Learning how to lose things is a vital part of growing up. We learn how to lose when we are playing games, because we are taught early on that not everyone can win everything. We are even taught how to be graceful in our losses, so that no one thinks we are “sore losers” or “bad sports”, as if those labels were comparable to being “thieves” or “criminals”. We learn to shake hands, reflect on our weaknesses, and work harder.
At a young age, we learn about losing things like teeth and how despite the suggested morbidity, its a loss that is required in order to grow stronger. Later in life, we learn about losing less tangible things, like patience, temper, and sanity; and how to appropriately handle situations where those phrases come into play.
We learn how easy it is to lose physical things, like keys, phones, chapstick, and the infamous other sock, and then we are taught several methods, like always having a spare, or retracing our steps, to help us to be better prepared when things go missing or how to quickly relocate them.
With time, we learn how to lose our loved ones when they pass. We are taught how to take comfort in where they may be headed, or in the prosperous life they lived before parting. We then learn that things that are as heavy as death can spark a different reaction in each of us, and that those feelings are ones we are all entitled to.
Along with losing, we are also taught the importance of letting go. When little ones are learning how to ride a bike, parents let go of the guide they hold on the smalls of their backs and watch as their children wobble off to an eventual success, even if letting go causes them to fall several times before doing so.
On warm summer days atop the quarry that filled with rain and created a giant body of water, we learn to let go of the rope swing, because if we don’t let go of that one, we’d be sure to regret it.
We are also taught how to let go of the past and of the things we can’t change, backed by sayings like, “Don’t sweat the small stuff, kid” and “the most important play is the one that happens next”.
Despite all of our life lessons in losing and letting go, we can’t always be expected to be entirely prepared for every loss we face or to let go of something immediately. This can be especially true in situations where there are no definite endings; like growing apart from an old friend for any variety of reasons – there isn’t always an exact moment where the loss we experience is distinctly defined. How can we lose and let go of something we never expected to?
Society has a strange thing with coping and timing and how much of it we are allotted for whatever situation we are faced with. We live in a very fast-paced world where taking “too long” to get over a loss, or refusing to let go of something that has strongly impacted us, is seen as something that is negative. But sometimes, things just take time, especially when there is a strong fondness attached to it.
Sometimes it may seem like cleansing ourselves of these types of situations, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind style would make things so much easier, like if we could only erase any memory of what we are holding on to so it no longer held us back, then we could move on, lose and let go, and continue on with building ourselves and our lives.
However, it is important to allow ourselves to time to heal, because if we do not, then we only hurt ourselves more by trying to hide our struggle. We shouldn’t feel guilty for allowing the time that is needed to sort through an emotional and upsetting event, because our mental health is so vital to our success.
Perhaps a lesson we should be taught in our lives is not only how and why we lose, but also that losing and letting go can sometimes take more time than what is expected, and that it is okay to delegate time to those emotions, so long as it does not become main focus of our lives. We don’t have to be afraid of loss, we can still take it with grace as we’ve been taught to do since the start, but if needed, we should know that we can modify how loss is dealt with in order to heal ourselves in the best way possible. It is okay to struggle with the thought of losing and letting go, so long as it isn’t something that we allow to consume us.
By: Katie Ahrens, Anxiety In Teens Contributor