I’ve heard that the grass is always greener on the other side for many years and I never quite appreciated its meaning in my life until recently. I realized I fall victim to this on a frequent basis but where it affects me most is my love life.
I absolutely detest dating. I can’t think of a more uncomfortable experience than faking interest in small talk and getting all dolled up to attract a complete stranger just so he thinks Im interesting and sexy enough, all the while spending hours feeling nervous and wondering if he’s actually a cartel member who is going to kidnap me in his white van and drive me to Tijuana to sell me into slavery. I know what you’re thinking, dramatic much? But this actually happens, I know. I read the news every morning.
Easily within about 20 minutes, I know if a new person I meet is someone I can respect, someone who can make me laugh, and someone I would let kiss me. Because let’s not kid ourselves, that’s a very important quality in a date. Oh also, I know right away if a person will make me uncomfortable in any way. You’d be surprised how hard it is to find someone compatible to date within those parameters. So needless to say, I don’t date much. I’ve always been a relationship girl – years with the same person and valuing consistency, stability, and loyalty.
In retrospect though, I never quite lived in the moment throughout those years. I always had an idea in the back of my mind of what I expected during that point in my life and a looming deadline I subconsciously placed on that expectation. Until recently, this didn’t usually have anything to do with my boyfriend, but rather expectations I placed on myself or to appease others’ expectations of me.
I have always thought two steps ahead; it just comes naturally to me. I’ve been so successful in my academic and professional careers by strategizing and planning, that I assumed my love life would prosper the same way. I only found out recently how wrong I had been for so many years and I’m kind of ashamed to admit I wasted so much time over-analyzing and wishing for something I didn’t yet have, that I lost out on the opportunity to live in the moment and fully appreciate the many blessings that I already had.
My various relationships were fulfilling and taught me wonderful things about myself, some even showed me how strong I am and how much pain I can endure. But sadly, these self-realizations never occurred in real time. They came months, sometimes years, after relationships ended and I had found clarity and closure. I was too busy wanting what I didn’t have to realize how wonderful my relationships already were.
This is one of my favorite quotes and is from Milan Kundera’s novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being:
“Perhaps all the questions we ask of love, to measure, test, probe, and save it, have the additional effect of cutting it short. Perhaps the reason we are unable to love is that we yearn to be loved, that is, we demand something (love) from our partner instead of delivering ourselves up to him demand-free and asking for nothing but his company.”
Reading that always gives me chills because it pinpoints exactly how I have contributed to my own pain, and others’.
I realize now how chasing desires can be so consuming and blinding. In a way though, it’s liberating to be aware of this character defect now, while I still have time to change and prevent this from happening again. So that got me thinking about the things I’ve been craving all these years…were they really important? They seemed important at the time, and they varied depending on my age and the stages of life I was in. Maybe they were and maybe fighting and pushing for these achievements make me who I am today.
I think my life has been a series of back-to-back events of trying to prove something to someone. In high school, I was focused on proving to myself and others, that I could get accepted to a great four-year university. I never once even went to a high school party because I was so focused on my academics and my boyfriend at the time. Poor guy though, I don’t think he ever really had my attention 100%. I certainly didn’t appreciate him or all he did for me during the years we were together, but looking back now, I value those years we spent together because he encouraged me to focus on what was important to me at the time, and that was my education. Im grateful to him now, but I don’t think I thanked him enough during that time when he was my biggest supporter.
While I was in Norway, I spent years focusing on proving myself worthy enough of staying in Norway. I tried to prove this to myself, to the Norwegian government, to my friends in Norway, and it was exhausting. I don’t think I really lived when I was in Norway, I just hustled and I pushed for a visa, twice, to be able to stay, it was a constant battle. It took a toll on me and I think it prevented me from fully appreciating the gifts I was blessed with: my relationship at that time and the ability to spend those years of my life in such an incredible country. I had grown up a bit by this point, so I think I was a better girlfriend than I was to my high school boyfriend, but I wasn’t the person I am today: I was not able to convey my gratitude fully.
My most recent relationships reaffirmed what Milan Kundera so wisely wrote in his book about the things we demand of love: expectations kill love – they attempt to contain a fire that naturally burns wild. Ignoring love’s power and beauty in my life also kills love, and I see that now. Love comes in all shapes, in types I didn’t know I had, in unexpected serendipitous meetings with someone I haven’t seen in 10 years. Love is so precious and rare for me, and I vow that next time I am blessed to meet it face-to-face: I will focus on one day at a time, I’ll be grateful for what I have in that moment, and I will not worry about what else I think I want.
I’ve come to realize recently that my ego is my worst enemy. It makes me think I want something but most often, I don’t actually want it, I just want to know I can have it if I choose to. I’ve learned to take a step back and ask myself if it’s just my ego that is fighting to know it can have it, or if I sincerely want or need to have it.
I’m at a point where I know I can achieve anything I want when I put my mind to it, my mind and my will are really that powerful. But like a naïve child playing with fire, I have to be careful what I wish for – just because I can have it, doesn’t mean I should.