At some point during the romantic roller-coaster of your early 20s, you will find yourself sitting on a table with your girlfriends, lamenting over yet another bitter, amorous disappointment. You will be drinking slightly diluted Aperol, from the ice that’s already melted. After a deep sigh, say something along the lines of: “So I guess it’s just time to focus on myself”; “Maybe I should just put all of my energy into my work, sign up for the gym, and finally do WHAT I WANT.” And let’s assume, for the sake of the argument, that your girlfriends don’t know you well enough and shared your pretended enthusiasm for you mature plans — but how much of what you said is truly what you WANT?
I remember one bright morning, that completely lacked foreshadowing, when I was about 12 years old, I was told that I had to get my tonsils out. It was not a pleasant operation, and in many ways it resembles being dumped. One minute you’ve got a perfectly functional organ in your body and then all of a sudden it just swells up, starts hurting and before you know it— you need to take it out. Sometimes, actually, most of the time, this removal is performed against your will. It’s not unlike when, having been dumped, you suddenly become painfully aware of the fact that love is all ever anyone sings about on the radio; after having your tonsils removed, every swallow is a painful reminder of what’s missing. But eventually, you get used to it and the pain fades away.
But anyway, back to my point: I was remembering how, after my operation, my mom acted incredibly nice to me! So nice, that if it wasn’t for the fact that I lost an organ in my throat, getting my tonsils out might have become a hobby of mine. I was suddenly allowed to do all those things that I had not dreamt of in a million years. Like eating KFC two nights in a row, staying up past my bedtime, or watching PC12 movies. No matter how strict my mom is (and you’d probably give her a 10 out of 10 in that respect), I can’t imagine her saying— “OK, honey, I know that’s been quite painful, but now it’s time to go back home and solve some math problems because when you ace your math exam- you’ll be really proud of yourself!
And yet, this is exactly what we try to do to ourselves after our hearts have been bruised.
We vow that we are now to enter celibacy, when in truth we want to find someone who has the face features of Marlon Brando and make sweet, rough love to him until we feel earth’s tectonic plates displaced. We bury ourselves in work, hustling for our worth, despite how often the tears smear the ink on the page. We say we must start going to the gym four times a week instead of three so that at least that bastard can feel sorry till the end of his days. But the gym is the last place we want to be, and really, how will his cognitive dissonance aid your current state of affairs?
So I guess what I am saying is, when it hurts, it’s the time to be the person you needed as a child, not the one you always feared. Allow yourself to act irresponsibly and go wild, sign up for Tinder or match.com, if that’s what rocks your boat, take a break from work and eat ice cream for breakfast. Because at the end of the day, it’s the love you give yourself that helps you fall asleep at night not your medals, nor your golden stars.
I too, have felt the underlying fear, that one morning I will wake up and my heart, after having gone through enough disappointment, would have given up on love. The net worth of energy expanded compared to that which has been received would be too big of a discrepancy. But, trust me, when I say, it won’t, it can’t. Unlike other organs, this one stays forever committed to its purpose. Always beating, always hoping, always searching.