Another Opinion Piece on Relationships: Finding a Friend
As I was spending some time studying, suddenly struck by a high level form of procrastination, I felt an overwhelming urge to write. A topic was put forward as I, vacant of ideas, rallied with a few friends.
This writing is based on the belief that everyone wants to help, in a scenario where it costs but a few minutes of your time to help another. Why does it seem challenging, at times nearly impossible, to build, let alone find, relationships while even living in a multicultural city? A topic of innumerable dimensions, only one will be discussed today – that of grouping. A concept which, once identified and applied, can yield immediate change.
For the sake of categorizing, we can begin with a venn diagram, where “genuine connections” may overlap “superficial (circumstantial) connections”. It is essential to understand that both types are important. Though there may be people that fall in both categories (the overlap), many in one will remain as they are, just as many in the other will remain as they are. This is not to say that one may not move into the overlap, or, in time and as interests change, that one may not move into the other category. In understanding which the person falls under, our expectation may not be warped, thereby allowing a more satisfying relationship with that person. After all, is it fair to expect that everything we desire can be provided by a single person?
Within these two main categories are smaller groups of relationships: project based; activity based; shared goal; idea/thought group; support forum; information sharing; and, perhaps the most rare, affinity. There may be some other groups not identified today, such as familial, or other “circumstantial” loose relationships (“friend of a friend” type). It is also important to recognise, though no replacement for physically present ties, even our most treasured relationships might be maintained online or over distance.
A project based and activity based relationship differ in that a project is fixed period, and an activity may be simply one-time or ongoing. Projects may be of a creative nature for fun, a project for a job, or of an academic nature, where one or more people are brought together to achieve a shared outcome. In this shared desire to complete the project often lies a common interest, which can be strong enough to overcome differences in personality. In the case that the differences are stronger than the interest, it is often the case that this personality may know of other personalities who share this interest. In a similar way, activities such as classes, sports, charity work, travel, or hobbies bring humans together by way of circumstance. Whether it be at the craft store for macrame, in various dance studios for classes, or in a tour group, we are introduced to others who share an interest, or at the very least, have an opinion on this shared experience. More often than not, one will have more experience than the other in the matter, sometimes so much more to the extent that a mentorship develops, especially where there may be a strong passion, let’s say, for the love of chess. In this case, where there are two types of superficial, or circumstantial, relationships, one (the mentorship) may stem from the two, falling under the category of a genuine connection.
A mentorship is often at least a genuine connection as well as a superficial connection, sharing the category in this venn diagram with the idea/thought group. The idea/thought group might be as abstract as it sounds. Regardless, we are brought together by not the passion of a tangible interest, but by interest in a shared value. Though this group can often be difficult to identify or source, we may be led to find it through its “symptoms”. If a marketer is targeting this persona, what could he identify to be of interest to this group? What books does this persona read? Which podcasts cover the interests or shares a voice sought by this audience? Do they attend the same TED talks and conferences? Or in a virtual context, which forums are used by this person to exchange ideas? The internet has no shortage of forums. Online forums are abundant not only in thought groups, but also in support groups.
Anonymity in support groups remove many barriers to genuine connection. Difficult topics of discussion are openly embraced in online, and even offline, community help groups. These topics are often from shared experiences that even those closest to us may never relate to. This bond easily places this support group in the category of genuine connections, though not necessarily so. One may tentatively or pragmatically establish only a superficial connection with others in this community, limiting the relation to just what is useful for the moment. This group sits adjacent to the information sharing group. The group which shares a similar interest or circumstance leading to this similar interest. Imagine several people sharing the same less common hair type – how valuable the knowledge of a helpful product may be. Even further, how valuable the knowledge of an incredibly exclusive and difficult to source product may be. All this being said, though shared interests, experiences and values may or may not develop into a genuine connection, when they do, these can be simply the most precious – the affinity connection.
Whether shared interests and values result from similar experiences or there are few shared experiences and simply shared values and outlook, there sometimes exists an extraordinary relationship to another. Sometimes two may have no found relation except the feeling of “another me”. Of course, this “other me” may sit on a sliding scale of grey, depending on how many of these “other me”s one has been fortunate enough to encounter. This relationship can be particularly fulfilling in the sense that the other is able to relate in ways that no other can. This is not to say that the other groups of relationships are not as important. At times, the only thing that may prevent finding relationships are internal mental barriers.
