The silver lining behind the epic fail that you call your dating life
Well… I did it again. I managed to be single on the one holiday guaranteed to make half of the population in this country feel inadequate… St. Valentine’s day. This Valentine’s, I had a grand old time getting pissed Netflix when it asked me, “Are you still watching ‘The Office’?”
Yes Netflix, I am still watching ‘The Office.’ No, there is nobody sitting next to me. Yes, I’m not wearing pants.
I’m alone again on Valentine’s day… again. For me, like others I know, it’s been a long, arduous journey full of heartbreak, sorrow, and some really tough conversations. I’ve tried and failed with women so many times at this point that I don’t even care to count. My ego has been battered, tattered, shattered, and run over with an eighteen-wheeler.
It never seems to end. But there is a silver lining to it all.
Last year when I was travelling through South America alone I had a bit of a breakdown. One night, sitting alone in my apartment I was flipping through old Facebook photos for nostalgia’s sake. As I scrolled, it seemed that every photo and post I came across was of someone’s relationship and how effing great it was. I was drowning in photos of weddings, boyfriends, girlfriends, and I-love-you’s. It sucked. I don’t know if I was just homesick, naive, or just tired. But it seemed that I was the only one who didn’t have someone.
I swore that if I saw one more post about how lucky someone was to have someone else in their life I was certain I was going to projectile vomit so hard that I may just have achieved human flight.
When you’re alone, it can seem as though it’s you against the world. Everyone seems to have a better life than you. They are all moving at a breakneck pace towards success while you’re stuck in a dead-end job with a lease that is too expensive. They’re out there living some glamorous lifestyle while you sit there in your Broncos Snuggie, eat Ben & Jerry’s, chug adult beverages straight from the bottle, and watch [insert lame sitcom here] on rerun feeling sorry for yourself.
Everyone else is getting married. They are all having kids. They all have a giant house and a nice car. They all have more than you. They are all better than you.
But that’s not really how life is. Is it? There had to be something more.
The social “connection”
Humans are more connected today than ever before. At the press of a button I can bring up a live phone call with someone across the country and have a video feed of their ugly mug show up on my phone. I don’t care who you are, that’s forking amazing. I can’t imagine life without that kind of connectivity.
Just think, you can literally get shit-faced over video chat with your long lost buddy from Timbuktu nowadays.
All this connection is amazing. It’s great that I can speak with anyone I want, anywhere in the world, at any time.
But, all this connection has a catch. It’s become so easy to keep tabs on everyone, that we’ve began to lose touch with the only connection that really matters as human beings – the human connection. It’s easier to just check Facebook to see how your friends are doing than it is to call them and actually have a conversation.
Rather than knocking on our friends’ doors, we’re settling on looking through the kitchen window.
The problem becomes, people only tend to share things that make them look good. They share stories of travel, getting married, getting engaged, having kids, their new car, buying a house, moving to a new strange city, or having a new adventure. People meticulously craft and manicure their photos and posts.
Vanity is rewarded; voyeurism is easy; and the overwhelming positivity of it all can have an isolating effect on people. Especially so for those who feel like they are falling behind in life.
Nobody shares things that make them look bad. Pretty much no one is going to post about how alone they are feeling. Nobody is going to post that they are feeling lost. Nobody is going to post about how long it took them to put on pants after Valentine’s day. Not to mention, nobody wants to hear about it via Facebook.
The result is a news feed that can sometimes look more like a dick-measuring contest than anything else. It isn’t reality.
Life isn’t just a walk in the park day in and day out. We don’t just wake up every day and shit rainbows. We aren’t perfect. We are all flawed. It’s one of the most beautiful things about being Human. But that’s not something that makes the news feed.
Especially when you’re at a crossroads in your career, have lost a love, or just feel that you don’t know what you want to do with your life, seeing other’s successes from a distance is especially hard. It sucks to go on Facebook only to see your long-lost love getting married. It sucks to see how everyone else is buying houses, having kids, and living a perfect life.
The attention culture has made us vain. It has increasingly alienated those who haven’t quite found love and pushed everyone else to keep up with the Joneses.
But, for those of you who haven’t found love, aren’t buying a new house, and aren’t having kids quite yet, if you really look around you, you’re not alone. There are millions who feel the same way you do. We just don’t put it on the internet.
The silver lining of being alone on valentines day
If you’re like me, alone on another St. Valentine’s/My-life-is-better-than-yours-day, you should know that you’re exactly where you should be. Whether you’ve loved and lost, or you’re not even sure that you’ve ever loved at all, your pain is not without purpose.
Suffering and pain in your relationships is the same as training for an athletic endeavor. Athletes and anyone who has spent some time in a weight room can understand how much effort it takes to build any kind of muscle. The basic premise of muscle building or training is that while you work out, what you’re really doing is tearing and breaking your muscle tissue down. As you break the muscle down in your workouts day after day, the muscle regenerates stronger than it was before. Suffering is what generates results.
Suffering and pain are essential for growing stronger in body – The same is true with your relationships. Failure breeds success.
Achieving academic success isn’t something that is given to you. Going to school for a long period of time isn’t easy. It requires constant attention and conditioning to achieve success. It requires relying on the wisdom of others to ensure that you’re on the right path.
Persistence and the help of others is essential for growing stronger in mind – The same is true for your relationships. You’re not in this alone.
Eric Clapton wasn’t born a master musician. He spent years playing alone in his bedroom to an audience of 0. He played the wrong notes millions of times. He wrote songs that weren’t any good. But eventually those wrong notes began to get better. Eventually, they became beautiful music.
Playing the wrong notes and figuring out how it’s really done is essential for becoming a master musician – The same is true with your relationships. You need failure to succeed.
The pain that you experience in your search for happiness is only making you a better, more well-rounded person. Every failure is a building block for success. Every epic fail is a tear that will eventually make you stronger. Every let down is an opportunity to get back up.
Saying no to a toxic relationship, getting over your ex, or even failing at the dating game in epic fashion is another step towards knowing what it is that you really are searching for in a person.
Scars and broken bones heal to become stronger. Almost nobody nails it on the first try. You’re not alone on Valentine’s day. You’re just getting closer to where you need to be.