“You will take a trip, and you will see a glimpse of the self that you hadn’t run into in a while. You will see that you missed that person you always were and still were but had lost track of. You will meet a girl who is interesting but whom you don’t really feel very strongly for and you will continue to see her. You will mistake your lukewarm feelings for maturity, for an ‘adult’ approach to love that allows it to grow slowly and involves a careful accumulation of intimacy that is measured out as if cooking from a recipe card.
This will not work, and it will take you a while to see that you are merely bored and are trying to bolster your self-worth and a space-filler for a lonely girl. You will drift away from her, and you will be surprised by how plainly you can see that you don’t and never did care at all. You will think that indifference is better than being lit up only to be extinguished.” – Anastasia Sasewich – “Here is What Will Happen” via Thought Catalog
“I know someone who is soon marrying his girlfriend of eight years. He admits that he loves her, but isn’t in love with her. He says that they are very different, that they don’t have much to talk about as friends, that they bicker and fight. But time has built commitment, families know each other, and they are used to life with each other now. I said that sounds very sad to me. He said, ‘It’s not so bad. I pretty much do what I want.’ He goes out with friends, drinks and smokes weed, hasn’t really changed anything for her and she has just learned to deal with it. Well I guess that’s good, I tried. ‘It is and it isn’t,’ he said. ‘Because on one hand, yeah, I do what I want, but on another…’ He paused for a long time before he started again, ‘I never learned to love anyone more than myself.’” – Jill Neumann – “Don’t Settle For What Doesn’t Make You Happy” via Thought Catalog
These two articles have stuck with me for weeks on end. They stick with me because I see my past self in both of them. (I replaced the gendered pronouns with my own preferred partner’s pronouns in some readings–and in other readings, I imagined myself as the girls [women, hopefully] in question.)
I see myself mistaking “settling for” as a way to end the loneliness. I catch a glimpse of myself as recent as last summer, and maybe a pang of guilt should surface when I read the passage that accuses me of never caring at all. But how guilty can you feel when it’s so true?
With the advent of social media, it becomes easy to cherry-pick the moments we put forward. “Everything is great–actually, it’s beyond great! We’re over the moon with happiness!” But behind the infinite walls of the Internet, things are falling apart or they’re just barely holding together in the first place. It becomes harder to distinguish genuine happiness and what’s been spun the same way media moguls nip and tuck their every message.
We cater to an expectation of bliss and perfection. We become afraid to reach for something that could be fulfilling because that reach–and the lingering fear of failure–becomes too much. We hold on to failures from the past and let those attempts dictate what we try next. We try what is the easiest.
And when it becomes clear that this isn’t what we ever wanted, some of us won’t leave. Because leaving hurts. And remembering how bad it felt to leave or to be left still stings more than we care to admit.
And those that don’t or can’t or won’t leave will make excuses. For him, for her, for themselves, whatever. They’ll make excuses, and they’ll carry on as if everything is OK. Which it could be. It could be “just OK.”
But if that’s what we’re living for–“just OK”–then I don’t want to be a part of it.
I have made mistakes, but I have learned. I rule out nothing moving forward. I won’t say I’ll never try distance again or I’ll never date a friend again or I’ll never this or never that because that’s not how life should work. I believe in the intrinsic goodness of people and the weirdness of the universe, and yes, I feel jaded a lot of the time. That part is obvious.
But it’s because I have allowed myself to feel–not just happiness, but sadness, anger, jealousy, forgiveness. Everything you can–and should–imagine.
Failure sucks. But I find it worse to roll over, to give up, to never try, than to pick myself up again, even if it means not succeeding. This is my resilience. This is why I choose failure over never trying.
Through all the trials and tests and obstacles thrown at me, there remains hope. I’ve explained that a lot of us–a good portion of my friends, at least–are still trying to figure it all out. Those who are making headway are taking risks, are letting themselves stumble here and there, and are letting themselves grow from it all. There are those who aren’t, but I hope for their best that they see what they’re worth, that they deserve more than they think they do, and that it does take some discomfort to clear those hurdles.
And if and when that moment comes that you realize you need a shoulder to lean on because the weight of the world just seems like too much, I’m here. I’m always here.
One more quote for the night, which just happens to be my email signature, but which also sums up the reality of these stories we are writing:
“Adventure is simply physical and emotional discomfort recollected in tranquility.” – Tim Cahill
So–are you simply getting by, or are you going to live a life of adventure?