This morning, I woke up and I thought about romance.
This is what romance looks like to me. I am partly a hopeless romantic. I’m a dreamer, so I know that my expectations of love and romance aren’t really realistic.
But it doesn’t stop this song from playing in my head when I think about love:
Call me sappy. Call me a fool – goodness knows there’s a nagging voice inside my head that knows, without doubt, that it’s not always like this in love. But it’s fun to dream, and it gives me something to sing along to and feel hopeful about.
People think that when you’re single, you’re anti-love. That’s not really the truth, I find. I think that more of your love just transfers to the other people in your life. For example, I feel extremely excited to see my family this summer. I also recently visited a friend in Vancouver for her birthday. I’ve known her since she was born, and I really loved getting to spend some girl time with her!
And mainly, what I’ve been trying to work on is really finding some love, or at least some acceptance for myself, which is perhaps the most difficult for yours truly. I don’t know how this has come about, but I’m very willing to put myself second to other people. Some call it ‘selflessness’, but sometimes it just feels so unhealthy. Looking back, it feels dangerous to be immediately willing to integrate someone into my life completely.
I feel as though I’ve said this before, but when I care about someone, I care completely.
It’s a strong emotion to handle sometimes.
Anyway, I digress! Back to my ramblings… (though romance does tie in here somewhere, I swear…)
There are often two or three main ideas that occupy my brain: love, philosophy, and human nature.
And in the case of today’s trains of thought, it was some combination of all three.
Having moved away from home for school this past year, I feel that I have undergone several changes, and now that I have been blessed with some free time (hurray for welcoming back my own sanity!), I’ve been able to process these changes in my character and decide whether I like them.
For example, I recently found that I meet all of the descriptions of a classic-case workaholic – bleh. I’ve always been known by my friends as a bit of a worry-wart, but it’s never been this bad before. I think it was because I resolved to ‘throw myself into my work’ during the final kick of this semester, and I didn’t know how to stop doing so. I got carried away.
I’ve always worked hard. I think people impose a certain degree of intellect upon me, when really I just work ridiculously hard and refuse to cut myself any slack. I won’t quit (oh boy, do I think about it sometimes), and I don’t always allow myself to fail (which is unhealthy, by the way), so it’s not unsurprising that I’ve finally reached the workaholic mark.
I often describe myself as an ‘old soul’. The truth is I just feel so old in comparison to other people. I don’t mean maturity levels – I can be an extreme goofball, given the right situation. I just mean that I find myself circling the inner chambers of my brain all too often. I haven’t lived long enough to regret things as much as I do.
All of this thinking has put me in need of a chiropractor.
Yesterday, as the airplane I was on readied itself for departure, I strayed to one of my mind’s favourite topics these days – adulthood.
Duh duh duh.
I always feel like I’m on one side of a large canyon, shouting at something that’s not there when I think of adulthood. Is it just an illusion I’ve been told I’ll attain one day?
I never really know when you’re supposed to start ‘being an adult’. I mean, I’m of the age when I can drink legally, smoke legally, drive – but there are plenty of people who are of age to do so, and they don’t really act ‘adult’, do they?
Since this definition remains unclear to me, I decided to think of how I would describe this shift into another state of being, and here’s what I came up with:
There are many times when I’ve woke up and looked in the mirror over the past eight months, and thought: I don’t really like the person I am becoming.
And it always takes a while to convince myself that this feeling is fleeting, but maybe this convincing is what adulthood is.
Maybe adulthood is the process of looking in the mirror and understanding that not everyone is going to like you.
This has been quite the idea to stomach for me. I’ve lived my whole life up until this point being well-liked.
You could even describe the 19+ years of my existence in this sentence:
You can sub in ‘compassionate’ or ‘kind’ if you want to, but nice is usually the main descriptor of my character, and it’s not that I dislike it. It’s just that I wonder if it’s actually who I am.
I think deep-down we all like to be well-liked – to have the support of our peers instills us with confidence. And in my opinion, I just like being nice to people, even if it means that I am left as a pushover.
But am I too willing to bend? To compromise?
Goodness knows I could stand to be more assertive. I could stand to let my anger show every once in a while, but this would mean coming to terms with what I mentioned earlier – understanding that not everyone’s going to like you.
