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DUNLEVY: Strong emotional health highly important aspect of life

Column: Tempus Fugit

It goes without saying that there is a gap, and perhaps a necessary one between personal and professional relations. Unhealthy dynamics make both profoundly unpleasant and there are some common constituents between the two, but there is an essential and marked difference between the two in regards to their raison d’etre.  

At the fundamental level, professional relationships serve a particular end, one bound first and foremost to productivity and a sort of efficiency. This is not to say that there is no place for friendships in the workplace or that more general virtues are not excellent things to possess, but rather to say that these factors fall into place within this larger objective-based goal. 

Whatever the case, they first and foremost exist in most circumstances within the sphere of work. Perhaps the clearest example of this dynamic is the age-old recommendation that discussions of politics and religion be kept out of the workplace. In all likelihood, there is no reason to approach something so likely to cause division and unnecessary issues that could interrupt an otherwise comfortable and productive work environment.

In personal relationships, this is not the case. 

Be the relationship romantic, platonic, otherwise or anywhere in between, there is some deeper emotional objective at hand. The influences of the people one chooses to surround themselves with and those they choose to associate with cannot be understated. Particular companions will have such deep, profound influences upon such a broad range of experiences and will have an equally profound influence upon the way an individual is affected by these circumstances.

Companions, I would go so far as to say, determine much of the environment that makes us who we are on a greater level. To whatever degree human beings are a product of their experiences, the people who make up these deep, meaningful experiences play a role in forging the character of others. 

While there are doubtless circumstances in which the gap can and should be bridged, the fundamental underlying purpose of personal relationships can often be contrary to that of workplace relationships — what is healthy in the former may be a detriment to the latter.  

There are particular beliefs about the world, certain values that are very central and important to an individual that, in the vast majority of circumstances, have no place in the workplace. These factors cannot and should not be divorced from the individual — diverse backgrounds, opinions and experiences all influence views which are an important asset in diverse and effective workplaces — and this is a good thing.

A healthy set of barriers allows for effective sharing of ideas and thoughts without excessively personal and intense factors getting in the way. If two co-workers have intense political disagreements, it could be troublesome. But if their passionate worldviews influence their approaches to different matters and the disagreements themselves never arise, it is a good thing.  

The difference in personal relationships is that these disagreements must eventually come up. A diverse set of friends is an equally excellent thing but for close relationships, barriers must be must more restrained and it is sometimes more okay to be critical of the relationships involved in one's life. 

Open-mindedness is always a good thing and one should always be open to new companions, even those who may be unexpected. But there are valid circumstances in which personal beliefs cannot be reconciled.  

Beliefs always become actions to some degree, and individuals have an obligation to themselves to advocate for what they believe to be right, and this sometimes means cutting toxic individuals out of their personal lives.

Any belief that is of tremendous importance to an individual will doubtlessly have some significant effect on their worldview — the way they view things and the way they act in turn.  Human beings have different moral values, and sometimes they cannot be reconciled. Two individuals may have wholly irreconcilable ideas about the world, and if these ideas come to odds with each other in some real, applied circumstance, it may not be healthy for the continuation of a relationship.

Human beings as a whole want and need healthy social relationships, and thus emotional relationships exist to fulfill this. Be it that their goal is health in and of itself instead of some exterior purpose, relationships made problematic and turned unhealthy ought to be reconsidered if they cannot be repaired and reconciled.

Certainly, the latter option is preferable when it is an option, but not every relationship needs to be a friendship, and not every friendship needs to be a close friendship. Emotional health is just as important as physical health, and there are valid circumstances in which difficult considerations must sometimes be made.

Ash C. Dunlevy is a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior majoring in plant science, agriculture and food systems. His column, "Tempus Fugit," runs on alternate Mondays.


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