It’s crazy how things can change in just a year. It’s so little time, and yet, so much time.
Around November last year, I made a series of posts about what I’d learnt before I was 20. It was a logical list, and I considered it well thought out. At the time, I had every intention of following everything I’d written. I’d written about four distinct life areas that were most important to me. Friendships, gossiping (or my attempts to stop), relationships, and looking before leaping.
In the time that has passed between the publication of those posts and the writing of this one, I have lost some friends, gained back old ones, strengthened existing bonds, gained new friends, lost new friends… *laughs*
I have made multiple attempts to stop gossiping, but after a very successful eight months, I have found myself slipping into old habits.
In terms of looking before I leap, I’ve looked, seen dangers, but I’ve leapt anyway. I’ve learnt the consequences of that the hard way.
And with relationships, well, last year I learnt what to do in a serious relationship. This year, I learnt how to deal with the end of one.
So, for the sake of updating, I wanted to share four things I’ve learnt before 21. Summarised, of course.
1. Looking before you leap.
When I was younger, the lack of life experience meant I didn’t understand the concept of long term vision, and I made a lot of rookie mistakes that landed me in trouble. At 20, I know better, yet I still appear to struggle with impulse control. *laughs*
I’m the type of person who’ll eat a whole packet of Oreos whilst knowing full well it’s gonna give me a stomachache for the rest of the day. Though small decisions like this only give me short term pains to deal with, I’ve also made some decisions that have had higher stakes, and have had to deal with the negative consequences.
I’ve learnt that I need to stop making a decision to do something even after knowing that the cons outweigh the pros. It took many of these mistakes this year for me to finally say, “okay dude, enough, stop doing this to yourself.” It shouldn’t really have taken this much time, and it’s something I hope to work on next year.
(This is easier said than done. I mean, just look at how many procrastinators are out there eh?)
I’ve repaired some broken friendships this year, and strengthened existing ones, so this aspect is looking very positive. However, I have lost a few friends and acquaintances, some out of unavoidable circumstances, others as a result of the breaking of other people’s relationships (and of course, some as a result of the breaking of mine).
What I’ve learnt here, is that, with enough effort on both sides, friendships can be repaired. And some friendships will fizzle away anyway, no matter what. And that sometimes, some potential friendships just won’t work out because you (and perhaps, the other person) made the wrong choices. And if you invest well enough, you’ll gain decent returns on your friendships, enough so that you don’t fall and crack your skull on the concrete when something terrible happens, because they’ll all be there to catch you.
I TRIED REALLY HARD OKAY?!?!?!
It was steady progress at first. I found myself limiting it around certain people and avoiding it completely around others. But it was easy to fall back into it around close friends. And I noticed that whenever I was feeling particularly low, I’d go right ahead without caring.
But I also learnt that it takes time and perseverance. I don’t bitch nearly as much as I used to before, and I do find myself consciously trying to stop myself more often. Major progress. I know what to watch out for, and when I should keep my ears closed and my mouth shut, because some moods make me more vulnerable to going back to the habit than others.
And I’ll keep trying, that’s for sure. Because that’s what’s important isn’t it? Constant effort?
This was a lesson I was hoping I didn’t have to learn, but here it is anyway.
Sometimes, circumstances get in the way. Sometimes, circumstances cause two people to stop clicking and drift apart. No matter how good things were once. And sometimes, circumstances can cause people to change. To buckle under pressure and stop trying. To stop being able to hold on.
Sometimes circumstances don’t really cause people to ‘change’, but rather, cause people to realise that something long term may not have been possible due to major incompatibility points.
The end of a relationship is rarely the fault of a single person. In most circumstances, it is the fault of two people. Who did what first eventually stops mattering, because in the end, it’s over, and there’s nothing that can be done.
Things did get complicated, as they are bound to when things go sour, but I was very lucky to be able to be with someone who took good care of me for a long time, and gave me the safety of a serious commitment. I learnt a great deal, and also found that I still have a long way to go.
It’s hard to avoid causing the other person pain, especially after an ending. Bitterness and anger are unfortunate side effects of such an event. And sometimes, you make the mistake of letting your emotions get away from you.
Understanding that you can’t always make amends is important. Sometimes the best way to make amends is to simply leave each other alone and move on.