On Getting Attached

Growing up is tough to do. You find a sense of self, almost immediately quash it to avoid relentless bullying, and your hormones start flowing all over the place. You have to learn to navigate among your peers, who are all as confused as you but never show it, and have to plan your future.

(Take heart; actual adults can't do this. We're all just faking.)

In light of this, it's no wonder that we all tell each other to stop getting attached. There's some good points in that; everything is temporary, people are fickle and the world is cruel. Assuming people and things will stay in your life is a good way to make yourself deeply unhappy.

At the same time, some of the aspects of not getting attached are utterly shitty. Relationships between people are built on trusting someone else to see your vulnerabilities and not immediately exploit them. Throwing yourself into something enthusiastically, even knowing it won't last, is a good way to find something to actually live for instead of killing time before you die. This is why I think "don't get attached" is incredibly shitty advice.

But it fits into three words and resonates with people who've been attached and are now reeling from emotional pain.

I am a great believer in the power of madcap ideas to make the world a better place. Sometimes they're good. Mostly they're not. But what they do is force you to think about why they're bad and how to make them better. They force you to question your assumptions.

So here's a madcap idea: Get attached.

Get attached to specific activities. Invest actual significant emotion into doing something - anything - no matter how arbitrary it is. Passion is interesting. Passion is fun.

Get attached enough to show your vulnerabilities. If you live long enough, one day you'll need to show them, so this is good practice. (Also, learning how to show vulnerability is part of learning good communication. You will need this every single day for the rest of your life.)

Get attached enough to fight for the things and people you love because they matter. Get attached enough to fight for yourself as well. You matter.

Get attached because it is near-impossible to completely detach oneself from the world. At some point that attachment will be broken. It sucks immensely. I'm not denying this. What also sucks is convincing yourself that you're not attached to anything and not having the tools to deal with the breaking of an attachment you've overlooked.

Get attached. Life is so painfully short - too short to spend it frantically trying to not get attached. When I die, I don't want to regret having turned away opportunities for fear of attachment - I want to feel it all, every second of it, the pleasure and the pain and the two mixed together, because I know that all too soon I won't be able to feel it any more, ever.

I'm not sure being overly attached is good for you. I don't fully believe what I just wrote (though I do believe that making attachments wisely and understanding that they're temporary is good for the soul). What I hope is that I make someone think, that they question the wisdom of trying to wall oneself up.