Maria Kennedy
May 25, 2015 7:45 am

My grandmother was always interested in my love life. In high school, this sometimes annoyed me because it felt like all she cared about, and other times, it was sweet, like she thought someone might actually want to date me. In particular, my grandmother loved giving me romantic advice.  She liked telling me that she was the fastest runner in her class in the third grade, but eventually needed to slow down so that the boys could catch her.

I laughed whenever she said this. Most of the time, I didn’t worry about guys from my high school. It seemed pointless to worry about something that was so difficult to be successful at. Other girls were better suited for that sort of thing. Instead, I worried about my grades, my high school newspaper and my personal bests on the cross-country and track teams. I was literally concerned with running fast. Sometimes, I acted self-righteous about this, as if I was too smart or too important to be worried about guys.

For the most part, this continued for me in college. Sometimes, I’d freak out and attempt to make up for lost time, but always switched back to my default state which was to constantly worry about my future. Time spent away from my goals felt like a waste.

In my early twenties, I tended to always find myself in two romantic situations: I either pined after somebody completely uninterested in me or was with someone interested in me no matter what, even if I wasn’t all that into them. It’s always very one-sided for me, and both situations were painful for everyone involved.

My grandmother passed away last year, and while I was mourning, I thought about her advice about being the fastest runner in the third grade.

My grandmother was always proud of me and everything I accomplished in high school, college and beyond. My successes were always her successes. It’s my nature to be independent and to always be off in my own world, whether it’s writing or working. It’s not a bad thing to be independent. It’s generally something I love about myself. However, a healthy relationship falls somewhere in-between my two extremes. It isn’t just about control. It involves effort on the part of both people involved.

It doesn’t have to be painful. There’s room for fun in life. There’s no need to be constantly chasing after some just-out-of-reach success, as if doing anything that is an aside from my goals will derail my entire life.

My grandmother and I always had fun. We never felt guilty about it. We had tea parties with Tic Tacs and vanilla wafers. We used to dance with her cane and sing “Strangers in the Night.” We cuddled under her electric blanket and watched Shirley Temple movies.

And I realized, after all this time, what exactly she was telling me. Not to slow down to let someone else win. But to remember to enjoy the scenery. Nothing in life turns out as expected anyways, so it’s worth to go out dancing every once in a while and not take everything so seriously. It’s worth it to do as my grandmother told me and slow down. Maybe that means the boys can finally catch me. But maybe it also means that I’ll can catch my breath, look around, figure out what I really want, and know, really know, where I am.

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