Most humans naturally like to be together (in general).
When humans are feeling alone and scared, they gravitate to another person who can relate, or someone who has more experience. When humans are happy and excited about something, they gravitate to someone who is also happy and excited about something.
Humans LOVE to be able to relate to someone.
Its easier than standing alone. So, logistically, people like to follow the crowd.
So in general, people like to be together. They like to know that someone has their back.
Of course, it’s more complicated than that. Friendship and love are very complex, as are human feelings!
What brought this deep discussion on, Dove?
Well, this morning started out quite the same as the last week has been – testing. Now, instead of English, it was science – long dreary bubble in answer sheets of what we have learned so far.
We have to have certain circles on our answer sheet bubbled in with codes and numbers and other meticulous things that make you inherently nervous…
Of course, for these kinds of serious tests, the classroom is completely silent except for the pencil scratching and occasional cough. It is a rare moment of calm, with the threat of punishment if we disobey or interrupt the strained silence.
So we sit in our tables in alphabetical order by last name, with our teacher brushing hair out of her face, eyebrows furrowed, and very seriously telling us in monotone every little detail and steps of what we are supposed to do.
KEY: EXCEPT what to do with our tests when we have completed them.
And then we start. We all have different versions of this very serious tests, and heads are bent, pencils scratching, clock ticking by. We are all determined to finish before next period, all scraping up knowledge from the last year, tapping the desk, biting our lips, head bent over the word problems and questions.
Nervous glances are exchanged.
Soon the first person finishes.
They sit for a while, contemplating and checking over their answers. They have the option of breaking the sharp silence by raising their hand and asking a question (resulting in stares! They don’t want to lack knowledge…) or waiting for the next person.
Suddenly they have a path between standing alone or following the crowd!
Even in the simple act of returning a test can be quite strategic. It shows how a person will act in a classroom full of students that are their friends, or if they will choose the adult, etc.
Lets say that the first person’s name is Jan. She doesn’t want to disturb the class or call on the teacher. She doesn’t know what to do with the test. What will the other people think? Am I stupid? Am I doing something wrong? Am I supposed to keep the test on my desk? Does it go in second period in? I don’t know about this!
Let’s say Jan starts to check over her answers, examine her test booklet, cough, and check over her answers again, all to waste time. Subtly waiting for the next person to act. Maybe they will know what to do with the oh-so-serious test.
The next person finishes up, closing their answer document with flourish.
This person, Jordan, seems more confident. His confident facade covers up his obvious confusion.
He contemplates what to do – the teens are not allowed to talk amongst themselves and the teacher is very absorbed in her computer.
Should he raise his hand? Will the teacher even notice if he raised his hand? Should he get up? Is anyone else done? But we’re not allowed to talk- Should he…(You get the idea!)
Covert glances are displayed between the two classmates. They are friendly classmates, suddenly closer than they were before because they faced a dilemma together. Nobody else seems to notice!
Jordan hesitates for a moment, a struggle between raising his hand and lowering his hand occurs. He turns to Jan with a shrug and smile to hide his confusion.
KEY: They both have a common problem. They are both nervous human beings who don’t know what to do with their very-serious test. The difference? They’re together in the problem. What will they do?
‘I’ll ask’ he mouths to her slowly, shifting his testing papers to gain time, inwardly panicking. He doesn’t want to mess up!
While Jan is visibly nervous and confused, Jordan hides his confusion with confidence.
He is confident, because he has someone he can relate to. Someone that has his back, and needs his back. Someone that can relate.
Before he can act, person number three, Jennifer, finishes her test and, after a silent exchange with Jan and Jordan, stands up and discreetly asks the teacher.
Jen is the most independent and the most comfortable with her surroundings, but she too likes to have someone in a similar situation to rely on.
People look up for a brief second. Their eyes press down Jennifer, in shock or surprise or indifference. And then they focus back on their test as the teacher smiles.
“How many people are done?” asks the teacher looking up, finally.
Jan, Jordan, and Jennifer all raise their hands. They are glad that they are not the only one.
Of course, that probably wasn’t the most efficient solution.
But it shows how people would rather go with their friends due to confidence, even with the menial task of turning in a test.
The point of my long rant?
I know that it is much, much harder than it looks, but don’t be afraid to stand alone for what it right.
I greatly respect those who are not afraid to go against the crowd- I know that it is so hard to do when you think you are alone in the world, but know that you are inspiring others (such as myself) to be confident to their values.
Even if it is as simple as turning in a test.
In my case, the truth.