One mental barrier may be an unwillingness to connect with others. The unwillingness might be a form of “grass in greener” syndrome, creating the idea that there are no connections to be made in a given scenario. Another barrier may be the opposite of an unwillingness. Possibly there is such a strong will to connect, that one tries to force a relationship which might be better suited in another group or category. The ability to identify what another can offer is the awareness which can result in a mental shift, opening the doors to many new relationships. Another time that mental barriers are dissolved are during vacations, when one’s outlook may be consciously more carefree. The individual, once a busy and concerned “no” person, decides to go on vacation mode, becoming a “yes” character. Of course there exist also external barriers to connection. Aside from changing our own circumstances, a person more or less has greatest control over their own outlook, being open to creating connections with ones we encounter, and in turn, often the connections of ones which we encounter.
Often, a little advertising goes a long way. Being open internally, as well as expressing to others an openness, we can be pleasantly surprised that our superficial connectors might eagerly help close the gap with one initially unknown to us. After all, aren’t we all searching for connection?
2020 was big for me, not because of the pandemic or because of my personal dance breakthroughs, but it was the year I first started to embrace my Asian face. It may have been partly due to my second ever trip to Asia, where I saw so many beautiful Vietnamese women, further reinforcing my new sense of beauty. I discovered first only a few, and later a handful of instagram accounts with the most striking portraits and beauty shots of Asian models. I don’t mean Asian models for a western beauty concept, or Asian models portrayed for their novel features. I mean photographs that capture the subjects in such rawness, that they feel refreshingly “normal”, and yet so powerful.
These accounts have been really influential to me. I was inspired to start wearing a more natural brow, rather than the always perfectly sculpted and filled in brow. My skin, all one face, rather than needing to be contoured with defining killer sharp cheekbones and hollow checks. It has a softness in being just skin, fresh and dewy with rosieness.
And finally, wearing my asian eyes without reshaping them. They feel so beautiful in their gentle shape. My face no longer feels bare without my winged liner commanding your attention. I am grateful to the ad campaigns and instagram content for opening my eyes to another definition of beauty, so different from the only aesthetic I could ever comprehend in the past. Finally it feels so natural.
Though for a long time I knew I wanted a light, comfortable and organic mask, I didn’t yet have a clear vision of design. Finally I realized I could spare a corner of my precious artisan măc nu’a berry
dyed rare silk.
I’ve worn it for about 3 weeks now, hand washing gently in warm water with bar soap and shaping to dry (it dries perfectly on my shower head). I wear it usually between 1-2 hours daily and wash it at the end of the day. So far not much fraying or colour loss.
I continually made adjustments during the first week of testing the prototype. Not knowing what to expect working with this fabric, everything is stitched by hand. A few threads in the fabric would catch on the needle, but otherwise, very nice to work with – not too slippery, and holds its shape well. Shapes beautifully after washing and wearing it about 1 week.
How to Wear a Mask
I find it especially important to keep my mask fresh to minimize extra irritation of the facial skin. Diligence in exfoliating and masking (Vichy 3in1 Normaderm works well for me as a mask) keeps the exposed facial skin clear and glowing as well as the skin covered by the mask less prone to irritation.
Lip colour? So far, lip stains have the best staying power, or for something even lighter and more subtle, a light dusting of a small fluffy brush (or a few light taps of your finger) swirled in a baked shimmery bronze or pinkish palette. Seriously, this is my secret (you’re welcome). Keep the lips soft and plump with regular exfoliating, just with the damp corner of a towel works great. To moisturize, I dab a tiny drop of cactus oil (sourced from my trips to Morocco).
Earrings? Really anything you would normally wear (but nothing too delicate if you plan on getting it caught!). The important thing is to not neglect the ear jewels.
Currently developing a mask design available for sale, as many people have been asking for it. Im breaking all the rules and not using a pattern – every face shape is different after all. My goal is to learn the design and how to efficiently tailor as needed.
first published works
Somehow, I’m still surprised to have my work accepted and even published when Top Posters Magazine reached out to me to send in submissions. My first publication.. wow!
Image requirements for this magazine in particular are JPEG, 8.5 x 11, sRGB, portrait 300 dpi (2550 x 3300 px). The photos were taken on my Samsung Galaxy S6 – already 2 years old when I had bought it off my friend for $200, which just goes to show you dont always need an expensive setup to produce decent quality. Edited on Lightroom mobile, of course.
A trip to Chinatown (Vancouver, B.C.) is always a trip to another world, and one I am neither confident nor brave enough to take without my mother. I always try and test out my rusty Chinese with the checkout clerks and other shoppers. I also always end up spending a little more, no doubt caught up in the frenzy of all the imported and specialty foods. More about my China shopping here.