Sometimes I stroll into the grocery store and a big, goofy grin spreads over my face.
Look at me, buying my own groceries.
It’s not that I particularly love grocery shopping, exactly. Despite being 26 years old, I just still get a kick out of being an adult.
I distinctly remember homecoming weekend, sophomore year of college, sitting around with a group of alumni recounting their glory days. They spoke of how much they missed college, how things were never the same after they graduated, and how the four years they spent in school were the best years of their life. I wondered silently if I would feel like that in a few years – past the peak, looking downhill on a life doomed to be considerably less stimulating.
Looking back, I realize that those guys were about the same age that I am now.
It’s true that the college environment can likely never be replicated. I’ve spent considerable time since then in some fairly, uh, morally relaxed areas like Vegas (a year) and Buenos Aires (six months), but they really didn’t compare with the extremely low level of responsibility and general obliviousness that one experiences in the university years. But I have to say that, despite some tradeoffs, I really enjoy being an adult.
Your Human Form takes some getting used to, it seems – by my experience, about 25 years or so to get settled into your body, begin to familiarize yourself with your personality, and find the tools you need to improve on what you were given.
I grew up in the same town for my entire childhood and I graduated high school with many kids from my kindergarten class. When I started dating someone, I knew practically everything about them – their story, so to speak, but specifically, what they were like and what they had been through.
Meeting someone now, as an adult, is quite a bit different. People come with baggage, and you’re not sure what that baggage is, where it is, and how it will manifest itself. But that’s exciting, too – it’s like walking into a complicated control room and pressing buttons to figure out how the whole system works. Sometimes that triggers a meltdown, and that teaches you something, too.
Of all the people you know with baggage, isn’t it interesting to realize that you’re one of them? And as you accept that you are yourself an enigma, endeavor to make your issues as obvious as possible – it’s okay to be honest about your problems, so long as you define them as growth areas rather than defining yourself by your problems. Baring your quirks, tendencies, and fears provides your partner with an instruction manual for You – or, at the least, a list of warnings, disclaimers, and possible interactions.
At this point, everyone has been through a lot.
Bad breakups, strange family situations, self-confidence issues – everyone has had one, most have had them all. Hardly any of us have ever observed a healthy, model relationship, and we’re working to create one through trial and error.
History, it turns out, does not always repeat itself. Not everyone is your ex, and you may find that they will pleasantly surprise you if you give them a clean slate – though, if you find that you’re dating your ex’s personality over and over again, you may want to consider modifying your hunting habits.
For the most part, I’ve been rewarded (and sometimes punished) by people who gave me exactly what I was asking for, whether consciously or subconsciously. In other words, we accept the love we think we deserve – and that can be for betterment or detriment.
The ‘opposites attract’ philosophy, from my experience, should be applied to superficial preferences only, where it can certainly throw some romantic sparks. Try it with core values (religion, geographical location, children), and you’re liable to find a different – and considerably more dangerous – set of sparks entirely.
Over the past year or so, I’ve become more mindful of who I choose as friends. I’ve said it before on here: you are – or are on your way to becoming – the sum of the five people with whom you spend the most time. I want to make sure that I’d be happy becoming the people who surround me – that they inspire me, motivate me, and complement my personality with diverse skillsets and opinions.
But for all the emphasis that we place on our relationships – family, friends, romantic interests, and, as we learn to look inwards, the relationships with ourselves – I am beginning to realize that another type of connection is equally important and often overlooked.
One of my favorite Laws of the Universe states that the actual outcome of a government initiative will be the exact opposite of its stated intention. School was supposed to instill a burning passion for learning, but for most of us, it performed true to the Law and doused the flame entirely. After a ten year hiatus from reading – prompted by the forced consumption of summer reading, namely Jane Eyre – I’ve rediscovered books, and, in a lot of ways, learning in general.
“Let yourself fall in love with something other than a human being,” says my kettlebell coach – a revelation for me that can’t possibly be overstated. And herein lies that crucial connection that is missing for most of us: a sense of mastery, of purpose, of honing a craft or skill, a vessel through which we’ll begin to grasp and begin to mold our mental, physical, and emotional composition.
The desire and excitement around learning is there, perhaps dormant and atrophied but not yet irreparable – simply in need of nourishment, I promise, and it will spring forth if you afford it the opportunity to reanimate.
Love and learning – life itself, divided into just two halves.
Yesterday is a distant memory and tomorrow is but a dream. This is the real thing, friends – the present, today, is the only tangible aspect of time, and I know you’ll do something great with it.
Un abrazo fuerte,