A Wanted Generation

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“It’s better to be wanted and never gotten than to be gotten and never wanted.”

These are the words that flow through my mind on a daily basis. It’s part of what protects me from being hurt by the people around me whose approval and desire I covet.

As I think about the bar that I just left, and my mind slowly recovers from the extreme sensory overload, I think about what this generation is longing for. All I saw were a few friends and a bunch of people waiting to be noticed by someone else — ideally, someone who will increase their social status.  It’s all very primal, really — a petri dish of life-sized bacteria, waiting for osmosis to occur among its cells.

We all want to be wanted, and no one wants to admit that they want someone else. That is evident through the ridiculous lengths we go to make ourselves look beautiful or handsome, while maintaining an heir of mystery so others will seek us out and not force us to risk our hearts, our image or false sense of invincibility. It’s a cycle that is as equally self-defeating as it is paradoxical.

Our eyes are constantly bombarded with images of what “beauty” is, conditioning our minds to want what is attractive according to the world’s standards. If we live in the civilized Western society, capitalism has taken its toll on our perceptions through fantastic marketing and billions of attention-getting dollars.  It’s all to get us to spend our money on something we wouldn’t want unless someone told us that we wanted it.

Meanwhile, our parents are getting divorced in droves, our kids are suffering with countless self-esteem/self-image issues, and our definition of love is so completely distorted by our experiences that believing there’s a God who is Love doesn’t even compute in our finite brains because we have no grid for what true love looks like. The criteria is basically, “Can I live life better than my parents?”.

One less abusive word?  A marriage that lasts a few years longer? Less yelling at each other? More watched soccer games and piano recitals?  Is that what a greater love looks like to most of us? Where does this leave us?  It leaves us with an emptiness that is satisfied temporarily by the belief that we have lived slightly better than our biological predecessors, not ever tasting the joy of pure love.

It’s no wonder that single people are so far behind the previous generation in getting married. We want to be wanted, but not gotten.  If we’re gotten then we are forced to be known. And if we are known, experience tells us that we will be rejected or our closeness will result in pain of some sort. Therefore, it’s much easier, and actually makes more sense to never commit to anyone while getting the physical need for sex fulfilled in a variety of ways and giving up on the built-in need for companionship and love.

As a single person, I can’t speak for married people, but I would imagine that marriages deal with many of the same issues.  The two parties involved were just able to overcome one aspect of relationship that the single person hasn’t — the willingness to be gotten.

I know this is an extremely negative post, but it’s not meant to be. It’s meant to try and meet people where they are, to understand the mindset of many of my peers and myself so that I can take steps to change a belief and alter a behavior through forgiveness of myself and others.

We have an opportunity to change that. By encouraging one another, by opening up our lives to the people around us, by intentionally being kind, bold and caring, we can change the culture a little at a time so people know that love is available in its truest form, and that it’s okay to be gotten.

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