Do You Need Others to Make You Happy?


Well, do you?

Personally, I think yes and no. I mean, social relationships are important. Having a group of people around you who love and care for you—family, friends, significant others… They make life more colourful.

In all fairness though, I’m an introvert. That is to say, I don’t mind being alone most of the time. In fact, I’d even go as far as to say I prefer it. But that’s not to say that I don’t need people in life—I do.

In high school, I used to be really insecure about losing friendships—that my friends would leave me or develop better friendships with other people.

The result of that? I became clingy. I needed constant reassuring that the people in my life intended to stay in my life. And I mean, no one likes a stage five cling-on. I felt like I was constantly defining myself by who my group of friends were, and when I was alone, who was I? I felt so part of a unit that, when I was alone, I felt weirdly incomplete.

For example, when I was doing things alone, I was genuinely bored. I didn’t know how to enjoy things by myself. I thought, “What’s the point of having experiences if you have them all by your lonesome?”

So, when starting university, I made a conscious choice to not let people have that kind of effect on me. To make a real effort to define myself by my own standards. I wanted to feel like a whole and complete person all the time, not just around others.

So, I began doing things on my own: commuting, sitting alone in lectures, going to the library alone, etc. That’s not to say that I went out of my way to not spend time with people—if I happened to bump into someone I knew, of course I hung out with them. The difference now was that I just wasn’t constantly looking for people to fill every moment of every day.

At first, it was super uncomfortable. I mean, I had no one to talk to. It was just…boring. But you know what they say (whether it’s in reference to this point or most others)—it just takes time. And surely enough, it slowly got better. Over time, I felt more and more comfortable doing things on my own, and now when I’m in a situation where I don’t have friends around me to lean on, I’m completely and utterly all right.

Again, that’s not to say that I cut my friends out completely—I still see them and hang out with them a lot. And they’re still very important people in my life. The major difference now is that I don’t need to be around them constantly to feel good about myself. The time I spend with them now is not the only time I’m having fun. I can do it by myself too.

So, “Do you need others to make you happy?”

By the way I’ve been rambling on, it sounds like I’m about to say “No, all you need is yourself!”, right? But I’m not.

Social relationships are still important. We just need to be careful to not define ourselves based on them. It’s important that we have people to spend time with and have fun with, but it’s also important to make sure that those aren’t the only times we’re having fun. There needs to be a balance.

Yin and Yang, my friend. Yin and Yang.

These relationships should be there in your life because you want them, not because you need them. Ya know what I’m saying?

So, then…

Do I need others to make me happy? Heck nah.

Do I want others in my life who make it better, richer, and happier just by being in it? Heck yes.

Humans of UTM

First year, Art and Art History

“What courses are you taking?”

“Right now I’m taking Intro to Philosophy, Intro to Art History, drawing and painting.”

“That’s sounds like a lot of fun, how’s your painting class going?”

“It’s pretty good. Right now I’m working on this project called The Sound of Paint where I’m emulating a song I’ve picked through a painting on a mirror.”



Driftwood Friendships



When we’re five, six, eight years old, our friendships don’t have many criteria. You like playing with the same toys as I do and love colouring outside the lines? Great! Bestest friends forever. As young tiny children, we collected friends like candy. We had lunch with them during our break time, we played with them during playground time, and we exchanged juice boxes when we didn’t like what our mother had packed for us. Friendship as kids had an aura of innocence around it—long-lasting relationships with no end in sight. You grew up with the same people through elementary, middle, and high school. In middle school, you started developing personalities but your group of friends had become so familiar to you, there was no need to find new ones. You shared new secrets with them and had lots of sleepovers and just as much laughter. But then high school came along and things started changing; your relationships with your friends started wading through deep waters and into this weird realm between friendship and acquaintances.

There are so many reasons why friends just drift apart no matter how strong they think their bond is. One is that personalities really start to show themselves and you begin to realize that the group of friends you had since second grade have almost nothing in common with you. But you can’t just leave them behind. After all, they know everything there is to know about you and they never left you behind for anything. It would be so hard to find a new group of friends who accept all your weird and quirky habits as they do, so you stay, but then things get quiet because you find less and less to talk about and the only thing you have in common is that math homework. You stay because you’re comfortable and they’re familiar. But friendships also fade away because of distance. People say long-distance relationships are hard, but who said they’re only talking about romantic relationships? Platonic relationships can be just as hard to maintain. Your schedules no longer match, you’re in completely different time zones, and finding time to fit in Skype becomes a struggle you don’t want to face anymore. It starts with Skype every week, to Skype once a month, to Skype when you have time, until occasionally catching up on WhatsApp becomes regular.

