The Unknown.

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I seem to be growing up in a generation that doesn’t know how to appreciate what is in front of them, but also in a generation that is based off of anxieties and fears of the unknown, or the future some may call it.

Whether it’s in our academic achievement, career possibilities, or even the relationships we have, we as a collective are surrounded by the fear of the unknown. Always thinking about whether this is it or what is the next step or what else is there. We never take a moment to appreciate what we already have right in front of us or even just focus and enjoy the moment.

Let’s use the example of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s. Realistically aside from a few small differences here and there, there was no major changes especially on the outside between the two phones. Yet people went ballistic over upgrading or trading in their current phone because they introduced a new “colour” and that somehow justified throwing away $1900+ to buy it. As with anything new in our lives we are filled with excitement the first few days, maybe even weeks, but eventually that “happiness” fades and we once again take for granted what we have in front of us until the newest model comes out the following year and trade in again and totally forget about the feelings we had for our previous phone. If you were to ask someone how they felt about their iPhone a few months in i’m sure they would be happy with it, but i’m sure the same answer would have appeared had you have asked them when they had used the older model. Happiness is relative to what you choose to have and acknowledge.Yet for some reason when you take the new model coming out and you’re sitting with your old one, we as a young generation can’t help but wonder what else is out there or how does it feel to use the new model.  We constantly have this drive to feed more into the need, but why? Whereas many who are older tend to follow through with the old, until it is in dire need of replacing. Why the shift in trends?

It’s no wonder divorces are on the rise in many regions of the world. People don’t fight for anything. Oh the flame has gone away, time to find someone else, instead of working to fix what is there. No relationship is easy. People are just not patient enough to make things work.

But it plays the same into things that we buy and use, as well as our drive to constantly feel the need to “have more and do more”. We don’t take the chance to breathe making us anxious for what lies ahead. To be honest, I used to be like that. Those thoughts of “what is next, where am I going, what am I doing with my life, what lies ahead 20 years”, but i’ve learned life is unpredictable. Why are we living for the anxiety of the future when we should live for today and look to tomorrow. Why are we in such a rush to know what lies ahead? Who we should be with? Be happy with what you have in the now. Be happy and grateful to have what make you laugh, smile, supported, and feel loved.

We get so caught up in living how we think we should live, not how WE want to live. Worrying about things that will likely work itself out in time, just like how you’ve been navigating life so far. There’s no need to worry about making 20 year commitments whether its a career or relationship, focus on what you have and move forward at a slow pace. Breathe. Live for the moment. Be happy with what or who you have and push through life.

What about the example of making a good soup. You can’t make a good soup unless you have the good ingredients. Each ingredient enhances the others, and it needs time to simmer to reach full flavour. As Harriet Van Horne puts it “Cooking is like love. It should be entered with abandon or not at all”.

People are so caught up in the theory of the “grass being greener on the other side”, but i’ve learned over time that really the grass is greener where you choose to water it. A meaningful life is not being rich, popular, being highly educated, or even perfect. I’ve learned that a meaningful life is about being real, being vulnerable, being humble and having the ability to share not only ourselves but to share with those around us. It’s only through these actions that we can live a truly meaningful, content, and happy life.

W need to stop thinking in terms of ‘The One’. That is a Disney fantasy, and highly improbable. You see, humans are fallible, and as time goes on your partner will piss you off. There are numerous people that any one individual can build a good relationship with. Magical thinking is not helpful here. You need a good foundation to build upon, not the fairy dust of emotion

Hence, love is never enough to base a relationship upon. You need so much more besides a “spark”. You need respect, trust, compatibility, shared goals, a willingness to commit, a financial plan, refusal to quit, fitting in with each other’s family and friends, ability to resolve conflict, etc..

I think another problem that many young people face these days is fear of commitment. Fear of commitment is a real thing. Every time we commit, we are simultaneously rejecting all other possible alternatives; there are always opportunity costs associated whenever we make a decision.

