I’ve done karaoke once in my life. I was approximately 8 years old at a neighborhood get-together with my family. One of the neighbor girls that was about 4 years older than me and basically my hero was also there, and she said that we should sing a song. She chose Complicated by Avril Lavigne.
I knew zero of the words.
I can still remember how red I got and how embarrassed I was as I stood in front of the TV cradling the microphone and wanting the song to end. Then afterwards, we chased the neighborhood boys through the desert and some kid got a stick shoved into his hand and somebody called me “dude” and I felt like such a bro.
Ten years later, though, I find myself asking the question, “Why do we go and make things so complicated?” While I think this question is pertinent to several aspects of life, I’m going to discuss one in particular because it fascinates me: romantic relationships.
Last night, I watched the movie Moonrise Kingdom after it was recommended to me as a movie that will make you sit back and think about life. Following the journey of two children, the movie takes you through their runaway trek and the simplicity of being twelve years old and in love.
They make it seem so easy.
I know times have changed, but when I was twelve, I didn’t worry if my best friend was sleeping with my ex or why my crush keeps liking other girls’ pictures on social media. But as we get older, more things get thrown into the equation, such as social media, college, work, and the unspoken pressure of living a heteronormative life with your significant other and children in the house you own with the job that makes money by the time you’re 30.
And while these things do pose obstacles, somewhere along the line, we chose to make those obstacles important dictators of our relationships with others. Somewhere we decided that getting an astronomical amount of likes on a staged bikini picture and analyzing each like to make sure the guy you’re texting liked your picture and not another girl’s picture is more important than being in the moment and being yourself with the people you’re around. Somewhere we decided that stalking the Snapchat map is more important than using a paper map or Google maps to plan an adventure. Somewhere we decided that conforming to these unspoken standards of how to be a perfect, likable, popular person was more important than creating real relationships and connections with others.
I’m so guilty of it too. I meet someone I’m interested in, and I’m all up on every social media site that I can find them on. At the risk of once again sounding like a stalker, one time my best friend and I were trying to figure out the best way for her to ask this guy out. We couldn’t find him on Facebook, so we checked Instagram. Couldn’t find him there, so (and this is where it gets real creepy) we resorted to trying to find him on LinkedIn. Like, who does that??
We live in a world of instant gratification. Hungry? Go through the drive-through. Bored? Turn on Netflix. Lonely? Download Tinder. Want to get to know somebody? Skip the process of face-to-face encounters, and find out all you can online. But I’m not having fun doing this, anymore.
Call me crazy or a dreamer or idealistic, but I want to be the person that doesn’t wear makeup because I’m not afraid of people seeing the authentic me. The person that talks to strangers in a coffee shop. The person that says, “I’d like to get to know you more,” then waits to do it face-to-face. I want to stop making love instant and complicated.
While all these thoughts were spurred by a fictitious story of two children, I have hope that it can be done in real life with adults. We don’t need to live one reality on social media and another reality to our bosses and another reality to our friends and another reality to those we care about. Let there be one reality, one where we care enough about others that we don’t dampen our relationships by being someone we’re not. One where things are a bit simpler and where love can start with a glance across the room and a cup of coffee instead of an insta-like and a DM.