Yesterday’s walk down memory lane got me to thinking about how I felt about myself at different points in my life. I can remember standing in the middle of a pine woods in Gainesville Florida, where freshmen could park their cars, and crying my head off because I felt like there was too much knowledge in my head and that all that awesome knowledge was such a burden. It’s a wonder that High School Boyfriend didn’t just leave this overblown ego to ponder her magnificence alone right then and there. Nope, I didn’t know much at all.
In my twenties, I kept thinking to myself, every time I hit a milestone (but mostly after each of my flaming love interests exploded into black holes of nothingness), “Ah, I’ve got it figured out NOW, and I’m not going to make THAT mistake again. I’m finally wise.” Nonetheless, every time my hormones kicked in, I wallowed in their glory and glommed on to some poor unsuspecting guy. If only I’d read the fine article in this month’s Psychology Today about people who are in love with being in love! (Not online yet, pooh!)
At least I figured out that my hormones were not necessarily my friends, and managed to stick with the NEXT one until he left me many years later. I thought I had figured all that love, hormones, relationships, friendships, and people skills stuff out. I was so wise by the time I hit 30.
Guess what? I wasn’t! Life kept whacking me on top of the head, showing me where I was way off base, and sending me off to learn more. Repeatedly. I learned things like don’t go looking for the exact opposite of your ex as your next relationship. Though, I must say that those two really ARE exact opposites physically and mentally! Yes, sure, don’t repeat the same mistakes and expect different outcomes, as some of my friends are painfully figuring out right now), but don’t over-correct. I also learned that you can remain friends with people you used to be hormonally attracted to and that that can be better than the hormone frenzy.
Then in the next decade or so, I thought I’d figured life out, that giving love to kids was a much better plan. Of course they will love you if you do your best to nurture them, listen to them, be there for them, and let them fly when they need to fly. Nope, that’s not guaranteed either. You might want to check and see if the person you’re mentoring is a sociopath or suffers from borderline tendencies that they aren’t willing to or interested in working on. And again, don’t befriend the same type of person repeatedly and expect different results. I do think I’ve got that down now, and I added on to it not to link your emotional well being to that of someone else, blame yourself for their issues, etc. Hmm, I did apparently learn something…just not everything.
Yeah, so, by the time I got to the age I am now, it became really clear that all those times I thought I had my emotional life all figured out, I hadn’t. I can laugh at it now, even if reading the old journals, just brimming with confidence that I’d got it all figured out, is painful.
Now I have a stable marriage and some stability in other areas, but I no longer have any inclination that I understand how other people (or animals, as I’m learning with horses and dogs) feel, how I feel, or how relationships work. It’s trial and error, with some help from past experiences, at best. At least for me. I no longer think I have awesome understanding of the world, its inhabitants, and how everything works. Instead, I’m in awe of how there’s no way to understand it and am enjoying my daily discoveries.
My message to anyone who reads this is to realize right now that you aren’t finished figuring things out, you will continue to make mistakes, but you can also continue to learn from them and face every day with new wisdom. Who cares if you didn’t know what you thought you knew way back when? Maturity is the ability to be just fine with that.