Do you ever see something and you’re immediately like, this. THIS is the source of my problems. I diagnose myself like this almost daily. Currently, the scapegoat I am blaming all of our inability to like people who are good for us on is a figure we all know and love (and hate, and love), the ever problematic hero in young adult literature, movies, and songs.
This is not a new discussion, so I won’t delve too deeply into it. I fully support young adult literature and its importance in literacy and culture, but it wasn’t until I stumbled upon the parody account on Twitter, @broodingyahero, that I started really thinking about the idea. It isn’t necessarily chastising the authors of these character types so much as it is poking fun at the cliche that is the troubled and handsome young hero that just needs some not-extraordinary female counterpart to achieve wholeness. But really though, think about it in regards to your personal life. What’s your idyllic protagonist like these days? Who walks into your life and drives you up the wall but in all the right ways? Do we want to figure people out because we want to fix them, make them more like us? If so, are we accepting our roles as the not-extraordinary female counterpart? At least in regards to my own life, I don’t think I’m overanalyzing this one.
At work last week, a coworker and I listened to most of the soundtrack of A Walk to Remember and joked about what we, as smart little girls, learned from this movie: First, our pivotal romantic moments would inevitably involve singing. But, more importantly, we would use our brains and tutoring skills and cardigan sweaters to reform bad boys and turn them into husband material, living happily ever after (for a summer. We conveniently ignored the terminal illness aspect). And it is getting kind of hard to ignore how thinking like that may have led to another workplace conversation we’ve recently had.
“He looks like a cute boy that would actually be nice to you!” “Yeah, so like, not our type.”
And all of this is actually hilarious. We are young and alone and that’s important. I think it gives the right armor of skepticism and an understanding of yourself that I truly don’t think you can get when you jump from relationship to relationship. It’s the people who don’t know how to be alone that worry me more than anything. But people are so intriguing, and once you find yourself with shamelessly minimal patience for beating around the bush, you learn a lot about people. The number one thing I think this kind of thinking does to boys and girls is widen the distance you have to go to get to the same page. The over-analysis is spent on anticipating what you think the other person is thinking, even if you’re sure of yourself. A conversation with a very smart boy about ambiguity made me realize that, proof that you can learn a thing or two from the brooding YA hero. You just have to get past the aloof sass and perfectly disheveled hair.
Whether you want to give any credit to the relationship advice of a struggling writer working on story about loneliness and bees (yes, bees.) and the strange people who choose to be my friends despite this is up to you. I won’t be offended.