It was half past nine, and the city was a coruscating kaleidoscope of colours. The sky was streaked with grey clouds, providing me with the daunting prospect of rain. Donning my pullover in anticipation of bad weather, I strode onwards, weaving my way through the crowd. Glancing around, I noticed a myriad of different emotions plastered on the faces of passers-by. Some bore happiness, and others bore anger. Some, to my horror, bore an expression of utter defeat. Their eyes seemed glazed over, their backs were hunched, and their gait was most accurately described as begrudged shuffling. Seeing those dejected individuals brought my own troubles to mind.

The academic struggles over the past months have left me exhausted, maybe even enervated, from a lack of rest. Friendships too, have been a source of distress. Unlike the more innocent years as a primary and secondary school student, the people around me are not half as easy to read. They disguise their thoughts about others, all while hiding gleefully behind their masks. It almost seems as if they have a different mask for each person they meet. Eager to put forward an ideal picture of themselves, they sacrifice what – at least to me – matters most, authenticity. If everyone strives to be humorous, intelligent and witty, there can only be one outcome – an uninspiring pool of homogenetic teenagers. Then again, these people are the least of my worries.

My friends, well, at least who I think are my friends, they are the source of my perpetual distress. While some of them, albeit the minority, make their thoughts about others blindingly obvious, few share their refreshing openness. Most continue to treat even their mortal enemies with indifference, for fear of burning their bridges. What I fail to understand is why they would save a bridge, or even construct one in the first place, if they know that it’s never going to be crossed. True, maybe keeping our options open is intrinsic to human nature, after all, why rule out the possibility of reconciliation? Yet, such behaviour would always be a sign of indecisiveness. And such indecisiveness is fatal, especially if those that care about you are on the receiving end.

I value my friendships, more so than many of those that claim to be genuine. I dare say that I give my unrestrained affection to those whom I feel deserve the commitment. Yet, when I’m unsure of the sentiments of the opposite party, it’s impossible for me to make a substantial investment, be it measured in emotion or time. It may seem cold and distant to be referring to friendships as investments, but is a one-way transfer of love and energies really considered a friendship? It would be alarming, not to mention selfish, if you, my dear reader, veer towards the affirmative. Negative past experiences aside, if I cannot ascertain the fidelity of the people I surround myself with, I’ll always be on the losing end.