The Importance of People: Real or Fictional

I never would consider myself a “people person.” Recently, I have started to reflect upon the fact that although I am not a typical “people person,” I do find a lot of comfort in people. The more I have considered this the more I realize this extends to not just family or close friends, but also new friends, a warm stranger, or even characters in my favorite shows or books. This also may explain my tendency to declare someone I have known for ten minutes my new best friend.

Last night was a really fun night in Nairobi because I was spending time having light, funny, yet intellectual conversations with interesting people. J (who has become my Nairobi life partner) and I met up with a friend I was connected with through my old college friends. J and I both felt like it was the first time we had really relaxed since getting here. It could have been the fact that we were at a brew house with two for one drinks (either mojitos or the beer they brew there) and a make your own burger option. (Side note: the burger was good, but I think I was expecting an American burger and things taste differently here, especially the cheese).

Our new friend is involved with a foundation in Nairobi for girls’ education and empowerment. Check it out here. It was a delightful surprise to meet a man who could talk about the importance of menstrual cups to keeping girls in school with such seriousness and dedication. I hope to get a chance to visit the foundation in the largest slum in Nairobi, Kibera, and maybe even help distribute these life-changing menstrual cups.

After this evening of interactions with new friends I returned home to find my old fictional friend, Carrie Bradshaw. It may seem like I am fitting into a girly cliché, but there is something about having a character that you can continue to return to whether you are in Peru, Wisconsin, or Kenya. I know that everyone has these characters, although might not acknowledge the importance of them to their lives. My sister is soothed by Friends, and shared that it got her through some late nights as a new mom. My boyfriend plays old Seinfeld episodes on his phone when he can’t sleep. Why do we keep coming back to these same people? Is it the same root of the comfort we get from our close friends and family? (This was written in my best Carrie Bradshaw voice by the way).

You can’t always take old friends and family on your adventures and I know that the new friends I make are incredibly special and often eventually become those valuable old friends in my life. In the meantime, it is immensely comforting to have those old fictional friends that you can take anywhere and are reliably the same no matter how your surroundings or circumstances have changed.

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