I watched Titanic the other night for the first time in years (don’t judge) and it spurred some thinking about the ever-popular damsel in distress love theme. Of all the ridiculous lies perpetuated by mythological Hollywood storylines the idea that a person can find their true selves in their soul mate seems counterintuitive to me. Even though Jack acknowledged that Rose could really only save herself, the entire plot suggests otherwise. The inexplicably popular Twilight doesn’t even pretend to suggest that young Bella is capable of being anyone without the help of at least one of the two dashing, and might I add, violent, men in her life. (That one you can judge, but I watched it with Rifftrax, hilarious.)
I do believe that a good relationship will bring out the best of who you are, but if you don’t know who you are to begin with, how can the best be brought out? For a long time I was the girl who always had a boyfriend. I was almost that girl who always had a boyfriend and then got married. The one who never truly got the opportunity to figure out things about herself that could only be discovered on her own.
In some cases this works out for people. Maybe they have a deep understanding of themselves at a young age, maybe they have the wherewithal to not let another person, no matter how close, keep them from becoming the person they want to be, or maybe they simply have no depth at all. All I really know is what did not work for me. It wasn’t until I was single that I started to come into my own.
Granted the period of time when I’ve been single has happened to coincide with the time when most people come into adulthood regardless of relationship status, but I know that I would not be where I am in terms of appreciating who I am as an individual if I had stayed on the perpetual relationship path.
It was too easy to throw my energy in learning about the other person: who he was, what he wanted out of life, where he was headed and not even bother to pose the very same questions about myself. In the past few years, I haven’t been overly preoccupied with serious relationships. I’ve been able to take the time to realize how much I love to travel, write and experience new things from strange food to experimental theater.
Regardless of how people complete their introspective journey, I think it has very little to do with all-consuming love. I imagine that those individuals who do figure out what they expect out of life while in a relationship don’t do so only because of the other person as absurd teenage romance movies would suggest. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe some people are so connected that their true identities are only recognized when they find each other?