Just two lines. Short, simple.
But they mean so much.
Confession time: One of my recurring faults as a younger man was my tendency to tie up far too much of my self-worth (as in all of it) in how the girls/women I liked treated me. If a girl I was dating acted into me, I felt confident and strong. If she didn’t…
Well, you can guess.
Over time, odds are we all break some hearts, and we all get our hearts broken. But a wrong idea to which I clung for the longest time was that there was someone out there who could make me happy.
Think about those last five words: who could make me happy.
Not finding happiness on my own–finding someone who would do it for me.
It wasn’t until I was maybe twenty-five that I realized that was a fool’s errand. It wasn’t until I was twenty-five that I realized that my self-worth wasn’t determined by this woman or that woman, by this phone call or that email. It was determined by my decision to be happy with myself.
Strangely enough, one of my favorite songs addresses this very thing. In Third Eye Blind’s “Motorcycle Drive By,” the following two lines recur…
I’ve never been so alone
And I’ve never been so alive.
I’ve said before that I’m a slow learner, and so I am. Many of you figured this out during earliest childhood; others learned it in adolescence. It took me a quarter-century to realize that I had to be happy with myself before I could be happy in a relationship, that me alone was better than me with someone who wasn’t right for me. A simple lesson, yes, but crucial.
The song in question contains longing, love, and regret. But it’s spangled with a dazzling sense of liberation, an edifying burst of joy.
Here it is. See if you don’t agree.
One last thing. It’s good to make mistakes as long as you learn from them. It took me a long time to learn this particular lesson, but when I did, a sense of peace I’d never dreamed possible started to grow within me.
A year or so later, I met my wife. And even though I was better on my own than I was with every other woman I dated, the me I became with my wife was a better version yet.
You might roll your eyes at me, but it’s true:
I’ve never been so alive.