For many of us, hitting the big Three-Oh is a source of anxiety and excitement. Anxiety because this is the point when everything in your life seems set and irreversible. The career that you are in at 30 would most likely be what you’d be doing for the rest of your life. Your relationship status at this time can speak of how your future relationships will be like. Friends you would acquire at this point would most probably be people you’ve met in the office or at the gym or at a mothers group.
I mean, it’s not like you can rock out to Dashboard Confessionals when you’re 30. It’s a little odd to wear your ripped up AC/DC shirt to work when you hit 30. Even dating college kids when you’re 30 seems a little messed up. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s the way expectations work at this point, how you think people will expect your life to be like.
I’m a control freak and turning 30 scares the hell out of me. Probably because all throughout going to school then college then work, even if there are so many uncertainties, you’d at least have a solid view of how life should be like. You’d have parents or relatives or friends who can help steer you to the direction that is acceptable and normal. When you’re 30, you’re a bonafide adult. No more taking the laundry to ze parent’s house. No more free pizza off a roommate’s floor. Thirty! Wow!
The good thing about turning 30 though is knowing these facts a) You’ve survived the first half of your life. b) You’d have loads of cool stuff that you should know about by now.
So. The stuff I’m listing down are things I’ve more or less learned about loving someone. If there’s anything that could help me see my way thru the next 20 to 30 more years, these are those things.
5. Love foolishly.
We will get every chance to do this in our twenties. Love the person who cannot love you back. Love the person who does not even know your name. Love the person who loves you ‘as a friend’. Love the person who isn’t ready. Love the person who loves in minutes and fleeting moments.
This is necessary to your survival. By loving someone who does not/ cannot/ will not hell no love you back, this gives you enough emotional leverage to love someone without expectation. Although it might not be as beautiful a thing as romantic movies say unrequited love could be, it teaches you a thing or two about yourself. You realize the capacity that you have to find humor and romance in situations that the average person can buckle under. You realize that you can give without remorse or regret. You learn how to walk away, unscathed, in time.
4. Love selflessly.
In 30 full years, you will experience doing things you do not understand or you do not like for people you love. Whether it is braving a storm to reach them, honoring a special but insane sort of request, or ordering fries from Carl’s Jr. every day for a year – these are things that you could go thru for people you love. It may seem silly and superficial while you’re doing all that but at least, you know that you were capable of giving a part of yourself for someone you care about.
You know how people say that you should keep your head above water, don’t give the other person everything about you etc etc. Don’t do that. Just don’t. Because loving someone fully never lessens the experience but makes it memorable, makes it count.
3. Chase after someone you like.
Pure adrenaline, this – pursuing someone or maybe something that is elusive and undefined. More often than not, it’s not the person we think we love, it’s the idea s/he represents. Every life has a dull moment. The things that you do that do not involve overthinking and demands that you act are experiences that make the dull moments more stellar.
2. Allow someone to make you happy.
The truly cynical are cynical for a reason. For me though, that cynicism can mark the end of having truly interesting experiences.
I once dated this guy who was an engineer. He was too serious for my taste, too dark. Inspite of that, I kept my mind open and trusted my instincts. True enough, three hours after, I got him laughing and talking. I learned a lot from him during the two years I spent with him. It wasn’t the best relationship but it was a really good one. Imagine if I wrote him off that first hour, I would have missed out on knowing and loving this great person.
1. Love is a daily exercise.
When I was in college, it was all romance for me. Over-the-top gestures meant someone loved you. If there’s one person I’d blame for my impossible standards then, it was John Cusack. For real. John Cusack calls you from a payphone under the rain. John Cusack stands out your window at 5am, holding a boom box. John Cusack is miserably in love with whoever he’s with onscreen. And I wanted that because I thought that’s what it’s supposed to be about. Misery and forlorn-ness and romantic chaos. But as I grew older, I learned how far away I was from the reality that was my life and my relationships. Love isn’t anything like that. It’s in the mundane, the small things, the usuals. It’s crossing over hurdles together all the time. It’s choosing to eat the same old pancake with the same old grumpy fellow day in and day out and that should be okay. It’s in the consistency of tv programs you watch together; it’s in the strand of grey hair he pulls excitedly out of his head, smiling.
It’s never easy, this whole business of loving someone. Deciding to love and be loved by anyone is nerve-wracking, tumultuous at times, and leaves you extremely vulnerable. Yet we still do all this over and over – we wait, we hope, we forgive – because this is what makes us human.