After exchanging a few emails on an early Monday morning with a good friend of mine, we chatted about our beliefs growing up and how society has changed. She was chatting about relationships and drama (as most females do). We started to talk deeper about the beliefs we've been taught, and I found myself wondering if they were the same beliefs that we actually put weight into.
During this conversation, we talked about the similarities of our mothers, and their beliefs that you can never have "too many clothes or too many degrees." Our mothers raised us to be independent and strong women, so that we never had to rely on anyone. They understood that times were changing, and if we wanted to survive in this new world that focused on less family and more career, we would have to have goals and dreams of our own. When it came to men, they taught us that you should find someone who met your match intellectually, humorously, and in faith.
For an early 20-year-old, that belief was a literal thought. I skipped two years of college and felt entitled in a way to meet a man of the same aggressive career moves and goals. I looked for the typical "finance boy" or those with or in process of achieving higher degrees, because they were on "my level." All of this thinking got me with a broken heart, tears over champagne, and waiting like an idiot for a Greyhound bus that would never come.
Through our life experiences, we have lessons. Like our strapping student debt, lessons don't come without some form of payment. In life, this payment comes in the form of a lot of emotional baggage. Everyone has it. For me, life lessons challenged me to think outside the box of traditional beliefs. Times were changing, and relationships (friendships or more) are not always black and white. In my literal traditional beliefs, I believed if they were motivated in their careers, they were good people. When I started dating a pre-med student, I instantly trusted him because of our common beliefs and good-natured conversations. I instantly trusted him and was enchanted to have found someone who was as motivated as I was. This trust ended with a life lesson that took the form of crying hysterically next to your roommate on the stoop of your brownstone apartment in New York City after learning that not only this "good-natured" boy cheated on you, but also gave you an STD.
Growing up, I was always the "good girl." I chose the right paths, wasn't afraid to say "no," and kept my goals in front of me. An STD was something I was raised to believe was dirty and something "bad girls" got. Receiving the news that I had not only contracted the STD HPV, but it evolved into cancerous cells, felt like a baseball bat to the head. Everything I believed and stood for were wrong. Every rule I followed had a loophole. Crying on that stoop as a 22-year-old I can now realize was a moment of tragic beauty. It was early spring and bright pink cherry blossoms blooming on the streets of the Upper East Side surrounded me. I remember the mascara-stained tears running freely, the smell of my roommate's sweet "Stella" perfume, and my numbness made everything go in slow motion. It was the moment I had lost my innocence to the world around me.
After a few painful surgeries and emotional fits throughout it, I understood that the material aspect of "degrees and money" were shallow pieces of the puzzle. What truly matters in a relationship has nothing to do with how many zeroes are at the end of their paycheck. I had been hung up on this warped belief for so long, that I imagine I had shut potential real relationship opportunities out.
Life lessons are a moment of fragmented or tragic beauty because you remove those rose colored glasses off your eyes. You look around and appreciate what you do have, instead of what you want to have. When you have these life experiences in your early twenties, you feel like your heart is going to explode. It's an earth shattering feeling, and you feel like you will die.
While sitting in a Long Island City restaurant with two of my favorite people at the end of October, we talked about our early 20s. When talking about life lessons, my wise friend John talked about learning the simple mantra "No matter what happens.. it's going to be okay."
You will fall in love.
You will have the occasional break up.
People you love will leave you or they will die.
You might lose your job or become disappointed that a life.
But no matter what happens, you will be okay.
Once you learn that, all the other suitcases of baggage will feel alot lighter and emotional heartbreaks become trivial.