Link columnist Beth Ritchie comes to a realisation both brutal and reassuring
It's finally dawning on me that life is basically one long existential crisis. We bounce from one big life event to the next, and if we're lucky we might get to do a bit of calm and stable living in between, when we're not pondering life's big questions.
Anyone that feels a certainty about who they are, and a security about the things and people in their lives is damn lucky, and I think quite rare if we are honest with ourselves. Because if these last couple of years have taught us anything, it’s that life is rarely predictable.
As a kid, if you're fortunate enough to be born into what we in the west consider to be a "good home", you feel secure and happy in the knowledge that no one is going anywhere. Then, people start dying or breakups happen, and you realise that family isn't forever.
Then, as an adult, you meet someone, and you start your own family, and you feel that same security and comfort. Then people start dying or breakups happen, and you realise that relationships aren't forever either. (And if you're anything like me, this bit happens multiple times, just to really drive the point home).
But conversely, at the very core of human nature, and maybe due to the transient quality of life itself, is a need for lasting connection. Which means that all we really want is someone who comes with a guarantee. We can’t help it, we’re human.
Yet I'm starting to feel as if my innate heart's desire just doesn't exist, because hindsight has taught me that I've never really experienced it beyond the confines of my own imagination.
Each life milestone always leads me back to the same stark thought… We come into this world alone and we die alone. And the only guaranteed, never ending, 100% reliable relationship we're ever going to get in between those two events is the one we have with ourselves.
Each time I come to this realisation it is both brutal and reassuring in equal measures.
Reassuring because there's someone I know I can always rely on to be there no matter what.
Brutal because I'd really like it if there WAS someone who I could trust to never be far from my side, and feel the same sense of responsibility to me and have my best interests in mind, just as much as their own, always.
Now I see that written down I realise how utterly ridiculous that is. Ain't no one gonna put my best interests before their own, and anyone that would, would only do so until it stops serving them.
Because peel back the layers and we're all the same. No matter how much we profess to love anyone, and genuinely feel that that person is our "soul mate" or whatever, our own interests must ultimately come first. Otherwise, we're doing ourselves a disservice and not honouring the one true, guaranteed love of our lives. Ourselves.
And a life where we don’t value or honour ourselves is a life half lived.
I'm very happy by myself. I have carved out a full, stable, and happy single life that is always there for me each time a relationship comes to an end (yep serial monogamist right here). I don't feel anything is missing in my life and I am a whole person whether single or in a relationship (hours and hours of counselling, journaling and self work has guaranteed that).
So, while this notion of finding the person with the guarantee always returns (usually when I think I've found them), these milestone events keep coming along to remind me that the only person I really need is me.
And that's ok because luckily, I can trust myself to not go anywhere.
Is that depressing or empowering? Well only you can decide for yourself.
(And actually, all the coolest women in the world are/were single well into their 40s, I mean I'm basically Jennifer Aniston or Kylie at this point.)