This break, I’ve been coping with loneliness, and things have actually gone better than I expected. Fortunately, the break does not need to drag on any further – I return to college this week.
However, yesterday I was feeling particularly lonely, so I did an exercise that I like doing when it seems like there is nobody to talk to: I list everyone that I know (who is of my age), and I categorize them by connection.
The categorizations below are, of course, entirely subjective and made up, but I find them to be useful for categorizing by level of connection.
Class A: exclusive relationship
This class is reserved for a significant other – which I don’t have (yet?), but I still value its significance in one’s social circle. Girlfriends aren’t everything everything, since one still has to focus attention on other existing friendships, but I designate this to be the most intimate level that can be reached.
Class B: friends of the present
This class contains people who are currently my friend – that is, people whom I currently talk to at least once a week, have physically interacted with them outside the domain in which I met them, and have shared private details about myself with them. Currently, I have 5 people on this list, although 2 of them are reachable only in specific windows of time.
Class C: acquaintances of the present
Acquaintances are different from friends in that I do not really maintain a constant line of communication with them, simply out of lack of enthusiasm or further interest. This list actually has less people than Class B, which perhaps reveals my tendency toward close rather than shallow friendships.
Class D: acquaintances and friends of the future
This class describes people who may be potential acquaintances and friends in the future. Typically, I have not interacted with people in this category outside the domain in which I met them: for instance, if I met someone in an organization but have not talked to them outside the context of that organization, then from my perspective, they teeter on the line between acquaintance and a mere contact – hence this category.
Class E: friends of the past
This class describes friends and acquaintances whom I do not maintain any consistency in communication because we have diverged. It takes effort to attempt to establish communication with them, and even if I did, there is not much to talk about. It may also take a considerable amount of effort to see them in person again.
Currently, I have 9 people in this category.
Class O: online friends
Online friends are a special category because they have certain characteristics which differ from either friends or acquaintances: I have never met them in person, and they have varying levels of closeness and interaction. Some of these friends I have not contacted in years. Due to these relaxed constraints, I was able to list 10 people in this category.
What about everyone else?
Of course, I know many more people, but they only appear in my social circle as little more than an entry on my contact list. This would be another 60 people.
I performed much better this time around than last year. Last year, at around the same time, I only listed about 13, excluding online friends. Now, I was able to list about 24, excluding online friends, and in total 35 people. This is not to say that quantity is better than quality, but rather that I have directions to move in if I want to strengthen connections.