Posts Tagged ‘puzzle’

Friendships, A Puzzling Affair

Tuesday, September 21st, 2021

If you’re anything like me, you like to use metaphors to try and make sense of the world around you. And if you’re nothing like me, all the better; sometimes, metaphors are most appreciated by those standing outside their wily bounds, looking on with a critical and unconvinced eye.

Without further ado, I’d like to present to you the Friendship Metaphor (FM)(I hope you’ll excuse this unimaginative title, but too much creativity can be a bad thing). As indicated by the title of this chapter, this metaphor revolves entirely around one of the most controversial pastimes known to man: puzzles. Some people love them, some people hate them (yours truly), but I think that generally, most people derive a certain satisfaction from the process of finding pieces which only moments before being joined into a seamless design were little more than individual units floating in a sea of possibilities and wrong roads.

      There are two ways to go about the metaphor from here. First, you can think of yourself as one of the puzzle pieces; this option is not entirely appealing to me. Firstly, it assumes that you are some unchangeable, fixed piece, and we all know that couldn’t be further from the truth. Think back to the person you were ten, five or even one year ago. You probably don’t approach life (and therefore friendships) in the same way as you did then. Secondly, this view of the metaphor assumes that you can only be connected to the pieces right next to you, those that resemble you the most. I think you can see why that might be an unrealistic visualization.

      We arrive, therefore, at the place I believe the FM maximizes its full metaphorical potential for helping us understand friendship formation: rather than seeing yourself as the puzzle piece, view yourself as the master, and the pieces as the various relationships and connections you are building. Here, you are the one putting the pieces together, taking different approaches to how you build friendships and relationships in every area of your life. Just like when assembling a puzzle, you are motivated at the start–the possibilities are endless, and you’re confident in your ability to complete this puzzle. Then, frustration–you realize finding matching pieces is not as easy as you’d thought, and that the pieces and approaches you’d counted on are failing you. In desperation, you may put the puzzle aside for a while and tell yourself that this “hobby” isn’t for you after all, only to pick it up again,letting the entire cycle restart.

“Puzzle” by INTVGene is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

As a college student, as you move away from home and feel lost in a sea of new people, keep this in mind: you’re not restarting the puzzle at every friendship you forge, just working on a different section. In a way, you’ve been assembling the puzzle your whole life. When you were little, maybe a loved one helped you out with the hard parts. Now, they’re giving you space to figure it out.

So, if the Friendship Metaphor can help you approach friendships in college in any way, I hope it’s by reminding you how capable you are of completing this puzzle, your puzzle. I’m not saying it will be easy, nor will it always be pleasant. But what I can guarantee is that if you let the fear of failure stop you, your unfinished puzzle will just become an annoying reminder of all the friendships you could’ve forged and that are just waiting for you to accept them into your life.

Main takeaways:

  • Forging friendships is like putting together a puzzle, where you’re the assembler and the pieces are all the connections and relationships you are forging.
  • It’s normal to be overwhelmed or even frustrated when assembling a puzzle – and it’s no different with friendships. In those cases, it can be helpful to remind yourself that you’re not necessarily starting over, just working on a different part of the puzzle (and your life).

By: Chiara Jurczak

Chiara Jurczak is a second-year student at Northeastern University where she is majoring in Political Science and Communication Studies. She is currently finding new ways to explore her passions for creative writing, publishing and political crises, and hoping to figure it all out sooner rather than later. In her free time, you can find her reading, baking, or trying to talk her friends into going on fun (and at times strange) adventures.

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