But then there are those friendships that are like a whole piece of driftwood that broke in half for no reason other than it happened—friendships where two people are joined at the hip and for no other reason than life or fate, they break apart and float in separate directions. It’s very likely that this is on the list of “some of the worst tragedies that have happened to people” because there is just no explanation for why it happened. Sometimes people come into your life just to leave you and you come into their life just to leave them so soon. These are the ones with lasting impacts—the ones that drift apart so slowly you could swear there wasn’t an exact moment when everything changed.

If you have a friendship that is worth a thousand moons, hold onto it like the world holds onto gravity because both don’t exist without the other.

Humans of UTM

Fourth Year, Double Major in Criminology and CCIT

“What do you like about UTM?”

“I like how UTM is like a small community, and I feel this sense of belonging. I find that UTM is loving and caring.  I remember in first year I didn’t really have anyone, I was basically alone for most of the year. Then in second year, a couple of friends and I decided to become more involved by going to various events. I think the inclusivity of UTM made me love it.”

“You’ve met Prof. Deep Saini, would you say that he is your role model?”

“Yes because I like his point of view, that UTM should be more diverse, and I find that he’s working towards that. Along with him, my other role models include my family. Mainly because they pushed me to become more outgoing and inclusive with the UTM community.”



Please Don’t Take Offence… I’m Just a Little Weird.


We all have those days when we just don’t feel like talking to other people. It’s not that we don’t like them… It’s just that the particular day you’re having is what you would define as an “off day”. Perhaps you’re bummed out by an unpleasant mark or you didn’t get enough sleep the night before. Perhaps conversations with others have never come easy to you, simply because you’re shy or you don’t know how to carry a conversation and respond to social cues. Or, you avoid talking to others in any way possible, in which case, I’m afraid to say, you’re a socially awkward person. Take it from someone—yeah, me—who is just now starting to explore what it means to have dynamic and meaningful discussions for the first time as a young adult. Yes, many of my attempts at conversation come across as forced and uncoordinated, but they reflect the kind of person I’ve been for most of my life.

I’ve always struggled to make conversation with others; it’s been a constant struggle of mine ever since I outgrew my overconfident personality in grade school. That doesn’t mean I’m rude or that I dislike other people—I’m just a little unsure about how to respond and act around others in social settings. This tendency of mine to shy away from talking to others has led me to live a quiet lifestyle: I read a lot of books, watch a lot of YouTube, I don’t attend very many parties or social gatherings and I rarely use social media. Does that mean I’m weird? Well… Maybe a little, but by no means am I a rude or inconsiderate person. I often go out of my way to accommodate others, even if they choose not to acknowledge it. It’s just the way that I am: I’m an introvert who makes subtle attempts at being extroverted. They may not always have the desired effect, but they are just that: attempts to finally put myself out there.

If these qualities are reflective of you as well, socially awkward weirdoes unite! But seriously, you have nothing to be ashamed of. Try to outgrow your necessity to avoid conversations, and instead find some other way to interact meaningfully with others. At our core, we all have the desire to get along with everyone. Sometimes that gets lost in translation, or by an apparent inability to communicate effectively.

To those that love to talk, please don’t take offence. We socially awkward students just take time to come out of our shells. Please don’t confuse our reluctance to share information with abrasiveness—we want to get to know you, but we might not know how to do so effectively. We all have ideas that are worthy of being shared. Just remember to be patient and to give others a chance, because there is surely some social context in which we all feel a little weird.

Humans of UTM

Fifth Year, Major in English, Double Minor in History and Classics

“What is one of your favourite quotes?”

“I love this quote from Lord of the Rings:

‘All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken
The crownless again shall be king.’ “



Social interaction, Our Long Lost Friend



By myself, as usual.

I spot an available Mac in the Mac lab in IB.

I slide into a chair and fire up the computer, tea in hand, iPhone tangled in wires, earphones rested in ears.

I click on Microsoft Word.

I see the girl to my right lean towards me and whisper:

“Can you watch my bag?”

What do I say?

  1. NAH.
  2. *tight head nod, still staring at screen*
  3. *look over and smile* Of course!

Ten points if you guessed the second one.

Ah, the day-to-day struggle of a UTM student. Watching other people’s things, participating in class, taking public transit, being a group member—a series of social interactions. I don’t know about you, but as the years have passed and I’ve developed into an average third-year UTMer, I have become less and less inclined to interact with people even though my day is full of potential interactions.

Imagine yourself as a first-year student. You just got out of high school, super-involved, super-excited. You hop off the bus; you thank the bus driver. You walk into lecture; you smile at the prof and your peers. You take a seat; you try and make conversation with the people next to you. Someone asks you to watch their bag; you smile and say okay and wonder if your new best friend just asked you to watch their things. The possibilities! The people! Life!

Naiveté. Yes, I am blaming university for my decreasing social skills and general life excitement.

