Have you ever received a gift that made you wince, no matter how hard you tried to like it? She bought me a thick, lovely, little book on the “Great Masters of American Art.” But every time I look at it, I can’t help but be reminded of a relationship that really tortured my first year of college. Cue the dramatic organ.
It started off great. I remember when we snuck back to my dorm room during the summer, and just spent hours discussing art movements, while hidden underneath the covers of my extra-long, twin-sized bed. My ego was excited to find someone that would listen to me yammer on with the overly ornate words of a wannabe intellectual. I liked her a lot, and we were a couple before the end of that month. Unfortunately, the relationship only lasted until the end of the next month.
While I can definitely list the great things about our time together, what plagues my memory the most are the subtle hints of incompatibility that seeped through the cracks of the nice façade I put forth. I’m guilty of saying other names during intimate moments—twice. And for every nice, and thoughtful art book she gave me, I would threw another gift back in her face because I felt that she was “trying to change me.” One time she bought for me a nice, long-sleeve shirt that I avoided wearing until a few weeks after we broke up. The excuses were lame and the behavior was petty, but I had my reasons.
They can be distilled to a few basic fears: the fear of losing my individuality to a relationship, and the fear of commitment. In retrospect, it’s all very silly, but it goes to show how much of a learning process and transition it was for me to change my mentality once I entered the university. I had to learn to leave my hang-ups at home, and if I had any, I had to accept them and be honest about them. If I were to sum up the college learning experience, it would be neatly packed into the phrase: “drop the bullshit.”
The more we hold back what we really feel, or the more we cower from what we really fear, the more we lash out at undeserving targets. I really liked that girl, but our inconsistencies and incompatibilities were there, and unfortunately, I just went about them the wrong way. It’s a perfectly human thing to be afraid, and now’s a good a time as any to forgive myself and take the lesson in stride.
Though, did I mention how gorgeous the art book is?
I just found this lovely picture in it.