Thursday, June 21, 2007

Misunderstood (Choose Your Own Adventure)

As all semi-adults in the city, I have problems understanding the world. You’re all well aware if you’ve come here to my musings before.*

But I think my biggest, for today at least, is the idea of the waves I send out without meaning to. And I think that it’s also not just me, but many of my girlfriends, too. I have acted as though I was needy when I was not without even noticing, I have given the impression I did not care when I certainly did or vice versa, and have thrown up a wall of unbending when really, I know deep down, I may be one of the most flexible people I know (and I’m not talking about yoga; I am barely mid-range if that).

In important events girls of a certain age seem to give off a collective vibe even though we don’t mean to. That we are completely understood in our intentions when we’re absolutely not.

I’m not exactly sure why. It’s a strange thing in this life where first you learn how you do react, then how you should react, and then finally how you radiate that reaction as to not confuse or anger those around you. Or make them think they have you figured out when they don’t. I had a deep discussion with some friends and found that the rest were feeling the same, we had all done this somehow, particularly with members of the opposite sex.

For example, a recurring tale of woe:

Once upon a time in a relationship, a girl was misunderstood. A mention of future plans mentioned as a means to look forward to (by her) put a freeze on the whole thing (for him). It suddenly shifted in one person’s understanding that the participants were who they were, and not alike, or perhaps too alike, and that the future was completely fixed. The idea held like cement that they were who they were, and always would be and their goals and their differences could never bridge. It fractured what was good and left the rest without understanding. One wanted to talk it out but didn’t have the words to express what one really meant, because one didn’t actually know what one meant. One wanted to run, because talking without knowing leads everyone nowhere.

And that was the end. Of them, anyway.

But the issue is that the real problem isn’t the supposed one. It’s actually one that could be completely fixed with a little enlightenment on both ends. It’s not that girls want to “settle down”. It’s what the definition of “settling down” actually means to both girls and guys.

Some people may be dying to get coupled by law, but honestly, most aren’t. And that’s perfectly great. The girls I know think to themselves, “We’d like to get married someday, perhaps after we publish our books, trek Tanzania, learn how to surf.” Does that mean the burning urge to marry is in all of us today or that it will be in the next few years? That our ultimate goal on this earth is to get a rock on a platinum band and then use it to cuff a guy’s genitals to a searing hot radiator for all eternity? No way.

I’m not sure where the problem started but I see it as an inherent difference between guys and girls of 24-30 and what they are communicating in this nebulous flux of growing up. And either being excited for growing or scared. How they are getting grossly misunderstood (for argument’s sake, I’m taking the girls stance, cause I definitely can’t purport to understand the male point of view right now).

I’ve seen an overwhelming dash away from the girls in my circles by the guys who are “not ready”. Because they assume the girls are. And both parties have completely different ideas of what we’re readying ourselves for.

And maybe we, as girls, are psycho, certainly we are in some respects, but we look pretty and we smell like green apples, so how about we get a break on this front? I understand things as this. Girls get super excited when they meet someone they can love, not because it holds them down for a lifetime, but because it feels great to have a teammate who’s got your back. And while it may or may not be a sure thing, it’s amazing to look across at someone and think, wow, when I go to Tanzania, this guy could be right next to me with an extra canteen of water. (AKA, Here’s someone to share my next adventure.)

I’ll make a sweeping generalization here, but recently, it has seemed to me and my friends, that while the girl is thinking this, the guy is thinking: wow, this chick is on my jock like white on rice, and now I can’t go to Tanzania at all. (AKA, Here’s someone who will prevent my next adventure.)

Why does it seem the case that when girls find one of “the ones” and they think: awesome! Guys do and think: oh shit! Is this really true or just completely anecdotal, and therefore completely false?

In my humble opinion, this misunderstanding of each other has destroyed and bent more relationships than any other obstacle (homeland security, aliens, and desperate housewives combined).

Of course it’s not just a guy-girl thing. It’s a growing up and apart thing. Motives change and in a coupling, they don’t change at the same speed. People either feel they owe it to another person to stick it through or they feel like they owe nothing at all and want to cut the cord. Rarely do both feel the same way at the same time.

