Dear me at 18:
Everything important is complicated.
Please, ponder those words for a while.
I know it’s not a popular opinion to have, but relationships take work. In our disposable culture, people see relationships like toasters: If one is broken, you just pitch it and get another. Surely the next toaster will be faster and shinier. This is true: the next toaster will always be faster and shinier- for a while. But eventually it will begin to collect burnt crumbs in the crevices you can’t reach and will set off your smoke detector every time you use it, just like the last one. And soon, you’ll just have this pile of broken toasters in your life and you may decide never to toast your bread again. Or you may decide to buy a Panini press.
I suppose what I’m getting at with my tangential metaphor is that the “perfect love” that you think you’ll find- that Cinderella, can’t live without you, happy all the time, always on the same page kind of love- well… it doesn’t exist. I’m sorry.
You’ve been with your first love for three years now. You’ve experienced so much together. He makes you laugh. He cares about you a great deal. He’s your best friend.
But sometimes you argue. He doesn’t like to read. He gets frustrated about the smallest things. And you find his obsession with “the scene” to be so juvenile.
So you’re about to break up with him. You think that it will be fun to “play the field” for a while. You think that your life will be so much more adult when you’re single. Most importantly, you just think that your relationship shouldn’t be so complicated. You think you should just agree on things, have fun, and be in love.
Here’s some news: Every relationship is complicated. Your relationships with your parents, your friends, and in the future, your children, will always be very complicated. Nothing worth while in life is easy or straight forward. Things are never the way that you imagine them to be, and life never goes totally according to plan.
People are complicated. Emotions are complicated. Life is complicated. When you combine two people, their respective emotions and lives, well- you guessed it- things get complicated.
To expend energy thinking “life shouldn’t be this way” is a waste of time. There is no “should”. There only “is”. Learn to be more zen and roll with the tides, and to embrace life’s little complications. They may not be what you expected, but isn’t there something kind of wonderful about the surprise of it all?
Now, I’m not telling you stay with him. He’s not the dude you wind up with in the end, so you’ll need to move on at some point. (although, if you just hang in there a couple more years you could avoid some real losers. Sorry. Just saying.)
You will meet the man of your dreams, fall in love and start an incredible little family. But first, your definition of “your dreams” needs to change. Yes, you will have that can’t live without you, Cinderella kind of love in many ways. You will be crazy about each other. But you will also drive each other crazy sometimes. And that’s okay.
There are so many lessons to be learned through your first love. They’ll give you some of the most important opportunities to grow that you’ll ever experience. Embrace them all, my dear.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go tend to my smoke alarm. The toaster must be on the fritz again.