Why do humans crave connection? why is it so important for us to relate to one another?
These questions have baffled humans since before recorded history, and many of our ancestors wrote about their feelings about this topic long ago. The world around us might have changed, but we as people have not change much, at least not in that way. Why do we need to have others that understand us, why can't we just live alone and isolated? It would mean less conflict at least, less problems to solve. But that's not how we operate. We need that human connection, friends we can relate to, no matter where or who we are.
When I move to a new place, the hardest part at least for me is making new connections and leaving the ones I had stablished in my old place, behind. It feels as if I was starting from nothing, all over again. We all need to feel like we are part of a community, that we belong, that we are welcomed. When you are the new face in a community, especially in a very small one, sometimes people don't readily accept you, and it takes some time to warm up to them, to get to know them and make new friends.
It's even worse when you're a person that's different in any way, to the other people in that community. Maybe you're from another country, or another color, or a different religion than the majority. Or love differently than they do. Or have a different culture than they do. Making friends becomes even harder, because you might feel too different, or they might be hesitant to establish a connection with you due to biases they might not even be aware of.
But we humans, like other primates, even though we have developed a way to think and control our environment, still remain social animals. We crave that connection in our community. So we tend to group ourselves with people that look like us, and sound like us. The problem is, sometimes we can't find people like that in the community we move in. We still need to connect, but it might look different to what we're used to.
Connections with others are important to survive in a new place. We need a network of people to rely on, for our own sanity and wellbeing. Thanks to social media, we can be connected to people far away, but we also need people in real life. It is important to make these new connections in this new place, even when we feel like outsiders looking in. Finding a friendly face, someone to call a friend, helps with feeling like we belong, that we can make it in this new place, that we will be ok.
When people immigrate to other countries, they tend to group together with others from their same culture, the same country of origin, because it feels better than reaching out to possible unwelcoming strangers. The problem with this is that we risk isolating ourselves in our little bubble, and never understanding this new culture we've encountered, nor the people that are part of it. It's easy to stay there, and never become a part of the community we moved in as a whole, because it feels safer. It is important to do so, however, if we want to truly thrive in this new place we've decided to call home. Sharing my culture with others, I've found in these many years I've lived here, makes me feel closer to my home country- and happier to be here.
Connections with individuals that are different to us, enrich our lives. We learn ways to do things differently. New languages. New ways to cook and eat our food. New music and ways to dance. We might even learn how to be better people, more empathetic to other people's problems than we were before. In this time and age, with the risk of a pandemic over our heads, these connections might look different- but we still should seek them, respecting others situation and how comfortable they might be.
Connections are also important in other levels, like finding a job for example. Or improving our community. We need to meet people, to befriend people in all walks of life, for our sake and theirs. When we work together, learn to love each other no matter our differences, we all benefit from it.