Relationships are incredibly tricky, but they really shouldn’t be. Relationships, founded in true and honest love, should and are incredibly easy.
I recently watched Jigsaw, a Netflix stand-up comedy written and performed by Daniel Sloss. If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend. The main focus of his bits, among his disdain for veganism and his parent’s disgusting affection for one another, is the concept of relationships and how they relate to a jigsaw puzzle.
He argues one’s life journey is like completing a jigsaw puzzle. Each corner relates to your family, your friends, your career, your hobbies, and the middle relates to happiness, whether that be a relationship, your passion, etc., and a lot of people, because they don’t know themselves well, force the piece in the middle to fit, even when it doesn’t. Often, people equate relationships to happiness, and they often force the piece of a relationship to work.
As I was watching this, it hit me: I have forced the jigsaw puzzle. I’ve forced many a relationship far past their breaking point. That was my MO. Sitting there, in a relationship that had fallen apart, but staying, fighting the inevitable, as if it were my fault the pieces of two different puzzles didn’t fit.
I’m not alone in this fight. My friends, my family, peers and acquaintances. I come from a long line of women who have been taught their role in life is to fix broken men; to hurt so they may be free; to accept the slings and arrows they may throw; to fix the broken men who show us a menial amount of affection; to accept crumbs and call themselves full.
It took me graduating from college, moving 6 hours away from family and friends, and living completely alone for me to realize I was not happy with the jigsaw puzzle piece I was desperately forcing into my puzzle. I thought if I could make my relationship work, I would be happy. I had been convinced, by a cocktail of societal pressures, pressures from friends and family, and my untreated mental health issues, that a single person could fill the emptiness within me.
It turns out that isn’t true.
There is so much to happiness in life outside of a successful relationship with a lifelong partner. There is so much life to live, places to explore, things to try. To convince yourself the love of your life is someone who loves you 30% when you only love yourself 20% is preposterous, and to convince yourself the love of your life is someone you’ve spent a few years with is just plain deranged.
Time does not equal success. The love of your life will love you entirely, as you will love them entirely. The trick is to knowing yourself.
A little over a year ago, I set out on that very journey: to find out who I was and to love myself completely. It was far from a smooth journey. I drank and went out a lot, I chased boys because I thought it would make me feel free, I succumbed to my anxiety, I had bouts where I was convinced I was supposed to be with this boy I had just left, and I was deeply unhappy.
It took a full year’s time—and me finally getting help for the anxiety and depression that plagued me my entire life—to realize what I wanted out of life. It took a full year for me to realize that I never have to figure out my life’s purpose to be happy. It took a full year—nay, it took much longer—for me to completely fall in love with myself.
My favorite quote to sum this up is from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
“For what it's worth: it's never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There's no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you're proud of. If you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”
May you find the courage to live the life you are proud of and the strength to start all over again.