The idea of a person searching for their soul mate is a relatively new idea. Sixty years ago, people married because it was the social norm. When looking for a partner, people often approached it from a social and economic perspective. Will this person be able to give me children to work my farm? Will they be able to be the breadwinner and support a family?
People didn’t necessarily need to fall madly in love and have a laundry list of things they needed checked off in order to find a suitable partner. Many people started off with a partner they felt lukewarm about and worked hard to cultivate love in their marriage. It wasn’t totally shocking to see a couple married for 30-40 years like it is today.
Now everyone wants a storybook romance that would sell out every movie theater in the country. We have impossibly high standards that few of us could ever live up to. We don’t necessarily want to be perfect ourselves, but we certainly want the people we date to be.
I’m part of this problem. I’m one of the assholes out their in the world straight fucking up how people view relationships for generations to come. The thought of settling for anything less than perfect person seems intolerable.
Thinking about the concept of finding a soul mate and the “perfect person” made me curious. Did people always look for this deep-level of fulfillment, meaning and purpose in other aspects of their lives? What about in their careers? Is the idea of “do what you love and you will find your purpose in life” a new thing?
Where did all this searching for purpose in life come from? Is it something brought about by motivational speakers and bad movies? Do we search for deeper meaning because it’s what society tells us has value? Or is it something that transcends time and is worth spending our life trying to figure out?
We’re flooded with ideas of how life it supposed to be and when we compare that to our reality, we become dissatisfied and feel less than. We have access to so much knowledge, and even more so, the opinion of others who we think know what the fuck they’re talking about, that we get confused and aren’t sure how to process it all.
We’ve become lost in emotions and fluffy bullshit, so we create stories to make life match up with our fantasies. We want the fairy tale and the Ferrari to match. We don’t want to work 60 hours a week, make 50 grand a year and take our kids to eat at fucking Applebee’s.
We follow asshole celebrities on Instagram and Snapchat who live lavish lives and wonder why we feel shitty about our existence. Our phone alerts us every time someone likes our picture or feels the need to text us a gif of a goat doing something adorable. We’re overloaded with stimuli all vying for our attention. We continually have to make decisions about how we should spend our time because we have too many choices.
Whether we want to believe it or not, too many choices and too much information is a problem and a source of unhappiness. It’s what researchers call “choice overload.” We may think having lots of choices is a good thing, but research shows it’s exhausting mentally, can lead to buyer’s remorse or even worse, it can keep you from making a decision at all.
It’s like when you go to the ice cream stand at the shore with 150 flavors. You scour the board to find the perfect new flavor and for some reason you decide to order the wasabi ice cream You might be pleasantly surprised when you find out wasabi flavor is your new favorite, but most likely you’re going to walk away saying “why didn’t I just buy the fucking chocolate.”
I’m not saying you shouldn’t try new things. What I am saying is you don’t always have to make it so complicated. Certain things work for you and you know it. While other things are long shots that rarely pay out large dividends.
We all want to be the one in a million story that defies the odds and triumphs in magnificent fashion as the long shot. It’s a great story everyone loves to tell. Except in real life you usually end up looking like Reginald Denny taking a brick to the face (And not in a good way for all you Stitches fans out there).
I would never tell anyone they shouldn’t chase their dreams and shoot for the stars. Unless you wanted to do something really fucking stupid like be pool boy at Kevin Spacey’s house.
The best advice I could ever give someone is to stop listening to everyone’s advice. Especially mine, because I have no fucking idea what you’re supposed to be doing with your life, I can barely tie my shoes in the morning.
Go out and give life all you have and don’t take no for an answer, but be prepared to be let down. Realize that fantasy is rarely congruent with reality. Even if you achieve your goals, you may find out they weren’t very fulfilling, but be willing to take that chance.
There’s a huge world out there, put down your phones and enjoy it sometime, you might surprise yourself. Take a lesson from your grandparents by working hard, bitching less and experiencing more.