Most decisions don’t worry us too much as we feel that we can reverse them if necessary. When it comes to love, however, most of us believe that it is or, at the very least ought to be, forever.

Making a decision that you believe you need to stick to for the rest of your life is scary. What if you make the wrong decision? What if you’re going to miss out on something better? These will always be possibilities — you can’t wrestle with them because these questions will never go away.

Instead we should focus on all the positive things that having a special someone in your life allows for. No one is ever truly “stuck” but if you’re happy with someone why are you thinking so far ahead and giving yourself anxiety?

My thoughts primarily come from this TED talk called ‘The Power of Vulnerability’ and man i’m usually oblivious to the meaning behind songs/movies/etc, but this talk literally opened my eyes to how human connection is formed. I know it’s a bit long at 20 minutes, but I seriously encourage anyone who has time to watch it. I have posted the link at the end of my post.

Some of my favourite snippets from the talk are:

 I had a research professor who said to us, “Here’s the thing, if you cannot measure it, it does not exist.”

I want to hack into these things that I know are important and lay the code out for everyone to see. So where I started was with connection. Because, you realize is that connection is why we’re here. It’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. The ability to feel connected, is —neurobiologically that’s how we’re wired — it’s why we’re here.

When you ask people about love, they tell you about heartbreak. When you ask people about belonging, they’ll tell you their most excruciating experiences of being excluded. And when you ask people about connection, the stories they told me were about disconnection.

I ran into this unnamed thing that absolutely unraveled connection in a way that I didn’t understand or had never seen. It turned out to be shame. Shame is really easily understood as the fear of disconnection: Is there something about me that, if other people know it or see it, that I won’t be worthy of connection?

The things I can tell you about it: It’s universal; we all have it. The only people who don’t experience shame have no capacity for human empathy or connection. No one wants to talk about it, and the less you talk about it, the more you have it. What underpinned this shame, this “I’m not good enough,” —which, we all know that feeling: “I’m not blank enough. I’m not thin enough, rich enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, promoted enough.” The thing that underpinned this was excruciating vulnerability. This idea of, in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen.

There was only one variable that separated the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who really struggle for it. And that was, the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging. That’s it. They believe they’re worthy. And to me, the hard part of the one thing that keeps us out of connection is our fear that we’re not worthy of connection.

What they had in common was a sense of courage. Courage, the original definition of courage, when it first came into the English language — it’s from the Latin word “cor,” meaning “heart” — and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. These folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect. They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others,because, as it turns out, we can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly. And the last was they had connection, and — this was the hard part — as a result of authenticity,they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were, which you have to absolutely do that for connection.

The other thing that they had in common was this: They fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They didn’t talk about vulnerability being comfortable,nor did they really talk about it being excruciating. They just talked about it being necessary. They talked about the willingness to say, “I love you” first … the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees. They’re willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out. They thought this was fundamental.

We numb vulnerability. It was funny, I sent something out on Twitter and on Facebook that says,How would you define vulnerability? What makes you feel vulnerable?” Because I wanted to know what’s out there. Having to ask my husband for help because I’m sick, and we’re newly married; initiating sex with my husband; initiating sex with my wife; being turned down; asking someone out; waiting for the doctor to call back; getting laid off; laying off people. This is the world we live in. We live in a vulnerable world. And one of the ways we deal with it is we numb vulnerability.

You can’t say, here’s the bad stuff. Here’s vulnerability, here’s grief, here’s shame, here’s fear, here’s disappointment. I don’t want to feel these. I’m going to have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin.You can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects, our emotions. You cannot selectively numb. So when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then, we are miserable, and we are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable, so then we have a couple of beers. And it becomes this dangerous cycle.

I’ll leave you with this. This is what I have found: To let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen … to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee — and that’s really hard to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we’re wondering, “Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this?” just to be able to stop and, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say, “I’m just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive. And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we’re enough. Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, “I’m enough” … then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.