A Broken Give-a-Damn

The day before my college graduation, standing in streets covered with a slippery thin sheet of ice, Mr. Idea and I screamed at each other hunched under an awning a block from my apartment.

It wasn’t either of our finest moments.

It ultimately led to me throwing a high-heeled shoe in his general direction out of frustration, unchartered emotion and a little bit of booze. It didn’t hit him but he was astonished at my actions so much that he screamed (much to the dismay of my roommate): “You threw a shoe at my face! Lindsay! What’s wrong with you?” Equally as loud but through a thick stream of tears and unflattering nose-runnage, I replied: “I just want you to make me feel like you care and you don’t!!! Why can’t you just make me feel better?”

I’d like to say I’ve grown out of that immature statement but the truth is, I’m not sure we ever do. Maybe those totally-Zen, consistently healthy and one-with-the-world people are clear and peaceful in their relationships, but I don’t happen to be part of that demographic.

I’m emotional. I’m impatient. I can overreact. I have a tendency to overanalyze. I think people should give me just as much as I give them, though I don’t take all that much. When I’m mad, I cry. When I’m sad, I cry. When I’m furious, I need to take a walk (and apparently throw things). And when I’m upset in a relationship, as I was with Mr. Idea and probably as I’ll be with any man I date, I tend to think they should make me feel a certain way.

They should be understanding and kind. They should sometimes prioritize me above other things. They should have my best interest at heart and work hard at bettering my life, just as I hope to make their day-to-day brighter. Promises should be made and kept, not haphazardly planned and forgotten. I consider myself a great catch and you, whoever it is that I’m dating, should treat me as such. You should know what you have when you have me, and gosh-darnit – you should make me feel like the most amazing creature on Earth.

Right?

Well, maybe that worked once upon a time in never-never land, but in real life, in real relationship that are messy, complicated and flat-out irritating at times – things aren’t so cut and dry. While your partner should make you happy and positively affect your existence, they are not and should not be responsible for making you feel any way. And if you find yourself yelling at the top of your lungs, Jimmy in hand, begging them to make you feel differently – maybe you should check yourself. Check your emotions. And above all – check on the relationship.

There will be ups and downs and there will be fights. Hell, arguing can even be healthy occasionally and shows you how someone handles themselves in the heat of the moment or when tensions brew. But if there are more bad times than good, if you’re not getting what you want, if you’re not feeling what you want to feel, if you’re not finding that loving feeling as often as you’re battling the urge to run away – then what are you doing?

You’re waiting for someone to make you feel a way you can’t with them and maybe asking them to feel something they don’t. And if you can’t and they don’t, then the answer to your questionable exit strategy is…go. Breathe. Revel in yourself and in the possibility to meet someone who doesn’t frustrate you. Who doesn’t stand outside in the cold threatening to break up with you on the eve of your college graduation.

Because really, the only person who can make you feel the way you want to feel is you. The you who one day finds a love that doesn’t make you doubt or wonder constantly. And if you’re with the wrong one, you can never meet the right one. If you’re too busy fighting, you don’t have any energy to love. And if there is no love left, then girl, go out and find it.

And before you find it, find yourself. Decide your give-a-damn is broken and make yourself feel so in love with you that nothing else can compare.

The Things I Don’t Know

The months before I graduated from college, however long ago, I couldn’t wait to get out. I had reached a point where anything and everything I was involved with or did was incredibly old. My classes stopped challenging me and I knew New York was in such a short reach, but it felt like I couldn’t extend to grasp it. I was in a relationship I knew was dead-end but my insecurities kept me from cutting the chord.

And yet, as I approached my graduation day (a semester earlier than anticipated, mind you) – I can’t count how many people warned, “Linds, college is the best time of your life. You’re going to miss it once you’re in the real world.”

I disagreed then, and I still beg to differ now.

Going away to school – even if it it’s just two hours away, like it was for me – teaches a kid a lot about growing up. You learn how to make Easy-Mac, how to avoid (or lose eventually) the freshmen 15, and how to force yourself to do things you do not want to do (biology at 8 a.m.). If you’re lucky, you also learn how to share a twin bed with someone, how to get over a college guy (or guys) with unfavorable intentions, and figure out not only your place on campus, but where you’ll be placed after you’re deemed certified by an accredited institution. When I was in college, I remember this feeling of not knowing where my life would go or if I’d ever get to the destination and the job I heavily preached and promised I’d arrive at. Because I never quite felt like I belonged on top of a mountain (imagine that) – I’m not sure I fully embraced being a college girl to the degree that I could have.

However, though I worried more than I partied, I also felt a sense of security by being in school.

When you’re a sophomore you know in a year, if all goes accordingly, you’ll be a junior. You have an idea of the track your courses will take or where you’ll rise in leadership at whatever organization you’re passionate about. You know when you’ll start applying for internships and you know when you’ll move out of the dorms and into an apartment. While there may be uncertainties about what happens after college, when you’re wrapped up in the books and the looks from upperclassmen you pass in the commons – you don’t have to wonder too much about what’s ahead of you. You basically know where you’ll be 12 months from that moment, no matter what. Perhaps it’s that feeling of not having to grow up too much, not having to plan everything out, or not having to stress over bills or if your career is heading down the right track or if you should be engaged or not, is what makes higher learning appear to be the best time of our lives.

Because once you’re out and you take on a city hundreds of miles away, all of the things you knew in college become all of the things you don’t know. If you ask me where I’ll be a year from now, I’d never be able to answer you. And for a while after I graduated, I hated all of the things I didn’t know.

There were no longer guarantees for my immediate future. There were no promises of housing and the comfort of the classroom never translated into an office. There wasn’t a sea of like-minded and similar-in-age people constantly surrounding me and the pool of dating options took a dive into deep diversity. There was no telling if the job I accepted would be the best move for me or if packing up all that I could into a few suitcases and taking a bite out of the Big Apple (or having it bite me) would be the start or the end of me. And while the majority of my classmates were heading (or planning to) down the aisle, I was ending a relationship and standing alone, without a friend, without a clue of where my life would go.

But, the older I get and the more comfortable I find myself in my own skin – I realize it’s the things I don’t know, the plans I can’t make, the questions I can’t answer – that ironically, make me the happiest. Dwelling in possibility opens up far more windows of opportunity than remaining in comfort. College may start the process of becoming an adult, but until you leave campus – you haven’t a clue about what living is actually about. More importantly, you don’t know who you really are yet or had the chance to define who you want to be – today or tomorrow.

And for now, the things I don’t know outweigh the things I do. One phone call, one offer from an unnamed source, one chance encounter in the middle of a city street or one email, one impossibility that evolves into a possibility, one opening in an international office, one impossible to pass up apartment, or one view on one page from one influential person – could change everything I know.

And it is the realization that everything, love and whatnot, is completely transitional, utterly temporary, and constantly in progression from one thing to another, that I realize the best days of my life were not years ago in college or even today – but rather, they on their way. They are in places, in people, in articles, in books, in magazines, in cities, in travels, in experiences, in trains, planes, and automobiles, in runs, in coffees, in embraces, in romantic escapes, in the laughter of children, in the growth of gray hairs, in all of the things – I’ve yet to experience.

When will I know I’ve reached the pivotal period where everything is just so, feels just right, and goes just as I hoped it would?  I don’t know. And really, I doubt I ever will.