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Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes

Bram (23): “I am not feeling so great and that is why I spend more time alone these days. My friends are looking for my attention and that bothers me. I find it difficult to keep saying 'no'. What should I do?”

Ingrid: At the beginning of the nineteen-nineties the 22-year-old recently graduated American Chris McCandless leaves his (student) house and home. Escaping from a world of materialism and expectations, he travels north without any possessions. McCandless makes many friends along the way. He ends those contacts with the same ease with which they have been made. Hitchhiking, Supertramp – a name he has given to himself arrives at his destination: the wilderness of Alaska. He camps out in a dilapidated bus. After two months, he decides to return to civilisation. In his book about McCandless, Jon Krakauer writes “... to the world of men and women, where he could kick back with a beer, talk about philosophy, captivate strangers with stories about what he has done.” It never happened. Unable to leave the wilderness, Supertramp dies in the bus where he is found by hunters a few days later.

We are social beings. Ultimately we need others to exchange our experiences, share knowledge, get advice and have fun. Because of this, we feel connected and that is what we like. In his book Op naar geluk (The Road to Happiness), Dutch professor of Psychology Ap Dijksterhuis lists the things that make us feel good. Money and material goods are not part of that. Although this may surprise you, you may not always take this into consideration during your daily life. We all actually want more, better, bigger, faster and more beautiful. In the long term, however, this does not satisfy us. What does make us happy, is giving. Research showed that giving money to a good cause or donating blood to the blood bank is what makes us happy. The same applies to feeling connected to others. It doesn’t matter whether you are a member of the local postage stamp collectors’ club, a student association or go to church every Sunday. You are in contact with others and you are part of a larger whole and that’s what it’s all about.

So say 'yes' to your friends and let them drag you along. Don’t wait until you are feeling better. By investing in your contacts, the feeling will eventually just come about. And share. Go to the pub with your friends and give a round. 

Ingrid Candel     

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