"Enjoy your youth"
The phrase has many connotations. It can refer to health, freedom of responsibility, or carefree outlook on life.
Our youth is something we grow out of, often intentionally as many of us could not wait to be mature adults. We all imagined it would relieve the teasing, differences, and problems we faced as teenagers. Things would be stable, we'd all magically respect each other and our seemingly huge issues would be solved.
The problem is, this doesn't happen, in fact, it could be argued going into "adulthood" is the opposite way we should go, particularly when it comes to our affection and feelings for others.
Adulthood is often when we start to compress our emotions internally, carry baggage from or previous relationships, become manipulative and emotionally paralyzed. We should strive to revert to childhood where we do not apply lenses and filters to our feelings, expressions and outlook.
In class today, one of my favourite students, the one who always kisses me on the hand, was sitting in her chair and she leaned forward and told me, in English, "I love you",I was a little taken aback. I knew she was affectionate for me (the cuddles, grabbing my leg, holding my hand etc.) many students are like this with me. I think many see me as an older brother who they can be a little playful/rough with. And to be honest, the kids in my classes are, for the most part, pretty good kids so I'm definitely protective of them.
What this girl said had me thinking; for a 4 year old to have very limited English, have such feelings, understand understand those words correctly, then to find out how to say those words and to say them is no small feat. Hell! Many people my age still have issues in doing so.
In some regard, this phenomenon of focusing on the importance of childhood openness, the transition from puberty to adulthood, is like the transition of childhood to some "elevated state" whereby we trade imagination, freedom and childhood happiness to some information and a supposéd "individuality".
By no means am I here writing that the species should never develop, crap in diapers from birth to death (though we do take a break in the middle), and be ignorant (yet many remain so in adulthood). There are benefits to adulthood which are admirable, I also think we ought to be more aware of what we lose as we "mature".
This experience of being exposed to kids, regularly interacting with them, being attached to them and being told 'I love you' caused me to reflect and consider how in a year, I won't see these kids anymore, but still we become attached to each other. Now they probably aren't thinking to the year ahead when the class finishes and justify suppressing emotions because of the timeline. They get attached anyways. When such a time comes, the students won't get frustrated and refuse to do anymore English classes, nor will they not do anymore schooling for fear of being attached to another teacher. Yet how many times have you or a friend sworn off dating or relationships or love because a relationship ended and people got hurt?
Being open to love, developing attachments and being close with people is something humans were meant to be and do. We're so busy closing ourselves off and being isolated we become curious about the lack of connection we have.
If you have the chance to move abroad and teach children, which you could do at any moment (it's not like you can't go back to your current life), and learn again how to love and care for someone in a pure and simple way, as a reminder of what such simplicity is even like. Enduring both love and heartbreak. Life is like that. Heart breaks do happen, but we often use this as an excuse to be closed off, and to carry this as a baggage. Instead if we learn to accept heartbreak and allow ourselves to process and deal with it, we can prepare for what's next, understanding that this time of our life has passed, we need to keep moving. Most importantly, not holding onto it, and still being open to what's next.
At the beginning and in the end of relationships, it's common for people to psych themselves out by using global words such as: always, forever, only, never and the like. This is very damaging to your outlook because it implies everlasting, which it obviously won't be. Try to see each person as their own chapter in your book called life. A chapter has a start, there are ups and downs, then the chapter has an end. Each chapter must end in order for the next one to begin. Take pleasure in knowing each page of the chapter which is a memory available for replay, and be mindful! rereading a chapter means you aren't reading the next one. We think since we're adults we're better than kids, the truth is we add unnecessary filters and layers to ourselves and self-complicate love to be a means of justification for previous, current or future behaviour and outcomes. I would even go so far as to say some have a certain pride in all the pain they've endured to show this as a proof of how messed up things are in life.
Here are my recommendations for how to rebuild you capacity to love: