Reflecting on (500) Days of Summer

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Let’s try and talk about something different for now I suppose. I feel like I really need to write something right now but I don’t know if I’m really feeling ready to delve into more sensitive topics without having to password protect the post just because of how real those tend to get. So I am going to take this opportunity to talk about my past favorite movie. Back in high school (500) Days of Summer was definitely my number one favorite. For those who aren’t already familiar with this movie, though I figure most people are. It’s about this hopeless romantic, Tom, who’s entire idea of love was based on love stories and romance flicks, who falls in love with Summer, whose seen as your average quirky romantic movie girl. Most people point to this movie when referring to the manic pixie dream girl trope although I disagree that that’s how her character really is. Seeing as we are viewing this film through the eyes of Tom, who we already know has a pretty warped view of love and since he’s already destined her to be “the one” of course the way she’s going to come off is as a perfect human being whose quirks only make them more endearing. This is how he sees her. I related to Tom a lot when I saw it in high school and maybe even more so now. Most people would I feel. Maybe not to that extent but we all grow up with this perceived notion of how love should be and how it should feel, but it rarely does. There was an important lesson I at least tried to take to heart after watching the movie… That not everyone you fall in love with will be the one. No matter how much you sulk and wish things were different or no matter how hard you try and win back her affection sometimes people just aren’t the right people for you. I knew that even then, although I still haven’t actually learned from it as I still make the same mistake constantly.. I felt like that was the big thing to take away from this movie.

Although after deciding to watch it again because I stumbled upon a video talking about the more important lesson I should have taken from this. Or at least something I should take more into consideration going forward. Before I saw the film and knew that Tom’s feelings towards their hardships and their split had a lot to do with his preexisting notions of love and his expectations from it. He wanted something that well for one doesn’t really exist. Not in the way he’s been shown it through movies and stories at least. That version of love is only fiction. What I didn’t realize until now is not only did his idea of love made this split up feel so unbearable… It was probably the reason for it in the first place. Tom upon meeting Summer simply reacts with “holy shit..” after hearing how she likes the same band he does. He of course now believes she’s got to be the one. She had to be the one because how else could he explain how well they got along and how she shares the same interests as him.

I know I had a problem of liking people for superficial reasons and while I knew since I was just a high schooler and often I never actually had a full length conversation with this girl so the odds that this was THE person for me was very unlikely. I still believed that this person was somebody who could make me happy and I’d spend all my time trying to make them happy too. I fell for them based on the dumbest reasons: she was friendly to everybody and always exerted a level of charisma and confidence I wish I could, they were just so beautiful that I often had to be conscious of not staring.. well not stare but I happen to look in their eyes and I get lost in this thought and this fantasy that I just end up staring into their eyes for minutes. This is awful in of itself and is not a good basis for a lasting relationship which is why I don’t tend to do that so much anymore. In fact I’ve become more avoidant towards having romantic crushes until I feel like I can trust this person and that’s usually what ends up causing those feelings. I get close with someone and just one day I start wishing that I’m able to talk to that person every day, that I can give them all my affection and in return that they show that they want to be with me too. I suppose I just crave the intimacy of having someone who knows you completely and trusts you enough to let you know them as well. However I have been often very wrong in who I fall for and who I think I can trust. I don’t pick the very best people or maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe it’s the worst of people that flock to me.

Anyway, I didn’t think it’d take until the fourth paragraph to talk about what the real lesson was, but I always get off track and I didn’t even think I could fill a page about this part anyway. Though who knows this might be a few paragraphs longer. He fell in love with this idea he created of her but not only that, he was hurt immensely and reacted negatively to every time she didn’t fit that idea of her. He put too much pressure on her to be something she wasn’t and to have feelings towards that relationship that she just couldn’t have. She said from the very beginning that she wasn’t looking for anything serious and Tom tells himself that that’s okay. That that was just something to be worked through and he kept trying to make her into something she wasn’t and that tends to put a strain on a relationship. I think I’ve done that a few times. Not just on the romantic ones, definitely a few times with best friends and my expectations of how i wanted them to be. It’s worse with the romantic ones because it’s almost impossible to see when you’re in the relationship or at peak crush feelings whether or not you’re falling for them or for what you want them to be. I’ve been brought up with movies and romance stories and it’s put in that same warped idea of love in me as it has Tom and I’ve sabotaged my relationships because I expect people to be people they aren’t. Sure sometimes those people are actively trying to make them seem like someone else, but often I’m just wanting to be with that perfect idea of a partner and I try and see them and fit them as closely into that mold as I can. Once you get out of it you can finally see how holding on to that idea is only hurting the both of you and the healthiest thing for the both of you is to just let go. And just like how I think Tom gets his sort of acceptance and separation of who she is and who he loved, I think I get mine too. It takes just one conversation or a few and you don’t see that person you loved anymore.

It’s their same voice, their same mannerisms, their same eyes and smile yet you don’t feel like you are talking to the same person. You never were and when you get hit with that reality that hey they aren’t who you wanted them to be, you’re maybe not what they wanted you to be, whatever.. and you begin to start seeing yourselves as just two people. Not lovers, not exes, just two people who shared a brief moment of connection with each other and whose moment has passed. That’s when you can start healing and move on. And you just gotta hope the next one is filled with less pain and more happiness. I definitely think that was the lesson high school me should have taken from this movie.

-T.

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