“I don’t know how to be anything other than intense. I don’t know how to experience without feeling too much and thinking too much. I am always searching, always questioning, and always trying to find the meaning in everything. I am passionate and I am deep, and sometimes I am misunderstood, but I am finally okay with that.”
So, the world has introverts and the world has extroverts, and then there’s us. Falling somewhere in between the lines.
We find people intriguing, but insanely exhausting.
We like adventures, but love peace and quiet.
We want to go out, but need to mentally prepare ourselves.
We are terrible at texting back, but can sit and listen to someone speak for hours.
You Have To Experience The Wrong Kind Of Love, In Order To Appreciate It When It’s Right
When I was sixteen, love was hidden within pain. It was the knowledge of something so real, and so big, a little too early, before love even knew how to react to a girl who felt so deeply. So instead, love was “You’re ugly” and “I’d never date someone like you.” Love was “You have fat thighs” and years of verbal abuse. Yet love was something I still felt through the torment, it was an immature heart playing with my own, and years later even an apology wouldn’t scrub away the confusion of its game. Love was hurt.
When I was nineteen, love was a boy with too many options. Love was canceled plans and one-sided effort. Love was convenience and a different bed in every city. Love was apathy, until the options went away. Then love was an abundance of determination, a sudden knowledge of how valuable my heart was. Love was “Now that I don’t have anything else going on, I can commit to you.” Love was “Now that you are growing into your own, now that you have attention, I am finally ready to claim you before anyone else does.” Love was selfish. Love was too little too late.
When I was twenty-three, love was a spontaneous unknown; a need to believe in two people beating the odds. Love was a contradiction. It was turbulence and nights under New York City. It was “I miss you, but I don’t have the time to call you right now.” It was “I can’t wait to see you, but until then I’ll fill my time with other prospects.” It was “You are the woman who inspires me, who makes me want to be a better man, but I am not going to fight for this.” It was “You are everything to me, but I am busy.” Love was always busy.
And then, when I was twenty-four, love finally introduced itself to me. It said, “I am sorry for what you have been through, but you needed to experience everything I was not, in order to appreciate everything that I truly am.”
Suddenly, love was mornings spent laughing until I cried. It was having someone make time for me. Love was airport gates until it turned into “I am moving across the country to be with you.” Love was “After work I’m driving for two hours just to fall asleep in your arms” and “I want to give you everything you deserve; I want to show you just how much someone can adore you.” Love was whole. It was assured, it existed within certainty and ruthless declaration. It wasn’t built on the foundation of empty promises, it wasn’t bred from pain, or confusion, or apathy. Love was bred from choice. From maturity, from presence. Love was suddenly more beautiful than I had ever imagined, something that blew every old feeling and past name away in the path it was forging. Love was peace.
After all of those years, love was finally peace.
Love was finally real.
What if you peered into a fortune ball right now – this very second, today – and saw with indisputable clarity that you were never going to meet the love of your life?
That’s a sad thing that I’m asking you to think of, I’m aware. You’ve been hoping to meet “The One” for a while now – or at least someone half-decent who you can deal with for the rest of your life. I know, I know. You’re not fanciful like everyone else. You don’t believe in soul mates. But you were expecting to meet someone you liked a fair amount. Someone to curl up next to at the end of a long day, who would take care of you when you got sick and listen to your stories every evening after work. We all hope that. We’re human.
Because here’s the thing about finding love – it affects us constantly. And we all loathe admitting it. But love is on the forefront of our actions even when it’s not on the forefront of our minds. It’s the reason you bought those new jeans last week. It’s the reason you went to that barbeque that you didn’t want to go to last weekend. It’s the reason you sometimes feel cripplingly insecure and inadequate and scared about everything that’s coming next. Love’s what inspires most of your greatest changes.
So if you knew, with indisputable certainty, that love was never going to be yours, how would you live your life differently? What about your daily routine would you alter? What about your long-term plans?
Your first inclination may be to say “Nothing.” After all, you’re a smart person. You have plans that don’t involve someone else’s influence. We all do. But ponder it a few moments more. Because here’s what we don’t want to admit about love: it is a crutch that we use all the time. The idea that someday somebody will love all our flaws is a subtle excuse not to work on them. The principle of two halves making a whole restrains us from becoming our own better half. We want someone to swoop in during our darkest hour and save us, but what if we knew they never would? We’d have to start doing everything differently.
If you knew that love would never be an option for you, what would be? How would you structure the rest of your life? Would it have a heavier focus on career, a stronger inclination toward success? Or would you use the time to invest in yourself – go on a few more vacations, travel further outside your comfort zone? If you knew that you would never again feel the rush of budding romance, where would you turn to for your thrills? How would you get your blood pumping?
And what about your other relationships – would they suddenly take on more weight? Would you spend more time appreciating your family, if you knew that they are the people who will have loved you the most strongly at the end of your life? What about your friendships? Would you nurture and care more for the people who love you platonically if you knew that nobody would ever love you romantically? Would you show up a little more often, share a little more of your life?
My inclination is to believe that never finding love would be a game-changer for most of us. One we’d initially consider to be devastating but may eventually realize is the ultimate liberation. Without the fear of ending up alone, the opportunities open to you would become endless. You could live on every continent. You could scale the corporate ladder. You could go back to school and get that degree you’ve always felt interested in, without worrying about the financial burden your debt may place on somebody else. Love holds us back in an infinite amount of subtle ways that perhaps we do not even realize. And the guarantee of its absence may just be the ultimate sense of liberation.
Because if we didn’t have to search for the love of our lives, we would finally be free to realize that we are allowed to be the loves of our own. That we can spend our lives developing ourselves, challenging ourselves, pampering ourselves and building ourselves up to be bigger, more capable people than we ever once hoped to become. We could become everything we’ve been searching for. We could construct our soul mates in ourselves.
If there’s one thing we all need to stop doing, it’s waiting around for someone else to show up and change our lives. Just be the person you’ve been waiting for. Live your life as if you are the love of it. Because that’s the only thing you know for sure – that through every triumph, every failure, every fear and every gain that you will ever experience until the day you die, you are going to be present. You are going to be the person who shows up to accept your rewards. You are going to be the person who holds your own hand when you’re broken. You are going to be the person who gets yourself up off the floor every time you get knocked down and if those things are not love-of-your-life qualities, I don’t know what are.
We have to start appreciating all that we bring to our own lives. Because the ironic truth is, you are most attractive when you’re not worried about who you’re attracting. When you’re living your life confidently, freely and without restraint, you emit the kind of energy that it just isn’t possible to fake. The kind of energy that’s capable of transforming not just your own life, but the lives of people around you.
So stop looking for The One to spend the rest of your life with. Be The One.