It really has been a while; hasn’t it? I agree. I’m sorry; I promised myself and by extension, you who is reading that I will not write for the sake of writing, I will write when I feel overwhelmingly prompted to write. Don’t let that statement fool you; that does not mean I will be writing primarily based on feelings, no, those always come second, maybe third sometimes. Enough about that.
So I had an interesting lunch with a few former classmates recently from different parts of the world. It’s interesting how conversations evolve over the years; five years ago we would be talking about how the prefect’s timetable should look like and why there was no chicken-pie on Thursdays in the tuck-shop at school as we had gotten used to. Now there we were, talking about work and marriage and relationships like we were thirty-five. So this was the gist of the conversation. In the conversation, X, Y and Z were girls while A and B were guys:
X: I don’t think I’ll get married
Y: Why not? (No pun intended)
A: Me neither, but why not?
Y: Lol ‘A’ with your record with women I’d believe anyone else before you…
X, Y, Z, A, B: Shade!
A: Well that just means that we haven’t spoken in a while so you’re speaking from a point of ignorance
B: But X is right, neither will I
Y: You I can believe, why not?
X: Because well marriage is just not for me-
B: Have you seen the number of people getting hurt here? It’s not worth it…
Z: Actually you’re right but is that a reason to not get married?
B: Let’s think about this. At our age, give me any successful relationships of people our age
X, Y, Z, A, B: *Crickets
X: Well there was… no, they broke up-
Y: How about…? Oh, wait, you said people our age-
Z: No I don’t think that’s true. Y are you still with-
Y: I’m not talking about it-
A: Right, so clearly there are no serious relationships of people our age-
B: That’s what I’m saying. Dating anyone right now is a waste of time. Especially for you girls, I just look at you and I wonder: aren’t you tired of getting hurt? Boys are assholes, just go read a book or something. Boys move on immediately and we have to stay nursing your injuries-
A: That’s actually true. Boys are assholes. Girls should save themselves because guys our age will just hurt you. I’m a guy, I would know. But even if that’s the case, how else will you learn how to be in a relationship X and B?
B: Well I’ll just learn from other people’s examples; I don’t have to get heart-broken to learn a lesson
X: Yeah I’m with B there. I can see other people’s mistakes so I’ll know how to do things differently
We left that conversation on that pessimistic note but with many lessons. B and X did have a point: is it necessary to take yourself into a position of harvesting pain when you can learn from the mistakes of others? Does it really make sense to throw yourself headfirst into a relationship if you know you will just get hurt? It actually did make some sense, but some background information, B and X had never been in any long-term relationships so they were speaking maybe from a personally theoretical viewpoint. They had not had their own hearts broken as a result of a failed serious and long-term relationship. A, Y and Z had been in at least one long-term relationship. This is what I wanted to write about today actually: facing any kind of pain personally.
Benjamin Franklin once shared that “Those things that hurt, instruct.” This makes some sense, until you’re the one who is hurting and you end up in pain. Most people don’t like pain, actually in our society, it is considered quite kinky to like pain, isn’t it? However, pain is kind of inevitable: you don’t plan to look for pain unless it is part of a desired end-process, such as a tattoo, or a piercing. Pain happens: you can cut yourself while chopping fruits, you can accidentally bite yourself while chewing too fast, and you can lose a close friend or a family member. Shit happens without your permission really. It doesn’t ask in advance: one day you’re here sitting with a friend, laughing, the next day you’re being frantically told that he was in a fatal car accident. Pain comes, and it is part of life really.
As human beings, we come up with several ways to deal with pain: some of us smoke up, some of us drink up, some of us hit the gym, some of us cry, some of us talk it out with people we love, some of us intentionally forget, some of us ignore it and act like nothing has happened. We come up with different ways to deal; and that’s the point really. You cannot avoid pain; but you can avoid stupidity. Not having a relationship with someone who was obviously unhealthy for you from the beginning because you knew you “couldn’t change him” or he “wouldn’t change for you” may be classified as avoiding stupidity. However, maybe rejecting someone who you are attracted to (and who is attracted to you) and who is your friend and who actually gives a damn about you beyond the physicals on the basis of “you don’t wanna get hurt” might be pushing the envelope a bit too far.
When we are confronted by pain as human beings, this summons our courage and our humanity. Most of us avoid pain because pain reminds us that we are human beings; pain forces us to confront our vulnerability and our humanity and brings us down from our high horses. Personally, pain confuses me and reminds me that I’m just not as high and mighty as I think I am. Pain disorganizes my system of growth and destroys how far I’ve come as a person, reminding me that I’m just as gullible as everyone else is. If I’m that afraid of pain then is my foundation really that strong in the person I’ve designed myself to be? If you are that afraid of pain then are you as confident in who you are as you claim to be?
Have we thought that maybe the procrastination of pain makes its eventuality more painful than if we just confronted reality once and for all? See, I’m just thinking; if you keep on riding on others’ mistakes, when you eventually make your own, how will you come up with the courage and honesty to confront it? Because you certainly can borrow stories of pain and lessons, but can you borrow the courage required to deal with the situation? Have you developed the willpower necessary to accept the wisdom on how to dissolve the problem?
In the conversation shared above, it was true, we struggled to come up with even five functional relationships of people our age (oldest 24) and we had three different continents represented so it was no joke really (though it was). Some of us had learnt that maybe we were just not ready for such serious and steadfast commitments after harvesting the pain of broken hearts and relationships. But who’s to say that those who had not had their hearts broken were any better off? Those who had been in serious committed relationships perhaps knew the value of pain and the wisdom of getting over the loss of something that you once loved that is now no more. I’m not saying you jump on every boy or girl who shows a little bit of seriousness past getting into your pants; I’m just saying pain shouldn’t be what stops you. Pain happens either way; if you won’t deal with it in a relationship you’ll deal with it in what you thought was a friendship or in death of someone you adored. Then again; pain is pain. Life is life.