The thoughts that circle like buzzing flies in my head these days are sometimes about how I feel like no one really knows me. I don’t even know me fully (haha), but instead we have a shallow understanding of the person I am, based solely on the things I do.
Before I get too off topic here, I’ll refocus: I guess what I’m trying to say is that hearing yourself described in different ways, with different adjectives – that’s what growing up is to me. The lens that people are evaluating you through isn’t coloured just by the opinions of your close friends or family anymore, but by the opinions of people you work and interact with.
And lately, adulthood for me (if we can even say that I’ve neared it) has been a montage of me dealing with some pretty childish emotions – aka jealousy, self-pity- and trying to harness them in a constructive way.
This Douglas Coupland quote is one that I’ve always related to when I think about the daunting idea of growing up/being an adult:
“I didn’t realize then that so much of being adult is reconciling ourselves with the awkwardness and strangeness of our own feelings. Youth is the time of life lived for some imaginary audience”
Maybe in adulthood we realize that that imaginary audience isn’t really watching anymore. There’s a level of recklessness and freedom that comes with that realization, and I’ve experienced both of those this year.
I guess all of this is just a complex way of wondering how people will minimize your behaviour down into a couple key characteristics. What speaks most loudly about my character?
I guess I’ll never know.
In a cab, I tell my friend, ‘People think they know me, but they don’t.’
Now, along with adulthood, I got to thinking about love and heartbreak, and oddly enough – something that was mentioned in my first year philosophy class, as well as in a philosophy of sexuality course I took last year around this time.
Generally, it went something like this:
People are obsessed with weighing themselves down – with burdening themselves with friends or possessions or worry. My prof even said that the way that Facebook enables documenting, and reconnecting with friends that you ‘maybe would’ve never talked to again in your life‘ is evidence of this ‘weighing down’. Maybe it’s how we see ourselves as real?
It kind of makes sense. I think there are definitely some examples in society of how weight translates to value.
Now, here’s where my ideas of yesterday come in:
If we can agree at least a bit with this weighing down idea, I would say that we are guilty of doing so with our heart. There’s a desire to belong to someone – which sometimes means giving your heart away – that is coupled in contradiction with the desire to still be in possession of your own heart.
So, here’s the line that I thought was profound (but hey, it was on an airplane, so who really knows):
Maybe what we need to learn is that you’re not supposed to be in possession of your whole heart, but love as though you still have all of it anyway.
If you live with your heart open and on your sleeve (as I do), little pieces of your heart are given away or lost like pieces of sea glass in the sand. Everyone is obsessed with getting them back, when the truth is we shouldn’t worry about having them anymore.
It sounds sad, but I think it’s part of it.
And maybe, if you’ve done this all correctly, and you’re on your death bed somewhere, you can measure the little bits you’ve given away by the number of people who are standing there around you saying their goodbyes.
Because if you worry so much about trying to keep your whole heart, you are the only person who will be there at the end.
This is all a little radical to contemplate, I guess.
‘You mean you want me to just let my heart go?’.
I don’t think it’s particularly easy, but people say the best things in life aren’t easy, right?
I just think we get so caught up in the control of it all – with needing to keep pieces of our heart when they could be out in the universe as evidence of times when someone else made us happy in their own unique way.
And this is why the whole concept of ‘baggage’ exists – we’re carrying parts of our heart that were altered by past love around, and they don’t fit with the other ones anymore. We’re forcing them to fit or act like they used to, and only finding hurt when we realize they don’t belong together.
Some people might say this whole idea is stupid and weird – to actually allow yourself to be okay with losing parts of your heart. I mean, your heart will always belong to you, but if you allow yourself to be open – to let your heart change as it will when it comes in contact with new love – then you won’t be burdened anymore. It’s likely you’ll be less miserable than before.
In philosophy, my prof said we try so hard to hold onto our selfhood. It was then that I started to relate to more Eastern philosophies where the self is seen as a constantly flowing river of ideas and changes. The only constant is change. I feel like some of those ideas can be applied to my whole heart-losing scenario.
To say it’s not fair to lose your heart – well, that’s still coming from a point of view that’s obsessed with keeping all of it.
To me, it’s just another painful and beautiful process.
Let’s just call it a heart transplant.