*Kicking off the week with a guest post from a 20-something writer, Sarah.
Finding love isn’t easy these days.
I’m talking about real, lifelong love, not the kind of love you receive for a great selfie, which is exactly the problem of our generation. We are living during the age of social media, in the time of YOLO. If I was asked as a child what my life would look like by now, I imagine myself with sparkling eyes and blonde peach hair saying something along these lines. “I will be married to Brian like mommy and daddy and we’ll live in a big house with a cat named Buttons and a swimming pool full of dolphins!”
Pathetic, I know. Brian was my first love. My mom still tells the story of how I’d sit in the mirror as she brushed my hair and ask whether Brian would prefer braids or pigtails. I was, in the simplest terms, a hopeless romantic. And it’s ironic because now that I’m in my twenties, I’m the exact opposite.
I am not married to Brian; in fact, we lost touch by the time I hit first grade. And marriage appears to me now as a far away destination, a deserted island built for two, an eternal vacation that scares the living free-bird out of me. Sometimes I can accept, and even embrace, the single-life mentality. But other times… often times… I feel jaded and pretty damn nervous about it. I can’t help but wonder whether this emotional detachment is my own fault or the fault of the era I was born into: the YOLO Generation. Nowadays, we are bombarded every day by these far-from-subliminal messages.
Slogans like “Let’s Rage!” “No Regrets!” “You Only Live Once” convincing young people that now is not the time to settle down. Now is the time to live selfishly, to get drunk three nights a week, to travel the world and seek independence, to completely stray from the straight line that was once our grandparent’s path. The term YOLO is attached to many different facets of this generation, but the one that seems most prominent is the EDM (or electronic dance music) demographic. As I jump around with them in the crowd, neon colors plastered to our shirts and skin, a part of me feels alive.
We are living to the fullest. We are pouring ourselves into the music, making the most out of every moment, and meeting more people in one day than our grandparent’s met in their entire lives. But is it really fulfilling us? There’s this voice in the back of my head that thinks we’re all just confused, reaching out to touch one another, to feel something, anything and nothing, all at the same time. And that’s worrisome. What if we’re never fully satisfied with the simple things? Those beautiful, heart-felt moments which come from settling down, from falling in love with one person and dropping everything to start a life with them. When my grandfather died last year, he left his wife of sixty-five years. Sixty-five years! He was all my grandmother ever knew. And there’s something so special, so painfully intimate about that relationship. And yet I find myself getting annoyed when my grandmother asks me if I’ve met a nice man yet.
“That’s not my main priority!” I whine.
So, what is then? Is it traveling the world? Or writing something of substance? Or nailing my dream job? Or fighting my fears? These are all things I hope to accomplish, sure. But how much are they worth without someone to share them with?
And I don’t mean sharing them on Instagram and getting 32 likes from people you talk to once every couple years. I mean really sharing. Whispering in the middle of the night, waking one another up just to find out what’s on their mind. That’s a different kind of love, the kind that isn’t tainted by jealous curiosity. “Who is he texting? What’s he doing? Who’s Facebook is he looking at? Who’s picture is he liking?” What kind of thoughts are these that we’re forced to have? It’s sickening and tiresome and diverting a lot of us from healthy, long-term relationships. You only live once.
We hear it all the time and we think we know what it means. Don’t fuss. Don’t think. Just live. We often use the expression when we’re about to do something we would otherwise regret. It’s an excuse to behave brashly. It’s liberating not to care. It’s fun to be spontaneous, but is it realistic? And how long can we really do it until the consequences catch up to us? If we’re lucky, we will avoid the consequences forever. If we’re lucky, we won’t wake up one day and realize, despite our 400+ Facebook Friends and the dozens of casual relationships, we are more or less alone. Isn’t the fact that we only live once a good reason to take our lives more seriously? We need to devote ourselves to the things that truly matter. We need to remember the nights we tend to forget. We need to be more old-fashioned about love. We need to take our time with our hearts and our hands.Live once and live it well.
Live once and live it well.
Sarah Williams is a busy full-time dating advisor and lifestyle blogger. She believes that true happiness comes from taking care of your body and having great relationships. You can connect with Sarah on Wingman Magazine.