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Why I hope you've been heartbroken
Have you felt the beautiful pain of heartbreak?
Most people my age and younger would answer with a triumphant, "No!"
And that's what I fear.
I fear the youth of today are so scared of any type of heartbreak that their hearts break a little every day. They don't strive in their career, in their relationships, in their personal life because what if … what if their hearts are broken?
They'll continue this way avoiding heartbreak until one day they get fired, in the middle of a divorce, half of their assets gone with a stroke of a pen.
But worst of all, they will realize that they have never truly lived.
The only way to prevent this is for me to warn you now. So let me get out my cane, put my dentures in and tell you what's wrong with the youth of today. Let me sing you the sweet song of heartbreak.
Is It Better To Have Loved And Lost Than To Never Have Loved At All?
Ask me 10 or even 5 years ago and I would have said it's better to have never loved at all. My emotions were so tempestuous, the sadness, anger, and fear, so strong that I thought they would bulldoze me. I felt as if I had no freewill. Like I was just a carrier of emotions.
So I turned them all off. I tried to not to feel any my emotions.
But in turning off the "bad" emotions, I turned off the good ones too.
I was trying to be even keeled, but instead ended up feeling bored, listless, and apathetic. I was living in an emotional flatline.
The only way I would engage my emotional highs and lows were through movies. And over time I noticed that the characters I admired the most were deeply emotional. They were emotional and yet somehow still rational, disciplined, and courageous.
I noticed that the people I was most attracted to were both lovers and fighters. That's when I knew I had to change. I had to stop fearing and start loving meaningful heartbreak.
Now I say give me meaningful heartbreak. Give me the most painful heartbreak. Because there is something sweet in that too. That means for however short, I dared to love.
But as my appetite for heartbreak has grown, the world's has gone down.
The modern world has (for good reasons) decreased the collective pain we all felt in society. Science and technology has improved our lifespan and our health span.
But now, it seems to be overcorrecting. We shouldn't decrease ALL pain, only the RIGHT one. We shouldn't create dopamine machines that capitalize on momentary feelings of pain or boredom. Instead of feeling difficult emotions we are all addicted to notifications and mindless scrolling.
Since we immediately turn to comfort when we feel a difficult emotion, we've forgotten how to process them.
Instead of making choices, the kids of today (including me) avoid real risks. They don't realize that not making a choice IS a choice.
We must examine our options and pick knowing that there is a good chance we'll make the "wrong" choice. A wrong choice is better that infinitely delaying any real decisions.
You must ask yourself: What is the meaningful heartbreak I've been avoiding?
Risk in the Modern World
The people we laud as risk takers in our society are not risk takers anymore. Founders just change the color of their messaging apps and use big VC money and marketing to sell it to us as different. Writers (like me) write another inane article that doesn't move the needle about how social media is bad.
Part of this is that nothing is new under the sun, but in the past creators remixed to create something new. Creators remixed to create something only they could have made. Now, they remix to find "value." Basically they remix just enough so they are putting as little work in to get as much money (or fans) as they can.
And it's not entirely their fault. Our appetite as audiences doesn't allow for risk. We are afraid of reading something original. Because trying something new means it might be bad. We don't watch original tv shows and watch The Office for the 100th time. We are afraid of heartbreak.
What really hurts is that our expectations aren't met. That the world isn't how we really envisioned it. Even in heartbreak that's so small.
We forget that our lives aren't meant to be productive all the time. We forget that waste and heartbreak are often the point. How can we dare to be great if we can't risk being terrible?
What Should I Do?
I've talked before about solutions to the emotional flatline you may find yourself in. I've talked about how you need to love your inner devil.
But perhaps it's better realizing that any choice we make in life is a fraught one.
“There is no perfection only life” - Milan Kundera
And remember not making choice is a choice.
If you decide to become alive and truly start playing this game of life it's going to be difficult. Your life will be full of pain, disappointment, and heartbreak.
But it will also full of the pleasures, great beauties, and meaning that you can never imagine.
This leads to an obvious question that Hunter S. Thompson puts beautifully:
“Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?”
The first of a series of choices begins now. Recognize that you (yes, you too, dear reader) are not pursuing what you want in life because of a deep, undefined fear of disappointment.
Are you going to seriously start playing the game of life? Or are you going to live in an emotional flatline for the rest of your life?
Don't answer those questions in your mind.
Answer those questions in how you live your life.
Here's to some more meaningful heartbreak,