“Do you believe in soulmates?” I asked, and my senses were assaulted with the sudden onslaught of loud, uncomfortable laughter, smirks, some remark about soulmates being a manufactured Hallmarks and Hollywood concept, another about it being something only teenage girls believe in.
Everyone had an opinion about it, as about everything else under the sun. I smiled and tried to listen without making any judgments or categorizing people into shelves labelled cynics or dreamers. I saw a few people look away pretending to find the answer at the bottom of their beer bottles, or perhaps there is some new chugging game out there which demands that you drain your bottles each time someone mentions something vaguely reminding you of the word “love.”
It’s an interesting question, and one I used to give a lot of thought to. Personally, it seems easier for me to admit that there is a special human being in the universe made to fit into the jagged ends of your personality and vice versa, than to explain to myself the existence of an Almighty.
Possibly, it may also be the last refuge of hope and explanation for the single people in the world who have tried in vain to pair up. I’m happy to report that the cynicism is mostly false and a default self preservation mechanism. Unfortunately, in this pool of people with vague hopes of still finding that one enduring connection, often a few sharks find their way in. But I’m sure they have a reason too, or maybe a shark is just a fish that hasn’t yet found the courage to be vulnerable.
This post is not about either of them. For far too long, I have sought comfort in generalisations and written about them in embarrassing detail. But it isn’t something I regret, I was observing and evolving, just as I am today. I read about, met and heard of other women and men who fell into unhealthy patterns or ran into bad luck or deceptively wonderful people, and I often found myself reflected in the words and problems of another. Somewhere along the way, I forgot that they may have had similar experiences, but they are not me.
As the years sped by, societal pressure evolved too. It was no more parents and relatives who made me feel that there was something missing in my life. (I lucked out there.) It was the most unassuming acquaintances on social networks who held no importance in my life, but made me feel their choices led to a happier place than mine.
Non conformity is not always a choice, they made me realise. But it is more than often uncomfortable.
Was I jealous of pictures of weddings and babies and happy couples? No. I had made a very conscious, very informed choice to want a different life for myself. Was I happy with that choice? On 7 out of 10 days, yes. On the other 3, there was probably trouble at work, or my hormones were protesting, or I was battling Internet trolls, or my favourite Game of Thrones character was murdered.
Happiness and sadness weren’t enemies, they both visited in turns. Indifference was the enemy. That state when I built high walls to protect myself from the dangers outside became a cage where I couldn’t protect myself from the turmoil within.
So what if somebody broke my heart? It wasn’t the first time, why did I make it the last? So what if I made too many bad decisions? I still have so much more to screw up. Why was I comparing my life to those of others, when my choices were different and my own?
There were men I dated who disappeared without a word, and there was a man I loved who was never really here. I allowed myself to be vulnerable to the ones who couldn’t give more of themselves for reasons they could hardly justify to themselves. That was the only mistake I ever made. And one I must make over and over again.
Because while I was breaking some conventions, there was one I forgot to bear in mind. There is no age for love. And soulmates? You’ll meet them when you find the strength to bare your soul.
Let’s work on that first.