Whether it’s the fairy tale “happily ever after” endings we fell in love with when we were kids or the tragic fifth acts of every Shakespeare play we had to endure during high school, we have been taught that all things come to somewhat of an end. Books have final chapters. Essays have concluding paragraphs. Characters either fall in love or get torn apart. The universe works its magic to close doors and allow new ones to open up.
It’s a recipe for success- this notion that every story must have a distinct beginning, middle and end. Of course, with attachment being part of human nature, it’s no surprise that we crave a good ending. When we invest so much of our time and energy into something, we want things to go according to our plan. And when things don’t? Well, look to just how crazy fans of any TV show get when they don’t get the series finale they “deserve”.
But the truth is, the finale of How I Met Your Mother or Pretty Little Liars is nothing compared to how endings play out in reality. Because when all is said and done, life rarely gifts us with the endings we want. And what’s more, is that more often than not, we’re not given an ending at all.
Perhaps in an “ideal” world, all loose ends are tied up. Questions we have been asking ourselves forever are finally answered. Things we have struggled to understand start to make sense, for once and for all.
Maybe in a different life, we get the explanations that we deserve. We get the closure that we so desperately need. Lovers don’t become strangers in the blink of an eye, without a reason why. People get the chance to have a proper goodbye.
But in this life, things aren’t always as cut and dry as they should be. We don’t get the answers that we need to move on. Strings of our past sometimes find a way to tangle themselves with the ones of our future. Lingering feelings and unspoken words make living in the moment a lot harder than it seems.
Frustration and confusion become our best friends when we don’t get the endings we thought we deserved. We want to know that there is some sort of rhyme or reason to everything that we’ve been put through. We want to be able to understand why things happened the way they did. We want to know that everything makes sense. And ultimately, at the end of the day, all we ever want to know is that we will end up being okay.
The thing is, whether we get our happy ending or no ending at all, we’ll never know what the future has in store for us, because life isn’t about beginnings or ends.
Our lives are not meant to be bound in the pages of the best-selling fiction novels we see on shelves. Right now, we exist at a specific time, place and circumstance- a set of conditions that will likely change for the rest of our lives. Every person we’ve fallen in love with or every experience that’s opened our eyes has played a part in getting us to where we are in this very moment. No matter how many of those people have left without saying goodbye or how many situations didn’t necessarily turn out the way we expected them to, our lives have not yet stopped. Our hearts continue to beat without these endings we think we so desperately need. Our stories are far from over.
We are humans who grow for a living. We absorb love, suffering, heartbreak, laughter and sadness from our world and the people we meet within it. But above all, we learn, evolve and change from all of the endings that have left us disappointed or have never come our way.
See, life is too messy to be broken down into parts. Feelings are too strong to be contained in the words of a final page. For as long as we continue to breathe in the complexities of this world, we are not a collection of beginnings and ends- we are everything that comes in between.