We are raised in a society that frowns upon the immaturity of teenagers and views reckless behavior as a misunderstanding of life and a need for guidance.
Think back to when you had your first taste of love. Maybe you realize now it wasn’t love, or maybe you haven’t been able to find someone who compares since.
Whatever the memory means to you, I bet you look back on this time with some sense of nostalgia. The nostalgia comes from a longing for openness and vulnerability we had when we were teenagers.
The younger we are, the greater capacity we have to throw ourselves into love.
This is because we don’t have years of baggage clouding our feelings, and we don’t dodge potential connections based on the fear of getting hurt.
When I was 16 on vacation in my mom’s hometown, I met a boy. We were immediately drawn to each other, and he turned out to be the perfect combination of charisma, kindness and maturity; I still look for all those qualities in men today.
Perfect kisses and long talks were followed by romantic, starry nights and glowing fireworks out in country fields.
I’ve never had three days go by so quickly. We both returned home after that vacation without really knowing where we would end up.
Five years later, I’ve still never met someone who has made me feel quite so much. It’s hard to know whether it was love or if it is the instinct to crave what you can’t have.
What I do realize, though, is I haven’t been able to feel the same type of love for another man as I did when I was 16.
We have all met someone who has come into our lives in the most perfect manner, someone who hit us in our core with a feeling that could not be ignored.
But, society has taught us to brush off these intense feelings because we are young. We are told our emotions are invalid because we don’t have the wisdom of age to back them up.
I don’t believe this for a second. Teenage love has the ability to be the rawest, most simplified version of love we will ever experience.
The dating world is tough. It scars you, changes you; it makes you start planning the rest of your life with your best friend, a few dogs and a “don’t f*ck with me attitude” in order to avoid being hurt again.
But, maybe naivety isn’t as bad as society makes it out to be.
Maybe, it just means that the big, scary world hasn’t hardened us yet. We are more open to receiving love and showing ourselves honestly. We dig less and trust ourselves a little bit more, knowing who it feels right to be with.
I completely understand the fact our brains are not fully developed when we are teenagers.
We are less mature, more emotionally driven and are much more likely to make impulsive decisions. Often, this results in silly relationships that make us cringe as adults.
Not everyone has a life-changing relationship as a teenager, but I do think the ability to feel emotions with less constraint comes with young age.
Aging leads to experience, and experience can lead to intelligence, giving us the ability to rationalize who is good for us and who may screw us over.
We don’t throw ourselves out there as often as we used to, so we may miss some incredible opportunities to interact with someone we wouldn’t have before.
The most heart-pounding relationships aren’t based on a foundation of logic, though. The best ones are formed by the ability to open up to someone who feels "right."
Love has a way of irrationally steering you toward someone you wouldn’t be able to think your way to. And when we’re teenagers, we give into these emotions so easily.
We follow them, trusting them with that 16-year-old arrogance our parents told us to drop unless we wanted to be grounded for the weekend.
We may get hurt from this emotionally-driven confidence, but we are also given the opportunity to learn.
I believe when we are young, we are fully capable of understanding love. What we had wasn’t perfect, but it may never be that innocent again.
Maturity doesn’t mean sh*t if you don’t know how to tap into that inner 16-year-old who so desperately wants to find someone who cares about him or her.
That younger version of yourself was clear of the barriers we are now navigating as adults in the dating world. We're searching for someone who seems logically good, rather than someone who feels right.
So, maybe, being young and dumb and in love was actually the smartest, most honest thing we’ve ever done.