Life, or something 'like' it
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Life, or something 'like' it

A good friend of mine recently said: "All we are looking for in life is an equal amount of likes from a person that we like."

I was rather shocked, as I thought she was referring to Facebook "likes", the infamous social status indicator of this frail age and time. Yes, the rhyming was weird too. I thought she had gone off the deep end, using Mark Zuckerberg's platform to answer life's biggest question.

But my friend is one of a very few people I know that has never signed up for Facebook, and she was actually talking about the labyrinth of human relationships, from friendships to professional liaisons to romantic tête-à-têtes.

I didn't jump on the bandwagon right away, because I've always believed that either we are looking for more than "likes" from people — understanding, attention, tenderness, time and empathy (love me, feed me, pay me ... saps) — or we don't need anything from anyone at all (I'm-a-strong-independent-woman-hear-me-roar nonsense. OK, Beyonce. That's right, Katy Perry).

Then I thought about it for a while, and have come to accept that, maybe, life actually boils down to that.

Think about it. Reciprocation of feelings in any setting is crucial in making relationships work. From the workplace to the bedroom, if the same amount of "like" is shared, hurt feelings are often spared. You can say that in a professional setting, personal emotions should be set aside. But we're all human beings, and are subjected to feel 24/7. Meaning those feelings come to play in any situation, no matter how "professional" you want to appear. With friends, you want to be equally invested in one another. In the realm of love and attraction, it couldn't be clearer why mutual adoration is key, unless mental torments get your rocks off. Then by all means, go for the unobtainable, the emotionally unavailable or the prick.

Then comes the question of how to achieve that state of "equal like". Don't look at me; I don't have the answer to that. After asking a few people in various states of human relationships and scary breakdowns, there seem to be two possible common solutions. One camp believes that you have to work for it to make it happen; another thinks we should let it happen on its own.

But this needing to be on the same page and its entailing puzzles can possibly induce paranoia and confirm lifelong fears of rejection. Although we've been hiding it very well. Whether you just sit around waiting for it to happen or really make an effort, it's never that simple. Once you accept that you want to be in equal like with someone — your boss, your buddy, your paramour — whether by sheer cosmic force or grinding it out, you need to put your heart on the table, where it's at risk of being trampled, chewed up and spit out.

I've always been guarded when it comes to my vulnerability, and it's hard to expose  certain sets of feelings (besides anger or aggression), except in the pages of the Bangkok Post. So I usually act cool and nonchalant, then later become self-destructive in the worst sense, when it comes to the touchy, feely business.

If you try too hard, you become pathetically clingy and needy, or you put up a harsh exterior to shield yourself from what could be. Then overanalytical side of you begins to play foolish games, which everyone ends up losing. Of late, something has turned inside of me, and I'm beginning to think that there are things in life that rationality and self-protection just won't cut. Maybe it's better to follow your instincts and your feelings, forgoing constructed habits of overanalysing and becoming paralytically afraid.

In the end, it's not about landing an expected outcome or receiving "likes" from your counterparts. Rather it's about you being your bravest self, going through life without fear — fear of being hurt, fear of rejection, fear of humiliation. If a proximity suit can be invented to bring us closer to flying, then your heart is in a safe if it wants to take a leap. Someone rather amazing recently told me, "if it makes you smile and s*** your pants at the time, then it's good".

So my answer for now is yes, there's this cosmic fate roaming around making things happen. If you're lucky, you'll run into a person who brings out the calmness in you, but that's not enough. It's true that we should let it be, but we also have to work at it to make it better, no matter how it might come off to others.

And if all else fails, we can go log on to Facebook and embark on a "like"-clicking crusade, hoping for many in return.

Onsiri Pravattiyagul is a writer for the Life section of the Bangkok Post.

Onsiri Pravattiyagul

Entertainment Editor

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