Only you know the full scope of your journey. After all, despite however many come and go along the way, it is your journey. You are the only one who will completely see it from start to finish. People often only see you as you exist in the present moment. People only know what they see, and often times even what they see is diluted through the prisms of their own experiences, moods, and biases. When you consider this, it isn’t hard to realize why so few people can truly understand us, and ultimately, truly love us the way we want them to.
As selfish as it sounds, by the end, the thing I was most broken up about when it came to breaking up with my ex years ago, maybe the only thing, was feeling like she was the last one who would truly understand me, for who I am, what I came from, and what I’ve been through. Because she had been there, lived it, seen it. She hadn’t walked in my shoes, but she had walked close enough behind and at times side by side. She’d literally seen the transformation from boy to man. At the very least, teen to young adult. She’d been there at the starting line, not the finish line. I really valued the understanding that came with that. I knew that anyone after would be getting a diamond that had been crafted in those tumultuous years. After the struggles I had gone through, I remember thinking to myself in my late teens, ‘If I ever get out of this, if I live to tell about it, if I get to where I want to be, no one will ever believe the story.’ I wasn’t wrong, for the most part. It’s not that they literally don’t believe it, they know it to be true, they just can’t seem to fully comprehend, or accept it. That’s because it’s difficult for people to recognize growth, and personal achievement, especially when they still cling to imaginary concepts like “luck”, or see someone ‘ahead’ of them who has achieved, and tell themselves that person must have had some kind of unfair advantage that they didn’t to get to where they are, whether it’s their career, personal life, or state of mind. People live in the present, where they often can’t see past themselves, and can’t be bothered to question the motives behind things, or the story behind someone.
I feared I wouldn’t be able to replicate that understanding again. And that fear remained true for many months until I began talking to what would become my next girlfriend, and she made me feel as though she understood simply through listening for hours and hours every night, as I did with her. Because when you haven’t actually met someone, all you can do is listen, and take that persons words about themselves as fact. And that can be for better, and worse. I can certainly say the picture she painted of herself wasn’t exactly the full picture of the person I got to know. The same can probably be said for me, to some degree. That’s not because of lying. I think that’s because most, if not all of us, struggle to see ourselves for who we truly are. We over exaggerate some of our own minor flaws, are in denial about other real flaws, we don’t recognize our own beauty, yet easily dilute ourselves into an inflated idea of self-importance and public perception, if we get enough likes on social media. We try to paint ourselves in the best light, but sometimes we can’t even recognize what the best light is. It’s easy to fall in love with and be a sympathizer to someone who’s life your only seeing one side of, the one they want to present. As they say, the bad moments, the bad pictures, the low points, don’t go up on Facebook or Instagram. Often times its only your loved ones who get the ‘pleasure’ of living through those with you. It’s easy to fall in love with someone you only ever see in the best light. Ask the unfortunate people who ‘fall in love’ every other month with celebrities they don’t know. It’s also why initial attraction is so easy, or should be in theory. Many people get themselves into such an easy pattern of initial attraction, and then cutting that relationship off before it really develops, that eventually they become unable to truly accept another person when they decide it is time for a committed relationship. Before entering into a relationship, if you actually do allow enough time for someone to ‘advertise’ to you, your essentially being sold a product, and your satisfaction rate typically depends on how close the actual ‘product’ is to the one first advertised. We are all advertisers now, to varying degrees, whether we are conscious of it or not.
This misunderstanding can happen even with people who love us, where despite how well they know, they don’t always seem to understand. It may even seem as though sometimes they are committed to not understanding you. It’s strange, and frustrating. You’re talking directly to someone, you’re sharing the same experiences with them, but they still are not understanding. They aren’t seeing it your way. They are attaching something to your actions that wasn’t there. They’re not seeing why your struggling with something that isn’t at all affecting to them. Whatever the case. That is because they are seeing it through the prism of their own mind, attached to their own journey and biases, rather than through your eyes. Ever share an experience with someone and come to find you both took away two completely different things from it? This is why that happens, and it’s typical among people, and friends. It’s normal. But what’s supposed to separate a serious relationship from merely a friendship or acquaintance, having a connection or not having a connection, is that understanding.
While I do think coming to truly understand someone is a long term journey, I do think it is possible to actually come to a point of true understanding of someone. When you stop, remove every preconceived notion, and see them at their true essence. Although people usually describe seeing someone’s true self revealed in a negative, insulting way, when you see someone’s truest self, it is almost always beautiful, almost always the true best form of themselves. No matter how dimmed they’ve allowed it to become over the years, or how much we’ve dimmed it for them. When you judge someone who does something wrong as revealing their true colors, you probably aren’t seeing someone’s true self, you’re seeing their worst self, and judging them in that moment. Some deserve it, most don’t. Most of us are good, but conflicted, complicated, and frankly damaged people. We sometimes try to protect the ones we love from ourselves, but aren’t always successful. We are all persevering through something, trying to come to terms with something, and at least trying to undo some type of bad wiring we’ve learned from our past. It’s not always written on our faces, we may not wear a pin, and we may not have been designated a special commemorative month. But we are all survivors of life. It’s why so many people will say if you find someone who you consider ‘good’, if they care about you, if they treat you well, you’re a fool not to stick by them, even with their flaws. You’re seeing the flaws BECAUSE you’ve chosen to be up close and personal with that individual, and they’ve allowed themselves to open up to, and be seen in every light. Because the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. And even when it is, it isn’t flawless, either. It’s been stepped on too, it’s been run through the mud, and it has its own quirks. And you come to find that, the more you walk along and roll around in it. So you pick your poison, essentially. Pick the ‘flaws’ you can live with, and separate them from the ones that you can’t. Because if you can’t ultimately sympathize with the person you love when they struggle through life, and choose to judge, criticize, and make them feel bad about themselves, you don’t deserve someone who understands you.
Not everyone is mature enough, or emotionally prepared enough, for a relationship. And because there is no such thing as a “relationship license”, to separate one from the other, this will always be the case. Imagine a highway full of drivers who weren’t required to have a license. It would be a mess right? The expert drivers would be wiped off the road by the ones who aren’t mentally ready to be behind the wheel. Well, that is the world of relationships that we live in. “Good drivers” getting destroyed by “bad drivers” who shouldn’t be on the same road as them. Two “bad drivers” who don’t know what they want, or what to do, ruining each other. Everyone wants to be on the road. But it isn’t for everyone. Because a real relationship is seeing flaws, and accepting them. It’s a state of mind. It isn’t fantasy land. When you stop being single, and allow yourself to feel, to accept, and allow yourself to be accepted, you hand in your rose colored glasses, lessen your alcohol consumption, and you see things, and people, as they actually are. Imperfect and chaotic. Real and beautiful.
It’s a gift, and a rewarding gift, to be able to see things through someone else’s eyes, and take them into account. It’s easy to lose sight of this in a world pushing nothing but individualistic goals, and instant gratification. “What can I do for you?” has been replaced with “What have you done for me?” If someone shows you their true colors, don’t try and repaint them. There are only a select few people in this world who will ever open themselves up enough to allow us to do this with them, and it is not something we should ever waste.