Swimming Between the Flags

Words by: Sarah Arturi
Art by: Lillian Busby

Similar to the sea, life is unpredictable. Sometimes the water is clear enough that we’re able to feel comfort amongst its deep blue calmness. Other times, the waves become too choppy and the water too murky for us to see clearly through the storm. 

The irony here is that, much like the ocean, life moves so fast that our ability to stop, embrace and learn from our emotions is far too time-consuming when we’re stranded upon rough seas. We prefer to “move on” from those that hurt us by pushing our negative feelings aside, consequently finding ourselves caught up with people who are simply not right for us once more. We ignore those puncturing the holes in our boat; we ignore the red flags. 

Or, maybe we focus on the red flags so much that the thought of letting someone onto our boat to help us to safety is unfathomable. Instead, we choose to shy away from reaching out for a better ore or refuse to entrust others’ company while riding out the bad weather.   

I guess this is why we are told to swim between the flags; but how do we know which lifeguards will support us when the waves get rough?

If you were to ask me why the people who mean the most to me in my life do, in fact, mean the most to me, I’d be too overwhelmed by the list of factors 一 both intricate and vast 一 that contribute to my judgement. Sometimes I think, “wow, maybe I’m just lucky to be surrounded by such great people.” Other times, I get too caught up in my head about whether the people I’m exposed to now will be in my life for the long haul. 

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised that these conflicting thoughts are normal and that we never really know what the universe and its people have in store for us. After all, we aren’t psychics. All we can do is sit back and enjoy the ride, both the good and the bad bits, and hopefully learn some things along the way. Better still, I’d like to believe that in my 20 years of life I’ve learned a thing or two about green flags 一 so in this piece, I’ve narrowed down three main comfort points that may be useful to some of you. 

An Honesty-Driven Companion

It’s always nice to know that you are doing the right thing in every situation. However, as with the bittersweet nature of life: this is not always the case. It takes learning how to instil trust and honesty within yourself to uncover the depths of what your soul really desires. A person who can tell you that one outfit isn’t as flattering as you thought or encourages you to speak up to your unlikeable boss on your next shift is someone you want around. They have your best interests at heart, even when you subconsciously don’t. When you can find a friend or partner who keeps you grounded while allowing you to spread your wings, you’ve found a keeper. 

A Charger, Not a Drainer

Giving 100 per cent of your all to somebody who doesn’t appreciate your efforts is exhausting, to say the least. You can’t truly be yourself if your energy is constantly being drained by those who don’t fulfill you. It is important to recognise the qualities in a person that uplift you 一 and that’s not me saying you should always take but never give in a relationship. The key is finding a balance in which you can both recharge your batteries and reunite once again like nothing ever changed. So, save your energy for the good ones 一 you’ve got a life to live too. 

A Lawfully Good Changer

The law of life is change 一 people change, situations change, and you change. That’s what makes life so exciting. Who wants to watch a movie that doesn’t have a cliffhanger, or a love triangle, or a plot twist ending? Without change, things will become stagnant, including relationships. Having people in your life who encourage you to grow into a better person is a must. Or even better: having someone who can grow with you through the ups and downs will unlock the doors to an extraordinary life.  

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