What making friends in New York has taught me about forgiveness

I hate when people tell me “you’ll understand when you’re older.”

I am older. At least a year older than I was last year. And the year before that. And so on. I’m edging up to 24, and I would like to believe I’ve learned a lot about life and love and moving on and looking forward. Especially over the last few years as I’ve transitioned from a life of the simple, southern, waitress to the grad student stumbling around New York City trying to learn to keep up with the pace.

But maybe they’re all right. Maybe everything only makes more sense as time passes. Maybe it’s not a single experience that provides you with all the necessary insight on particular area of life, whether friendship or relationships. Or even insight on yourself, your beliefs or desires.

Every time I reach a moment in my life where I think, “Okay, I know how this works,” or “I’m confident in my ability to handle situation X,” I make a traumatic mistake. Or at least in my mind they’re traumatic. My anxiety, which was previously the only element of my being that I was certain was only conquerable over time, tell me that they all are anyway.

And when this happens I learn the same lesson over, and over, and over again. I am going to make mistakes. I’m going to say words I don’t mean, and act on things that I shouldn’t. I’m going to make the wrong decision at what I feel is the right time, or the right decision at the wrong time. I’m going to trip over my own feet, and my work won’t always be 100 percent perfect. I’m going to unintentionally hurt someone, and someone is going to hurt me. I’m going to get irrationally upset over something minuscule, or say something minor and evoke that irrationality in someone else. These things are going to keep happening no matter how much I analyze, and overanalyze, and analyze again, all the lessons I’ve encountered over the past 4 or 5 years. These shake ups will keep happening even when I was so sure I’d learned enough to pilot through them from prior turbulence.

Time, and only time, is going to help me learn how to cope through and navigate my mistakes.

Most recently, however, there is one lesson I’ve stumbled upon that I do believe is the most important to making mistakes. Acceptance and forgiveness.

 Personally I would consider myself a forgiving person. I don’t like holding grudges, because I believe that negativity is a waste of energy that could be more positively distributed elsewhere. I guess this is a prominent ideal that has stuck with me through the past several years of blindly steering through young adulthood.

But until I moved to New York, I don’t think I had actually befriended many people who hold so much acceptance and forgiveness in their hearts; in different ways than I do. I’ve never been able to speak so freely about my mistakes, and feel comfort and warmth on the other side, rather than cold or heavy walls. I was always too scared. I always thought, “I need to figure this out myself, and learn how to cope with X situation on my own next time, more appropriately, more maturely, etc., etc., etc.”

It could be my difficulty with trust, but I’ve never maintained relationships with so many people that honestly reach their hands out and say, “let me help you through this, I can listen” or even convey to me that it’s actually okay to make a mistake. It’s okay to be human, and it’s okay to fall.

I’ve always considered forgiveness important for positive energy. But what I’ve learned, with time, with healing, with new friendship and a transition into (what I hope to be is) a new and better person, is that forgiveness isn’t only intended to block the negative emotions or circumstances.

Forgiveness, I now believe, is the most important component for love.

Through the friendships, the relationships, I’ve formed in New York, I know that  “hey, this will make more sense when you’re a little older,” as often as I roll my eyes at that statement, doesn’t quite signify what I think it may. Most of the time, it’s an opening to enlightenment on some of the most significant pieces of love.


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