Hey, kids. If there’s one piece of advice that I am qualified to share as I count the days before I turn 33, it is this: Don’t chase after love.
I get it, we live in a society where sharing feelings online is a thing, and sometimes being lonely is the feeling that you feel. Sometimes, it’s wanting someone you can’t have (or, which is sometimes worse, can have). Sometimes, it’s a vague nagging fear that you’ll be alone for the rest of your life, or at least until the UP Fighting Maroons win a basketball championship, which might be much the same thing.
Ang UP nga 2 taon naghintay bago nanalo ulit, kaya ikaw ‘wag kang mainip na hindi ka pa nananalo sa larangan ng pag-ibig. Hihi. #Hugot
One Twitter user said when UP actually won a game earlier this month, and that wasn’t the only love-related tweet marking the unlikely UP win and the apparently equally slim chances of finding love.
A post on a travel blog on Places in the Philippines na Parang Pag-ibig, with lines like “Echo Valley, where coffins are left hanging. Parang pag-ibig” has been shared at least 34,000 times on Facebook by people consumed by — ahehe — wanderlust, and by people who have mastered the art of the subtweet and have moved on to the sub-link-with-clever-captions-that-mirror-my-feelings.
And then, there are things like this:
But love isn’t like that. It’s hard too, but that’s not all it is. It’s also great, but it’s not some mysterious thing that you need to figure out before you can get or some thing that you have go after.
Growing up, being in love was my thing. I was always lovesick and pining for someone or trying to keep a relationship together. I suppose part of it was hormones, but it was also my way of covering up other areas in my life that were deficient (like grades, say, or a descent into alcoholism. That sort of thing).
Part of it was hating the idea of “what ifs” and also an inability to think in the long-term. Maybe this girl is the one. Maybe we can run away together to some small province and live the life of hippies. Maybe I can braid her hair on some beach. Maybe we can have sex.
The thing about chasing love, though, is that sometimes you’ll get it. And then what? Sometimes, it’s great. Sometimes, it gets scary and ugly and you’re left damaged for a couple of years. There were times in past relationships when I felt even more alone than when I was actually alone.
But, always, the sheen fades and you realize that you’re with someone who might like different things, might have other goals, might have different ideas about love and how to treat people.
It’s a commitment and it’s great to have someone to face the world with but it’s also a burden sometimes, considering how the other person feels, suppressing baser instincts out of some flawed human ideal. It’s goddamned exhausting sometimes and it takes a lot of strength to really love and put the other first even if that means being taken for granted or being hurt.
It’s near impossible unless you love yourself first, and that’s something that I’m still trying to get the hang of. I’m 32 and am engaged to be married and am saving up for that future.
I still pine, of course, and still feel lonely sometimes. The difference now is that I know that no other person can fix my life except myself, that my issues are my own, and that no love, no matter how intense, can make me happy if I am fundamentally sad.
That’s love, at the end of it, handling your shit so you actually have a life to share with someone.