Lauren Wong | The Poly Post

The power of platonics

By Victoria Mejicanos, Mar. 19, 2024

Close to a year ago now, I began dating someone not knowing that within a month, they would be 2,000 miles away from me. I was petrified. I frequently felt alone, even before finding my partner. How was I supposed to live without “my person” beside me?  

Looking back at it, I had it all wrong. Being in a long distance relationship taught me that love can be found in the smallest interactions and that there are different types of love, but just because it isn’t romantic doesn’t make it any less impactful or important to a person’s life.   

In my podcast, co-hosted with one of my friends Athena, we interviewed communication assistant professor Sunny Lie Owens about love and relationships, where she asks an important question: “How can one person be everything?”   

The answer is no one can be. I have different friends that meet a variety of needs. My overall quality of life would be so different without them. I’m constantly working and busy, and it’s the small interactions with them that get me through each day. This late into the semester, they honestly get me through each week.   

According to the American Psychological Association, “People who have friends and close confidants are more satisfied with their lives and less likely to suffer from depression.” This could not be more true for me. My friends and I are all just young people constantly fighting burnout. Without them, I would feel alone, lost and exhausted.    

If I need encouragement or love, I reach out to my friend Carleen, because not a second of our conversations are negative. We have watched each other grow into the women we are today. She is a reminder of where I come from and who I wish to be.   

If I need a laugh, I can talk to my friend Samira, or quite literally anyone on The Poly Post editorial staff. It can turn even the most difficult of days into a more tolerable one.   

No matter what I’m going through, I know I’m not alone and that everything will be okay.   

Being a part of several communities and making friends at Cal Poly Pomona has helped me go from surviving to thriving. Studies from the American Psychological Association show that “friendships protect us in part by changing the way we respond to stress. Blood pressure reactivity is lower when people talk to a supportive friend rather than a friend whom they feel ambivalent about.”   

Lauren Wong | The Poly Post

When I stress about deadlines or start to feel an ounce of imposter syndrome at midnight, I get on the phone with my friend Fabiola and I immediately feel more in control than I did before.  

Without my community behind me, I would forget to take care of myself. They make sure that I am never left behind.   

As Lie shared in our interview, “Interconnecting is important, being a part of a community is important. This culture is so isolating, it’s so individualistic, it’s not natural. People are so lonely it’s become an epidemic.”  

Lie is absolutely correct, especially among college students.  

In a previous article for The Poly Post, Kristine Pascual discusses what it’s like to navigate depression and loneliness. She cites a study by Sarah Ketchen Lipson of Boston University that showed two-thirds of college students across the nation struggle with loneliness and feelings of isolation.   

The struggle that most students face is the amount of investment that goes into any relationship. In a campus full of commuters, it can be hard to imagine putting in the work to make friends, but every relationship, romantic or not, is cultivated through shared time and experiences with one another.  

As Lie so eloquently put it: “Investment. Investing time, investing effort and investing yourself. Being vulnerable, that’s the key.”   

Although it can be frightening to face rejection, a friendship is the best investment a person can make for their well-being.  

Every day, I navigate a world that tells me a woman should have a romantic partner. That romantic love is the best kind of love. What most don’t understand is that my friendships have been some of the longest standing, most loyal and fulfilling relationships in my life. I see myself as pieces of the world around me, and my friendships allow me to feel whole. 

Feature image courtesy of Lauren Wong

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