You know that feeling when you get every last thing that you want? When the stars align, the fridge is full, and all the boys call? No? Me either.
I do, however, have a great many of the things that I want. So many of them, in fact, that all past versions of myself are extremely jealous of the present incarnation. I’ve been struck with a wave of gratefulness and believe it to be one of those feelings that we should slather all over and wallow around in if at all possible. A recent extended break brightened the shine on the charm of my daily life, because I was able to zoom out. Focus less on the frustrations and obstacles, more on the successes and joys.
It is easier to hear criticism than praise, harder to see progress than failure, and natural to focus on what is missing. As a motivational force for aspiration and ambition these things are rather helpful. However, not great for existential satisfaction. Which is where the breaks come in. The deep breath smell the roses stop and take a look around moments take over for just a minute. Your brain and your calendar both turn to mute so that you can see how great your life is without the itchy pollen of doubt, panic, and disappointment.
I just felt that way. It was pretty great.
There are so many things that girls do when they are getting ready to go out. And a few extra things when getting ready to go out on a first date. Even with hours of preparation, part of you is always ready for something to go, if not wrong, then not quite right. That’s why you bring three different lip products, a pen, and a bottle opener (just me?). But there are some things you do not worry about. Things you take for granted. Things like your ability to open doors.
It’s the sort of thing that I would normally chalk up to being the kind of incident that would and could only happen to me, except that is not the case. My first thought when I realised I could not open a door was that a friend of mine had been in the exact same situation months before and I hadn’t really understood what she meant. But I did now. So, of course I texted her to let her know that she was not alone. But I was. Trapped on the wrong side of a door I could not open.
How did I get from first dates to locked doors? And were the authorities involved? No, legal action was not taken against my date, but a friend did later suggest that I was technically a hostage. I feel it is important to share this story for the sake of preventing its repetition and simply making you feel less alone if this was once you and you thought you were the only one. Since the evening did include interaction with another person, who possibly does not want moments of their lives explicitly detailed on the internet, I hope you will forgive the necessarily vague descriptions.
Boy asked out girl. Girl met boy at restaurant. Boy and girl ate food. Boy and girl had drinks. Then they had some more drinks. Girl came in for one more drink. She was then more surprised than she should have been that drink was not only thing on boy’s mind. She very sensibly made her way to the door… and could not, for the life of her, open it. The knob turned but the door did not open. The lock flipped, but the door did not open. Boy could not conceptualize that girl couldn’t open a door (nice of him really) and continued wooing efforts. Girl used wiles to get boy to open door for her and ran away home.
Don’t be that girl. There’s no living it down. I still have no idea how he opened the door.
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Just because you get to know a person does not make them any less a person. And just because you like a person does not mean you use them for the things you like and leave the rest.
Too many people are treating the romantic interests in their life like their own personal stash of flavoured jams lined up on a shelf. Strawberry for Mondays. Grape on the weekends. Raspberry for special occasions. But putting people back on the shelf when you’ve had enough, and have a taste for something a bit different, and then picking them up when you remember how nice they were, is a pretty shit thing to do. Because while jam comes with a handy lid that maintains the status quo while your off on a multi flavoured jam frenzy, people do not.
I get it. They are all sweet, and colourful, and shiny in their own special way. And every time you open a new one they make that really satisfying, sucking, pop sound. But if you take a few bites off the top and set it back down again you are left with someone who feels a bit hollow and can’t help but wonder why you picked up the spoon in the first place.
So, you don’t like seeds. Or pulp. Fine, no problem. Pass it along to someone else. Don’t leave the jam on the shelf, missing all the good bits, until it’s lost all the appeal it ever had. It isn’t fair to the jam, or your new jam, or other jam lovers. Sure, life isn’t fair, but that is no excuse to go around buying up every flavour of jam you can find only to let it sit in the pantry until you are in the mood for it. I know you take a bite here and there to keep it shiny on top, and honestly that’s worse. Pass it along to someone who really really likes apricot. There are starving children in the world.
People are not meant to sit on shelves waiting for willing spoons. Don’t be that spoon. And don’t be that jam. You are not raspberry jam.
I’m not looking for much.
Just someone that talks to me as much as he flirts with me. That wants me when I’m not there as much as he does when I am.
I’m really not looking for much.
I don’t need him to call me everyday. Or tell me about every person he plans to see.
Because I’m not looking for much.
I want him to care. To want to make me happy. To wonder what I think about something.
And I want to wonder what he thinks, too. To like more than being liked.
I don’t want much.
The bar is really very low.
For the stranger who comes along and tries.
You don’t want to know because you’re happier not knowing. You don’t want to know because what you really want is to judge, to have a reason to say what you wanted to say anyway. You don’t want to know because it’s not what you want to hear.
Yes, of course, happiness, like beauty, is all about the eye of the beholder and perception is objective, and blah blah blah. Tailor your expectations accordingly and the world is your oyster, or possibly some other less slimy delicacy.
Not going to be blowing the lid off of that one today. Instead we are going to take a minute to discuss the happiness of your relatives. More importantly, how fickle and unimportant it is. Maybe don’t read this aloud at Thanksgiving.
Some of us have always been the type to try and make everyone around them happy. Some of us have been the type to make themselves happy and wait for everyone else to fall in line. With any luck both of these people grow up to realize that the people around you matter and should be treated with consideration, but no more or less than yourself. And now humanity is universally self-actualized. Or not.
Assuming a slim majority of us claw our way somewhere into the median spectrum, our work is not yet done. Even when we’ve determined how things should go the people closest to us always seem to present an exception. They aren’t ‘just anyone’. They deserve more time. Or you deserve more of theirs. Or they will forgive you because they have to. (This is not universally bad, and when your mother asks you for help, you do it.) When this throws the happiness scale out of balance its a problem, and its no way to treat people you care about.
Despite how tempting it can be to indulge our desires to control the feelings of loved ones we cannot take responsibility of anyone else’s happiness. That’s their job. We can try not to hurt them. We can empathize when someone else does. But sacrificing your own for theirs is only for married people. And sometimes your children (though their teachers would appreciate it if you told them no sometimes, just for the fun of it).
The pleasant shiny person you’re going to be when your happiness matters as much as everyone else’s will make them happier anyway. Maybe not right away. They’ll have got used to you being their emotional on call chef. But eventually, if they care about you too and see you truly happy, they will be happy too. And then you can skip and frolic and stuff.