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  • Natalie Garcia
    Natalie Garcia

    An Introvert’s Guide to Friendship: Thoreau on the Art of Connection

    Nearly everyone has dealt with the difficulty of maintaining friendships at one time or another. It is an art that requires balance and dedication, along with a special understanding of human nature. For an introvert, making friends can be even more difficult. But they need not despair; they have within their grasp the answers to the challenges of forming lasting and fulfilling friendships. In we explore the wisdom of naturalist and philosopher Henry David Thoreau and the modern take on his insights into friendship.

    Henry David Thoreau and Friendship

    Best known for the novel Walden, Henry David Thoreau is a well-known American naturalist and philosopher, and his writings are as applicable to today's world as when he wrote them over 150 years ago. Over the course of his life, Thoreau discovered many things about human nature, including a great deal about the nature of friendship. Though he spent most of his time living in solitude in the woods, Thoreau had many loyal friends and was quite the social butterfly. He observed and wrote extensively on the depths of friendship, incorporating his keen intellect and gently half-joking way of expressing himself.

    Thoreau’s advice on friendship is perhaps best summed up in the following quotation: “Friendship requires that rare mean betwixt likeness and unlikeness, that piques each with the presence of power and of consent in the other party…It always presupposes a sort of growth and filiality on our part.” Thoreau’s point is that for a friendship to truly last, there must be a certain level of mutual respect and understanding. If two people start out as opposite but then become too similar through spending too much time together, the friendship will suffer – leading to boredom, complacency and ultimately, a strained relationship.

    An Introvert’s Guide to Friendship

    For an introvert, this timeless wisdom hits very close to home. Introverts tend to find comfort in solitude, and as such often struggle to make friends. There are, however, steps introverts can take to perfect the art of connection and form meaningful relationships. The key is to maintain an optimal balance of closeness while keeping a healthy distance between oneself and the other person. This will help ensure the friendship is never taken for granted and that the bond forged remains strong and vibrant.

    One important principle to remember is to never underestimate the importance of small gestures. A kind word here and gestures of appreciation there can go a long way in deepening the friendship. Showing genuine interest in the other person’s well-being is also crucial. Taking time out of one’s day to listen and understand their perspective is one way to show this level of care.

    Making use of technology can also be especially helpful for the introvert to do when building bridges of communication with their friends. Sharing photos, videos, anecdotes and even the occasional joke can help to bolster the unique bond shared between two individuals in ways that cannot easily be articulated in face-to-face conversation.

    By embracing these principles and finding a satisfactory balance between intimacy and detachment, introverts can learn to cultivate meaningful friendships and reap the rewards of taking the time to invest in one another. There may be difficulties along the way, but with diligence and mindful attention, these can be eventually overcome.

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