This post follows on from ‘The Empty Feeling of Normal Friendship’.
In my “outsider” understanding, there are three kinds of people in the world:
- The hollow people
- The half people
- The full people
Most people in the world are hollow people, and it is not possible to develop any sense of connection with them. No matter how much time you spend with a hollow person, a feeling of real connection never develops. If you spend a lot of time around hollow people, you may fall into thinking that something is wrong with you because you fail to develop any connections. In their company, it feels like you are acting; meanwhile, everyone else is really enjoying themselves. In seeking to understand why you don’t feel connected to the hollow people, you blame yourself. For example, you might think there is no connection there because you are not as fun or as interesting as they are.
The half people are people with whom you can develop a sense of connection, but it is generally fleeting and often dramatic. You reach the full connected, delicious feeling with them only for a short moment before they withdraw from you. It is unpredictable how long your connection with them may last. You will think everything is going fine, and you will be happy to know this person and to have them in your life…and then they go weird on you. Perhaps they simply disappear. Or they may suddenly change on you by putting up a huge wall of silence. Often they completely stop putting any effort into your friendship, and you have no idea why. There are various ways a half person can change on you, but it is all designed to push you away so that you leave them alone. They might stop replying to your messages; they may never invite you anywhere ever again; they may keep cancelling on you; they may give you a dose of silent treatment – I could go on, but you get the idea. They always push you away by some indirect means and won’t ever tell you what the real problem is.
A full person is someone who is open to forming enduring bonds of connection with other people. A full person doesn’t run away when the feeling of connection arises with another person; instead, they are happy if that connection grows deeper and stronger. Importantly, this kind of friendship does not involve encroaching on the person’s life, smothering or invading them in any way. It is best described as eye-to-eye respect: you allow the other person to come and go because they have their own life and their own projects, and so do you. You like them so much that you are happy to give them space to breathe. The full connection is still there humming away in the background, even if you are not in regular contact. Whenever you call this person to mind or feel them in your heart, you get a secure feeling from them and a kind of pride. You are always on their side and if you do happen to argue about something, with a little time and space you can get over it. When there is a problem, you talk it over rather than resort to manipulations, petty punishments or guessing games.
A full person is a rare breed as a percentage of the global population. In some parts of the world, there are virtually no full people. This is either because it is impossible for them to emerge from repressive cultures or because any full people who do emerge flee from those places as fast as they can.
If you are a full person trying to make friends in the land of the half or the hollow people, you are wasting your effort. It feels like you are banging your head against a brick wall. If it feels like you’re putting in a lot of effort and getting nothing back in return, that’s a sign that you are trying too hard to bond with people who are not open to it. Of course, it is possible to stoop down to their level by acting, but that connected feeling you yearn for will never develop. No offence to any Turkish people reading this, but my experience in this country has shown me that Turkey is a land of half people and hollow people.
A full person frightens and is misunderstood by the half or the hollow people. It’s even possible to notice the exact moment when you scare or confuse them. What triggers them most is your being true to yourself and authentic in the moment. I have seen this happen countless times: people become stiff and uncomfortable, apparently thinking that you are doing something wrong simply for being yourself. The hollow people in particular can’t cope with these moments of authenticity: they seem really offended by them and will disappear from your life. The last thing you remember of them is the look of reproach they try to put upon you as they scuttle away, like rats from a sinking ship. Meanwhile, the half people awkwardly try to ignore it as if nothing happened.
The full person in the land of the half and the hollow people has to learn to stop reaching for connection where it’s simply not possible. If you are a full person in such a land, you must also become stronger than ever so that you can keep being real, even when it scares other people and they use shame to suppress you. As long as the full person stays in the land of the half and the hollow people, they must resolve to make their own light of truth blaze brighter than ever.