Sunday: a day for bottomless mimosas, hangovers masked by dark sunglasses, and a rather concealed section of the Times that can be described as either the best— or the worst— by young bachelorettes: “The Vows.”
If you don’t frequent the starched pages of the New York Times, you might not be aware of this particular section, which documents the “I do’s” of New York’s finest. To me, it’s a hidden gem. To some, it’s a waste of ink. Quite frankly, after leafing through the foremost pages’ politics, crime, and turmoil overseas, “The Vows” serves as a palette cleanser of sorts.
Last night, myself and a few friends clustered in a twin bed to read this Sunday’s “Vows,” devouring every word. Between paragraphs we’d discuss everything from our dream spouses, to bridesmaids’ dresses, down to every last detail such as cake flavors and invitation fonts. “My future husband…” this, “My future kids…” that.
Halfway through this late-night Times session, I reached for a ballpoint and scrawled into the margin of one of the pages: “why do we settle for anything less than magic in our relationships?”
And in typical fashion, this fleeting thought of mine has inspired a blog post.
Even if we don’t have it written out in pen and ink, each of us has some sort of mental list illustrating what our ‘ideal life’ looks like. Granted, I’m all about accepting the unexpected in life and not being afraid of the unknown, but I, too, have a picture of how I’d like to be living my life, tucked out-of-sight in my brain somewhere.
Side note: It’s normal for our ‘ideal life’ list to change as we grow, and sometimes things that we “never in a million years” would want, becomes a cherished blessing. But this is besides my point.
In the words of my favorite poet, R.H. Sin:
“What we claim we want rarely matches up with what we allow or accept.”
It’s almost like we know what we want and deserve, to an extent. We’re not stupid. But, we accept something else, just to not upset the balance. If we lash out too quickly in a feverish expression of “wait, this isn’t what I want!!! I don’t deserve this!!!!” we could potentially scare the shit out of everyone we know. So, we stay rooted right where we are. Even if it isn’t ideal.
It is quite alarming when I consider the sheer number of my personal friends and family—myself included— that have ever felt “stuck.”
Stuck with an emotionally abusive boyfriend.
Stuck in a major that they strongly hate.
Stuck in a battle over their appearance.
We’ve been so stuck in this unwanted quicksand that life has dealt us, and instead of grabbing a nearby vine and hauling our asses out, we’ve settled. We’ve accepted that this is ‘just how it goes’ and that we’ll have to ‘suck it up and maybe things will get better’.
A prime example: toxic relationships and feeling “stuck” with people.
A lot of us sometimes feel trapped in our relationships and we don’t quite know why.
I’ve known friends who have been cheated on repetitively, and still refuse to leave the relationship in the past. I used to be angry on my friend’s behalf, thinking, “how on earth could you stay with a cheater?!” But then it dawned on me that perhaps it isn’t their stupidity that causes one party to stay with a cheating second party— it’s their optimism.
The reason why we can’t let go of people sometimes, is because deep down we still feel hope.
“Maybe if I stay, things will get better. He’ll stop. He’ll love only me,” we think to ourselves, desperately, searching for any shred of hope that we can latch onto. We replay the “good times” in our heads like a vintage highlight reel.
But riddle me this: has any child ever dreamt, “when I grow up, I want to be with a man who is repetitively unfaithful. I want to be with someone who I put up with, simply because I’m either too in love— or too afraid— to leave.” I certainly hope not.
However, it’s much deeper than this simple concept, and we all know it.
Quitting cigarettes is one thing, but a completely separate beast is trying to quit a person, cold-turkey.
It doesn’t even have to be as severe as cheating. There is a feeling that creeps into relationships sometimes (with boyfriends, girlfriends, best friends, etc.) in which we just don’t vibe with it as much as we used to. Call it “falling out of love,” “boredom,” or simply a sensation of “blah.”
So why do we stay? Why do we remain where we are not entirely happy?
Are we lazy? Busy? Or, rather, just so deathly afraid of the unknown?
More times than not, it’s fear that binds us to certain unwanted elements of our lives.
I don’t know about you, but in ten years I want to smile stupidly to myself in a moment of pure joy— opening sleepy eyes to see my loving, strong husband in bed next to me, hearing the sounds of the electric city below, the sun reflecting off of the exposed brick of my ideal apartment in SoHo…
Ten years from now, I want to be able to say that I had a hand in cultivating my life, and didn’t settle for the cards that were thrown my way.
If you find yourself living a life that doesn't feel like it belongs to you, change it.
At one point in my life, I so desperately wanted to sprout a six-pack of abs overnight.
A nutritionist told me, “you can’t expect to see change in your appearance if you keep eating the same way you always have. Abs are made in the kitchen.”
So, I traded my cool ranch Doritos for kale.
The same thing goes for your life. If you want to start living a beautiful life that you wholeheartedly deserve, you can’t keep living the way you’ve always lived. You can’t keep tolerating the same things that you’ve always tolerated.
You can’t keep accepting dirt when you deserve diamonds.
It’s like ordering the prime rib and settling when the waiter brings you a questionable-looking slab of meatloaf by mistake. “Ah, it’s alright, this is just how it goes!”
You aren’t stupid for being optimistic about parts of your life that aren’t going well. However, if you know in your heart that you are in a place, or with a person, that isn’t working, you’d be stupid to stay.
Photos used in this article do not belong to me.