“People don’t realize this but loneliness, it’s underrated.” No, I didn’t write it. Yes, it’s from a movie. Doesn’t make it less true.
It’s no secret that I absolutely adore (500) Days of Summer. As a film, it transcends generations through its boldfaced honesty and reaches to the hopeless romantic in each of us. Tom, the hopeful hero of the story, is a character who we all can relate to. Just like him, we’re eventually drawn to the idea of true love at some point in our lives. But that’s through no fault of our own. We’d see it in movies, hear it play on the radio, and read about it in books. We’re exposed to it at such a young age that it becomes more of a goal than our own dreams, which is pretty much what happened to Tom. He’s the only enduring human trait throughout the story, even when the film accentuates those wondrous moments when he’s side by side with the girl of his dreams, then exaggerates his misery when he’s all alone. And isn’t that how it always is when we’re in love? We believe in it so blindly that we feel we need each other in order to be truly happy. It’s only when Tom climbs out of the depths of his own sorrow that he learns to be happy for himself and to embrace his life because of it. That to me is the true message of the film. So, through the context of (500) Days of Summer, I’m going to show you that being single doesn’t mean you have to be miserable. In fact, it may be the best thing that ever happened to you.
In Tom’s eyes, Summer Finn is the perfect girl. He doesn’t realize the complexity of her character and chooses to ignore it despite the complicated nature of their relationship. In the end, he faces heartbreak. But he’s still very much fixated on her because he believes she is the one. And in the falling action, both Tom and Summer see a complete reversal in their roles. Summer finds the man of her dreams while Tom ends up by himself. It’s not until their final scene together when we see Summer for who she really is. Indeed she’s perfect, but she’s just a phase. The fact that they stumbled upon each other at this time in their lives is purely coincidental. Their relationship may not have been the best idea, but it was a journey they both needed to take. For Summer it was a pathway to happiness in life. For Tom, however, it was a way for him to find happiness in himself, not in the big blue eyes of the girl in the copy room.
This is a film we all need to see from time to time. It reminds us that the agony and heartache we endure are all a part of life. No doubt we often over-exaggerate the pain, mainly because it feels real when we’re in it. Then, we realize it wasn’t so bad after all once we emerge from the darkness triumphant. Moping around in your room, wandering through the darkened city, or brooding in an empty theater, all of it seems sadly funny in a way. And it’s true. The things we do when we’re heartbroken are so immature. But we have every right to be that way. Whether she-devil came in and tore you to pieces, or your man-boy stomped your heart with an estrogen-filled rage, doesn’t matter. We’re all human, capable of emotion and the capacity to feel. So when we’re stripped down and vulnerable, we’re essentially kids again, desperate for a hug and a companion. Fortunately for you, I’ve had someone take a dump on my chest (not literally, c’mon!) and while the pain doesn’t get any easier, somewhere along the way it does get better. It just takes time.
A little more than a year ago, I created this blog in spite of my ex. It had been months after our break-up, yet I refused to let go. I couldn’t find it in myself to forgive her for the things she had done. With no one to turn to, I confided in my writing. It seemed like a good idea to turn her into literature, except I was much too angry and therefore, way too biased. I ended up casting her in a negative light, which is something that writers must never do. Yes, it’s the golden rule to be truthful, but never prejudiced because you risk losing credibility. Of course, the sad little boy who lost his soul-mate wouldn’t listen to reason. So I kept writing. Weak, pathetic, immature, I know. But what I didn’t know at the time was that she was just another phase. I viewed her as the one for so long that my own happiness depended on her. And as much as I didn’t want to break-up, it was something that had to happen. I needed to live for me, not for a girl I had met in high school. Now, well over 500 days after our relationship ended, I’m proud to say that I’m single and I’m happy. All it took was a pen, a journal, and a clear conscience to get me here.
So, what does it mean to be single? Does it mean that you’re all alone with no one to love you? Thankfully, the answer to that riddle is no. It’s a frail cliché with no truth to it. Loneliness does not have to equal sadness. You can be happy again. The only challenge is learning to find it in yourself. I found mine through writing. The craft brought me back to reality. Yours, however, is something you’ll have to discover on your own. It’s gonna be a long and arduous journey, but trust me, the revelations you’ll come to at the end is well worth the adventure. Besides, what would life be if you could just skip to the end? Enjoy life as it happens. More importantly, learn to enjoy it on your own.