Will you marry me?
My legs, built on the chocolate milk they would give us at lunch time, wobbled as they struggled to balance my tiny body on one knee. I had gathered some tin foil from one of the drawers in the kitchen and precariously molded it into the shape of a ring. I wasn’t really sure why I was asking this question to the daughter of my mom’s friend Hayley, or what anything I was doing actually meant in the grand scheme of things, but I went along with it anyway. She said yes (without commenting on the price of the ring, I might add), we hugged, and never spoke of the moment again.
Now unfortunately, cooties robbed me of my preschool romance pretty early on. In fact, I never shared that same level of personal interaction with a girl until I was nearly an adult. However, even as a young child I still had this concept of love and companionship engrained in my mind — we all did. Did I know what true love would actually require of me, that I would need to be able to communicate, to make sacrifices, to be open and honest? Absolutely not. It takes some people a lifetime to find that out. The point though was that we subconsciously understood that life would be easier with someone their by our side.
As I’ve grown older, I have noticed a shift in our collective mindset when it comes to this issue. Which makes sense, considering when according to the American Psychological Association, about 50 percent of marriages will end in divorce. Teenagers and even adults are told today that they don’t need anybody else to be happy. Being shackled by the weight of someone else apparently holds us back and only leads to dissapointment. We are strong, we are capable of taking control and living a healthy life by ourselves. I would like to tell my story about how these claims aren’t necessarily true all the time.
Now to be clear, I am not trying to argue that focusing on oneself is a bad thing. This is a complicated issue because there is a fine line between self-growth and self-reliance. We should always try to better ourselves and attempt to become the best version of ourselves as possible. But becoming a better person is different than being fully independent in all facets of life. Here’s my story:
I never had a relationship in high school. Maybe it was the braces, maybe it was my lack of self-confidence, or maybe I was just unlucky. It didn’t bother me that much anyway because I had become so used to doing things on my own. When you live like this you don’t truly realize just what is happening. For example, back then I was beginning to experience symptoms of my mental illness. I would sit down in the shower and feel pain from my very existence. Back then, I would shout into the void and nothing would shout back. I told myself I wasn’t good enough, and that was the only opinion I ever heard. I was alone, but I wasn’t strong enough — I would never be.
Let’s fast forward to today. Just when I believed I would never find someone that would find any sort of value in me, she appeared right in front of my very eyes. The love I have for her is stronger than anything I’ve felt in my entire life. Those negative thoughts I had aren’t the only things surrounding me anymore. For every you’re not good enough there’s an even stronger you’re a great person. The unconditional love we share works better than any therapy or medication I ever tried. That’s because I’m now able to accept that maybe I don’t have to be in control all the time. Maybe I don’t have to be strong all the time. As human beings we are imperfect and to expect ourselves to be able to tackle this crazy world we call home alone is a daunting task. I’m still learning even now to accept that I am worthy of being loved despite my flaws, but what my relationship has taught me is that I don’t have to face this life by myself as I had previously thought. All I can be is thankful that I have someone that is willing to go on this crazy journey with me.
I guess what I’m saying here is that I think everyone should give love a chance. I’m sure there are people out there that will enjoy life and be just fine all by themselves. I know that people have had their hearts broken and are afraid of trusting someone again. All I know is that if you find the right person, you might find that you’ve ended up happier than you ever were before. If I somehow ran into my four-year-old self, I would tell him to keep believing in whatever his twisted idea of love was. Because it turns out that all I ever needed was another voice, another person in order to be happy.