I’m a planner. If I want to see you on the weekend, I’ve typically already reached out by Wednesday night. When I travel, I have a list of places to go, things to do and restaurants to try long before I leave. ‘We’ll play it by ear‘ is one of my least favorite phrases and if I don’t have plans for Friday by Thursday I get a little panicky.
I like to plan because it’s safe. Having a plan means having certainty. I know what I’m doing, where I’m going and (most importantly) who I’m going to be with. Of course, plans change or go awry and I don’t always handle that well, but I’d rather have a plan and have it go wrong than to just not have one…that’s unthinkable.
The flaw in my plan about always having a plan is that there are certain things you can’t plan for.
But honestly, the world we live in today is very conducive to my (slightly) obsessive planning tendencies. Smart phones allow me to check the weather, find directions to my next destination, know how long it’s going to take me to get there, get information on any restaurant or shop I want to go to, message friends instantly, shop, put things in my schedule and invite other people to events, have the lowdown on the happenings near me (and find out who that I know is interested)…it’s a lot of information that leaves little room for ‘what if’s’ and ‘maybe’s’ and especially, ‘I don’t know’s.’
I do know; and I’m very okay with that. We’re very okay with that. As a culture, we don’t like uncertainty…it makes us uncomfortable. We’d rather say ‘no thank you’ than to say ‘yes’ and then be disappointed if it doesn’t go as planned.
The challenge arises with those few but important things in which planning doesn’t work. Namely, relationships of any kind.
The night Nicholas and I met I was not planning on going out. It was a slightly impulsive, very unlike me, last minute decision to meet my friend who was showing him around downtown – instead of going to the weekly dinner I usually go to on Monday nights.
I didn’t know that Nicholas was seriously considering living here when I reached out to interview him for my blog. We weren’t sure where he would be placed for residency when we started dating (he had 1 in 12 chance of landing Charleston). Today, we can’t guarantee that we will continue to choose each other day in and day out…but we move forward despite the uncertainty.
Whether you’re starting a relationship, ending one or have been married ten years, here are some reasons love is worth choosing over and over…despite the risk.
Committed relationships often are associated with ‘settling down;’ we think that after the initial whirlwind is over, that all fun and excitement leaves with it. If that were true I’m not really sure why anyone would want to date someone seriously, much less get married. I don’t think relationships should be boring; in fact, I would say learning to love someone and sharing your life with them is the ultimate adventure. With the risk involved, the challenges faced and the growth that often results, there isn’t much ‘settling’ involved. Sometimes it doesn’t feel as exciting, and that’s where we are reminded to pursue fun things together and continue to learn about each other since there is always more to discover.
Relationships challenge us. No matter how good things are at first, how much you love the other person or how much you consider yourself to be a healthy person…difficulties are inevitable. Sometimes love can be really painful, which is why so many people don’t choose it. But for better or for worse, it is through challenges that we grow. Single life can be tough in it’s own way, but I have found the difficulties faced in relationships to be a lot more trying and a lot more fruitful. Learning to be vulnerable, to trust and to put others before yourself are all important lessons we can only pick up in relation to other people.
We’ve all heard the saying, ‘no risk, no reward.’ Risk often leads to failure, failure that can be unbelievably painful. But risk can also result in something more beautiful than we could have imagined. There’s nothing comparable to or more powerful than the love that lasts. If you’re like me and you’re in your twenties, chances are you’ve already been stung by love- or the lack there of. It’s also possible that it happens again, but if we don’t keep trying, we lose it all – the chance to understand why it really is worth it.
Here’s to embracing uncertainty and the risk that is inevitable in love.