Yes, I’m about to start this piece with a John Green quote so hold on to your hats kids. In Paper Towns, he wrote,
“What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.”
When I first read that I was about 14 and took life literally. People were people and feelings were temporary. The decisions that I had made up until that point didn’t affect anyone so I lived out my middle and high school days as just another face. Towards the end of my senior year, however, I got into a fight with one of my best friends at the time and that’s when it clicked. That singular argument was the beginning of the end of one of the most tumultuous and fantastic friendships that I had ever had, and probably will ever have, but I finally understood that quote.
I understood how people could so easily idealize others to be the best and worst things to ever happen to them. I saw how people could become so much more than just people because in my mind I made my friend to be the sun at the center of my solar system. And there’s nothing wrong with seeing the value in people. But no person is the sun, not even yourself.
Since then, I’ve seen it everywhere. In clearly broken relationships, people will refuse to let go of the other person because they remember how they used to be. Or in seemingly good relationships when one person messes up, the other will immediately condemn them to never being forgiven.
Society has a habit of perpetuating the idea of romanticizing. Whether it be the girl next door or Prince Charming, we are ingrained in the idea that people’s archetypes are stagnant. We meet people in real life and immediately categorize them and expect them to stay the same. This doesn’t just occur romantically. We idealize our friends and our family just as often. But putting someone in a box or on a pedestal has the same unfortunate results because no one has the ability to meet expectations they didn’t know existed. That’s not to say that we can’t see the parallels between someone and the moon, stars, or any other larger than life concept.
The issue lies in losing the person within the comparison; in making the comparison all they are.
I’ve met people who are garbage cans. They’re not even the trash itself, just the container. But I’ve also met people who are every cheesy line from every romantic comedy. They are sugar, spice, and everything nice. But no matter the individual, at the end of the day you have to recognize their screw-ups as well as their sincerity.
Humanity is a conundrum as we are both infinitely large and small. We are the most important beings in our universe but there is so much more around us. Maybe the best compliment we can pay each other is seeing each other for what we are: endless multitudes.