And sometimes people tend to not hear potential, because potential is binding to being the bigger person and letting someone get up to your speed. It’s too understanding, it serves two instead of one (and let’s be honest, we’re all really just looking out for number one). So they jump on the fault lines because if they hear what they think they don’t want to hear, it will give them the easiest out. They can justify it, they can leave it be. They can move forward, knowingly misunderstanding someone, so that they themselves can say they tried.

So as we navigate all of this, I’m not passing judgment. I’ve done the wrong thing more than once, sent out the wrong signals, even thought I understood someone when all signs pointed to not. What I’d like to do, just for today, is come to a line in the sand of total confusion.

Which is when it comes to choosing your own adventure, we may not know what is the right path with the right person because we think they are something or lacking something they aren’t, but really, our problem is that we don’t understand ourselves half the time…

And now friends, with that, I think I have to go lie down. This has been more thinking than I'll do the rest of the year...

*If not, run away! What are you doing on this site? It’s just a 25-year-old loon ranting about random things; the blog version of flipping through the channels at 2:30 in the morning, hitting a sentimental Hallmark movie, a Ronco infomercial (“Set it and forget it!”), a thighmaster testimonial, and finally settling on a South Park re-run on the UCW.


PeeJ said...

Gahhd I love, love, LOVE your blog and the way you write.

This post just made me smile. As a bloke, traditionally I've always wondered whether both sexes panic at "the five year plan" or whether the balance is in favour of guys panicking more than girls. It's always been the case whenever a male friend of mine's broken up with a long term girlfriend, it was because "things were getting too serious" - What the HELL does that mean? How can you spend 2 years with someone and it not already be serious?

Similarly - I've got girl friends who have issues with commitment (or a lack of it) as being the be all and end all of any relationship they get into - even with someone they know is a dyed in the wool commitment-phobe.

The problem is, and particularly in the modern world, people are so ready to be pigeonholed or fit into an ideal that they forget how to be themselves. It's so bizarre.

My number one rule of relationships (says he, the abject failure at relationships) is "There are no rules".


Anonymous said...

Alot of people who don't understand what they are doing are doing so because they have ascribed all these things to what a commitment is. I've seen girls and guys run when something gets tough because they think its supposed to be all hunky-dory all the time and freak out when it isn't. It's the couples that realize that you have to weather all sorts of storms and practice that early that know how to survive, not just because their lives are easy.

People who run from the ebb and flow of what it really means to be in love and love someone will most likely never be able to be happy in their lives. Because there will be a time when you have to deal with children, money, dying parents and mid-life crisis. Who are these fools having a crisis of heart after 3 years when they've got young, nubile partners and no mortgages? They're running scared, that's what, and they might just have a character flaw forever, or if they fix it, realize that the person of their dreams has already moved on. And don't even get me started on the people who run off for falling out "of love".

"Love" but not "in love?" Please, "in Love" is merely infatuation. Loving someone is not an accident, it's a CHOICE we make. Those who were once "in love" and split because they now only "love" the person - this infuriates me. Maybe those catholics were on to something when they deemed divorce as sin. I am far from catholic and have many issues with the dogmas. But, they were on to something.

People need to step up to what loving means. It's gotten pretty easy to just cut and run as you say, but that doesn't make it right.

Anonymous said...

Just found this quote online and thought it was apropos for whatevers in the water for quarterlife crises these days:

"The truth of the matter is that you desperately want to be accepted and valued by others. Losing the support of people you are closest to would leave you floating through life completely on your own, with nobody you could count on but yourself. This might satisfy your need for control, but it would foster feelings of alienation and isolation. Some of you most intense emotional reactions and deepest fears are therefore lodged in your strong desire to be accepted by others. You will sometimes compromise your most sacred beliefs, back down from a dispute, or initiate a conflict with someone, all in the name of maintaining your stature in other people's eyes as well as your own self-image."


Sarah Jane said...

Girls, boys...silly birds, one and all. I agree with your takes, excepting the following:

I so would've settled for the Ronco, hoping inwardly that he was once again too cheap to spring for a re-shoot and any updates in pricing would be freeze-framed with a "WAIT, RON!" voiceover.

Not too certain how I found your blog, but I'm glad I did.