It only takes a few ingredients to make bittersweetness. A twinge of sadness, a pinch of happiness, a definitive ending & a hopeful beginning. Add some tears, a little laughter, wrap it all up in a deep sense of gratitude and you have a nice cup of bittersweet.
Bittersweetness might be the most complex emotion. The waves of sadness and sweetness are perfectly equal even though it seems impossible to be washed over with both at the same time. But I think it’s also the most beautiful way to feel truly alive, right here, right now.
Bittersweetness cannot inherently exist without endings. It marks the ending of a chapter, a journey, an experience. You who are at this moment, how you feel presently and maybe never again. As humans who innately crave the new & next, you think we’d embrace the endings, write them off, and happily wave as they fade away. But in reality, endings wreck us. They stir up all these crazy emotions deep in our psyches and rip our hearts out. Even if something negative in our lives is ending, we still experience that slight pang of sadness for what it was or what it could have been.
But we are creatures of hope, even when we feel hopeless.
I kind of love bittersweetness because it sneaks up on you. Sometimes you can expect it (it loves to attend high school and college graduations), but a lot of times it just appears when you least suspect it. At family weddings, moving out of your crappy apartment, returning to a place you haven’t been to in a while, hugging a friend that you lost touch with, simply realizing you’re not the person you used to be anymore. It’s not always the event itself that’s bittersweet—it’s the acknowledgment of the end of a chapter and the inevitable change that comes with it. You’re never going to be the same person in the same space again and that is equally bitter & sweet.
But the thing I think I love most about bittersweetness is its undeniable way of grounding us right in the present. To quote The Office (I know weird flex, hang with me), Andy Bernard says during the season finale, “I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you actually left them.” Bittersweet grows in the moment between the ending and the beginning. It stems from gratitude for where we’ve been and where we’re going. It may sound dramatic or an over exaggeration but I think bittersweetness is the all encompassing emotion of being alive–life at its essence is the combination of bitter & sweet &.
I dedicate this post to my former roomie, Danielle. I wrote this entire blog post on the train in the Notes section on my phone the day she moved out. I can’t think of a truer embodiment of bittersweet–we always knew the year of living together were the good old days, and it was bittersweet when it ended. It’s also a nod to the semi-sweet chocolate chips I always kept in the fridge. They’re equally bitter and sweet–the perfect combination.