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The Past, the Present, and the Future Walked Into a Bar. It Was Tense.

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The future. What even is it? Well people, the future is a noun, a rapper (listen to maskoff #hype #lit #do #it), also there is, or I guess there was, Phil of the Future (arguably the hottest disney character to ever exist), and the future is what will happen in two seconds but now that’s the past, so the future is the next two seconds but that’s the past again, DO YOU GET WHAT I’M SAYING? THE FUTURE IS CHANGING, ALL. THE. TIME. For example, when my high school boyfriend and I planned to go to the US Surf Open in Huntington Beach and then he ended up bailing on me and somehow forgot to tell me (?) and then we end up breaking up the week after… I can tell you that the future sure does constantly change, especially in relationships.

The future and this idea of planning for couples in a relationship is different in high school than it is in college. It’s cute in high school when your girlfriend or boyfriend makes summer plans with you or when she/he plans on going to senior prom because junior prom was so fun. But with college relationships, planning carries more than just the adjective “cute.” Because after college, real life hits and real life includes a shared apartment, then maybe a proposal. Then all of a sudden, next thing you know is that you have a dog (golden retriever obviously) and then a kid, and then two kids, and then next thing you know those kids are going to college and now you’re retired and BOOM you have grandkids and fun Thursday nights no longer include pub night but bingo and AHHH!!!!! Also, I forgot to put “getting a job” on the list, so clearly you see where my priorities are.

During freshman orientation, I remember the great emphasis that was put on college relationships potentially turning into marriages —the so-called “matchbox” lovers. It was almost like the college wanted us to find our spouse here. Maybe because if we all married each other (lol as if), our children would be so smart and add to the brilliant, astute, and ingenious Swarthmore community — obviously this is a joke but as I wrote this down it could maybe be true. Nonetheless, it was quite intimidating because the future is just that, intimidating! It is unknown and something that cannot be completely controlled, no matter how hard we try. Life is not about the final product or the end goal, it is about the process. So enjoy the moment and enjoy the now because that is all we have (so cheesy but also so true). Don’t worry about being exuberant with your partner 24/7 to ensure a future for the relationship. If you worry too much about the future, then there just simply won’t be one.

A key component to this is communication, as a relationship is a two-way street. Maybe you’re having fun and enjoying the moment but your partner isn’t. Communication is a fix for that. Essentially, if your relationship is healthy, happy, and fun there will more likely be a future than not. So just focus on “right now.” I am not saying to cheat on your partner because you were “in the moment” or to treat your partner badly because you weren’t “planning for their reactions.” No. Be respectful and treat your significant other with the care and love they deserve, but do not obsess about the future — just be with your partner because you both want to be with each other.

I understand, though, that we are all human and are all most definitely flawed, so here are some helpful tips that could help make your life easier:

See your relationship for what it is. A relationship is a shared experience and a time to grow not only by yourself but also with someone else. No planning will change how compatible you and your partner are, so just be yourself. If you are yourself, the relationship will either work out or it won’t, but you do not want to be in a relationship in which you are not yourself.

Don’t stress. Even though we all do it, stressing is the most unproductive activity ever. It will get you nowhere! Stressing too much takes you out of the present, which means you are not only missing the process of the growing relationship, but you are also killing the process and the relationship as well. We all get excited for what could be or for what could happen, and then we stress about those things becoming a reality. If we “plan” too much for the unexpected future, there won’t be a future.

It is that time in my article that I shall leave you all with a short, sweet anecdote. I had a fairly big crush on this one boy in elementary school and he and I would email (hahaha) all the time. During spring break, he went to Washington D.C. with his mom and grandma and was emailing me back on his mom’s phone while they were in a museum. His mom turned to him and said something along the lines of, “Hey, stop texting and learn about some history.” But then this young, elementary-aged ANGEL said (*cue to grab tissues*) “Mom, I’m making history.” Well, he sure was making history, because that crush ended up fizzling out, but he’s a prime example of focusing on the present, I would say, because he sure as heck did not care about the past.

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