Female vs. male friendships

So I’m reading this book Girl Talk: What Science Can Tell Us About Female Friendships— it’s really interesting! It’s bringing up lots of things to think about– for example, how are friendships with women different from those with men? Lots of the findings really resonate with me, but also I’m thinking about how there are so often exceptions to the generalizations that we try to make based on evolution or our biology. Are these studies productive or limiting? Here are some of her findings:

  • “Men live in a much less intense social world than girls do. It’s a striking contrast. If you move to another town, girls will be on the phone constantly trying to keep that going. Whereas with guys, it’s out of side, out of mind.”
  • “…girls spend quality time talking with their friends, which enhances the emotional quality of their relationships. With men it doesn’t make a difference how much time they spend talking to their friends, because when you’re doing things together, you don’t need to talk.”
  • “Since women have much deeper relationships, they need to know more about their friends. They can predict how other women will respond if they do or say something. Because men don’t live in such an intimate social world, they don’t need to know these things, and thus, their relationships are much more casual.”
  • “This study also found that for women, friendship was a means to ‘express themselves and form their identity,’ while men wanted to get something out of their relationship, as in ‘what’s in it for me?’ Men were also found to be more inclined to base their friendships on social drinking.”

What do we do with these findings? In some ways, I think they can be pretty accurate and point out some interesting differences that I’ve definitely experienced at times throughout high school/college. But I also think about the many exceptions to these claims– is it problematic to make such broad generalizations about different genders? How can we acknowledge the biological/evolutionary differences between genders as well as the fundamental differences created by society, but also embrace the individuality and uniqueness of each person, regardless of gender?

Making a Place Your Home

“It all seems so very arbitrary. I applied for a job at this company because they were hiring. I took a desk at the back because it was empty. But, no matter how you get there or where you end up, human beings have this miraculous gift to make that place home.”- Creed Bratton, The Office

This is a really cool quote that I think encapsulates some of what I’ve been thinking about lately. A couple days ago, as we were sitting on the stage in Goodrich eating free food, Grace mentioned just how much these places were really starting to feel like home. I realized I felt that too; places like the fourth floor of Sawyer, the common rooms in Frosh Quad and mission, and Goodrich– places that were at one point so strikingly foreign– now were so familiar to me that I could barely remember a time when they weren’t a part of my life. It’s so crazy that all 2,061 (I think??) of us somehow ended up here in the middle of the Berkshires– for some of us, maybe going to Williams was always part of our plan, but for others maybe it was just a twist of fate or something they never expected. No matter the reasoning or decisions we made along the way, we’ve all ended up here, and are all somehow living and growing and learning in these spaces. For a lot of us, times spent here can be some of the happiest but also the most difficult and trying of our lives. But isn’t that so cool how humans work? No matter where we go– whether it’s a paper company or summer camp or Williams College– these places and these people that were once thousands of miles away and completely irrelevant to our lives somehow become huge parts not only of our daily routine but of who we are. When we let them, they end up changing us and inspiring us and ultimately shaping the course of the rest of our lives. So even though I can’t predict now what kind of person I’ll be at the end of my next three years in Williamstown, Massachusetts, I’m so glad (and lucky!) to be able to call this place and these people home.

are personality types a thing?

I used to be super obsessed with the Myers Brigg’s Personality Test (https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test). In case you haven’t heard of it, it’s a pretty old personality test that helps indicate the different ways that people perceive the world and make decisions. There are 16 different types, and once you take the test, the website can give you all kinds of information that is supposed to reflect/predict how you live/feel about almost every aspect of your life (friendships, parenthood, romantic relationships, career paths, workplace habits, etc.). 

When I was in high school, I took this test for the first time and absolutely loved it. Almost everything the results told me were creepily accurate, and it helped me feel understood as a person in a way that I myself hadn’t even felt yet (part of this was because it was my first time living a part from my nearly identical twin sister). So this test really acted as a lifeline for me and helped me feel more secure in my identity and who I was. But I took the test again at the end of high school, and realized that my personality had apparently changed. At first, I was upset and thought it must have been a mistake- I tried to put it out of my mind. It wasn’t until this past winter break that I decided to take the test again, and actually began to understand and identify with my new result. I decided that it made sense that I had changed as a person throughout high school- I’m definitely not the same person I was went I left home for the first time. 

But I’m still kind of unsettled about what this change means, and how to relate to this test anymore- it doesn’t provide the simple answer that it did when I was 15. While I think my “new” personality type in some ways reflects the way I’ve grown throughout high school, I don’t completely connect to it- part of me still relates to the result I got four years ago. What do you guys think- is there any use to these personality tests after all? Or are people too complex, too unique, too constantly changing and growing to be defined by just four letters?

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