Personally, as the years have passed, I prefer to stick my earphones in my ears, keep my head down and text through the hallways, and grunt as opposed to talk. Often, I find that I don’t want to say things anymore, don’t want to meet people anymore. Is something wrong with me, or do the years of solo studying, music-listening, texting, reduced social events, and oversized classes have an isolating impact on the average UTMer?

I’m going to guess the latter. Haven’t you seen the posts on Spotted? You know, the ones about being sad and not having made any friends at UTM.

Let’s think back to my impromptu list of social interactions that we all have in an average day, and some more: passing your bus driver, sitting beside people in lecture, being a group member, buying food, coffee, or a book from a cashier. These interactions are what we make of them, and, personally, I haven’t made much.

I’m not going to advise you to join a club. I’m not even going to advise you to do a 180 and magically keep your head up in the hallways and smile at everyone.

I think that it’s more important to make the few social interactions that you are presented with worthwhile. Think of them as practicing your social skills in the little time you get to be social on campus, for the real world.

You know, the place with jobs and lives we all work for in our time here.

Can we make a pact to work on our social skills together? University should not be the land of retreating into our shells—these are supposed to be some of the best years of our lives.

So, the next time we get off the bus, let’s thank the bus driver. Let’s say “hi” to our cashiers, let’s put our hand up once in lecture, let’s smile at two people a day, let’s create quality small talk, let’s make eye contact with people we talk to, even the people who ask us to watch their things.

Together, we can get our social skills back, UTMers! This is not the end of our personalities.

Humans of UTM

“What inspired you to pursue a career in psychology?”

“I think the first time I got interested in psychology was at around the age of thirteen, when I was an athlete. My sport was alpine skiing and I noticed some of the guys that were ahead of me were really focused. They had these prep routines and superstitious behaviours while getting ready for the race. It got me interested in visualization and mental rehearsal.”



Tackling the Abyss – Life After University

“So, What’re Your Plans After University?”


Should I be a scientist?

Should I be a teacher?

Should I be a building???

Should I be a cat?????

Ah, the great existential question. Perhaps the most important of our young adult lives—and certainly one on all our minds as we near the end of our undergraduate careers and prepare to be launched into the bloodbath that is the job market.

The truth is, the possibilities are endless. All we really have to do is weigh our preferences with our talents and skills, and match those up with real world opportunities.

So then, what is it about this question that makes it seem so absolutely terrifying?

Personally, I think it’s fear.

The fear of incompetence. The fear that what we are setting out to do is beyond our measure of talent and ability.

We fear that a few years from now, we’ll be struggling while our friends and classmates are thriving—that we’ll have to return to the herd hanging our heads in defeat because we failed. I mean, we’re terrified that we’ll be knocking back a few with all our accountant and lawyer friends who knew exactly what they were going to do and who they were going to be right from freshman year, and who now earn six-figure salaries. (Guess who’s picking up the tab tonight…)

And this fear can be all-consuming—if we let it.

As a third-year student myself, I feel like I’m standing right at the edge of the cliff, preparing to take the plunge. And the closer I get to the summer of 2016, the more time I spend trying to tackle the uncertainty of life after university. I find these thoughts and fears flying through my mind on almost a daily basis. Scratch that—definitely on a daily basis. Multiple times a day, really.

What is it that I really want to do in the world? Where can my degree take me? Will I be earning enough money to lead a comfortable and happy lifestyle? Is this field something I can see myself in for the next 40 years or so? Will I be good at it?

And believe me, there are times when I get so confused and frustrated in trying to figure out my life that I just want to curl into a fetal position and let the emotional roller coaster take me where it may. (If you ever find me in this position—you now know why. Do not be alarmed.)

With that said, there are a couple of things I think is important to keep in mind.

Número uno: It’s not about the money.

Okay, kind of. Money is important, because we need it to survive and exist in today’s consumer-driven culture. But really, money is not everything.

I once read a Buzzfeed article and something from it stayed with me. It was about a nurse who documented the things the elderly would say on their deathbeds, and specifically what their biggest regrets were—the most common of them being that they had spent too much time trying to earn more and more money, and not enough time with their loved ones.

Am I alone in saying this gives me chills?

Lesson? Do not waste your youth trying to obtain wealth—the best kind of wealth is in the form of experiences and loved ones. I mean, no one on their deathbed is gonna talk about how happy they are that they still have a million dollars in the bank.

Número dos: You answer to you.

And no one else. The only standards you have to live up to are your own.

You decide your life. You decide what it is you’re going to do and how you’re going to spend your time. If you truly believe that the only way you’re going to be happy in the world is to obtain mass amounts of material wealth—hey man, by all means, go for it. You’re the only one who has to live with your decisions at the end of the day.

I realize this blog post was a bit of a whirlwind experience, but if there’s anything you take away from it, I hope it’s this:

  • You can do whatever it is you want in the world—you just have to know what that is.
  • Establish your priorities, and keep in mind the grand scheme of life.