The way I see it, life is full of meaning and truth just waiting to be realized. Remaining dedicated to personal growth and open to change, taking advantage of opportunities life places before you and not wasting time— basically, being an active participant in life — is what makes life ultimately fulfilling. That can take a lot of forms, I suppose. Acknowledging that many things that happen in life are out of my control, the only viable solution I see is to derive what good I can from every situation, and use it to learn something about myself, about human nature, about life in general.
And that means taking life by the horns, always being open to new things, and never running from something just because it’s uncomfortable, and certainly not because it scares me.
As a result, I’m constantly in the market for new learning opportunities. Every new encounter is an opportunity to hear thoughts, opinions, beliefs, and worldviews that are different from my own. Not only do I learn about myself in the process (you simply can’t hear those kinds of things and not have them shape you in one way or another), but I am lucky enough to have had a genuine human connection, which simply makes the world seem a little brighter, and little more connected, and a little less fragmented.
Keeping in mind the fact that every human being is unique and offers a unique insight and perspective, I think you can, at least, appreciate my reason for loving that early stage of getting to know someone and learning all about the ways they think and see the world. It makes me think that the way to learn the most, to continue - throughout my life - to grow and challenge myself as much as possible is to seek out as many of these encounters as possible. To continually take advantage of opportunities to connect with new people, to hear new ideas, and to constantly evolve my own sense of self as a result. Sounds pretty sweet, right?
Yet, accepting the reality of human limitation, I recognize it’s impossible to experience as many different types of people as possible without, as some level, sacrificing some depth of interaction.
So here lies the dilemma of my prioritizing: is it better to challenge yourself by forming new relationships all the time (while still being genuine and still deriving some meaning from the interaction, of course), or by cultivating more intimate relationships and being challenged by the depth of the interaction?
I think that I instinctively lean more towards the “depth” side of the equation. Even though I so enjoy making new friends, I find myself craving the company of those I’ve known for years more often than not. And when it comes to romantic relationships - while I can see how much I’ve personally grown from every dating experience, long or short, I’d still prefer one deeply intimate relationship over many, albeit more diverse, romantic encounters.
But when it comes down to the motive for how I live my life, I get stuck on this fundamental concept - my capacity for meaningful life experience will always be limited. I can’t have both infinitely diverse and infinitely deep relationships. At some point, I have to choose which is more important. So is one intrinsically better than the other? Should you have a small circle of close friends/one romantic relationship or a larger social circle/casually date? Or does it just depend on the temperment/personality of the individual?
Are intimate relationships more fulfilling simply because they’re more comforting due to their familiarity? Can growth really happen when you feel comfortable, or is it the discomfort of an unfamiliar situation that motivates you to continue to develop? Do you reach a plateau (or threshold) of opportunities for growth when you’re around the same person (or several people) for years and years?
Can interactions that are more sporadic, intermittant, and/or short term be as meaningful as long term ones? Can you ever really move beyond the self-centered mindset of an adolescent without committing to one (or several) more intimate, deeper relationships? Do you also reach a certain point with this lifestyle where growth stops, because you’ve never been challenged in the ways that intimate relationships would challenge you?
By being so committed to spontaneity, to taking advantage of new opportunities and experiences, are you really just making relationships based on your own gain and/or terms and avoiding the “enslavement” of commitment? Is it possible to ever be totally un-enslaved in life?
Or are you simply choosing to be committed because it’s the safe, established norm?
Of course a balance of both is the best option here. Practically, most people would agree that it’s best to have several close relationships, while remaining open to new people and experiences all the time. And of course, the level of depth to which a particular relationship develops certainly depends on whether the person in question, quite frankly, seems worth it. Both schools of thought hold significant value.
But when it comes down to it - theoretically at least - which value should you prioritize? Do you choose to be limited by the breadth of your experience or your depth?