Middle grounds and in-betweens—where boundaries are blurred, expectations are muddled, and nothing is really satisfied.
Let’s start with the basics.
2% milk: it doesn’t have the creaminess of whole milk, but it isn’t the health conscious choice of skim milk.
Diet soda: it’s ultimately still soda, and by default unhealthy. But it tries to compromise with a lower calorie count and a poser for sugar?
B’s: the mutant hybrid between effort and indifference—the love child of half-heartedness. With just a step further in effort, there was the potential to make an A. However, it’s a mediocre enough grade to be lugged out of the average C category.
“Maybe’s” and “I’ll let you know later’s:” Please just give a curt reply now or don’t respond at all. Don’t use the torture of waiting.
“Oh I don’t know, anything is good with me’s”: Take this opportunity to voice an opinion, dammit. What exactly do we want?
These in-betweens may seem petty and trivial, but when gray areas are applied to human relationships and connections:
Friends with benefits: Often without fully understanding or even acknowledging the other person’s desires and intentions, there’s a murkiness of “what exactly is this?” Does the other person secretly want to be committed, or are they okay with this being casual—or are they faking their feelings? Am I faking my feelings?
Relationships and friendships: Whenever there’s a problem, there’s an awkwardness of not wanting confrontation, but frantically wanting clarity. So are we still mad at each other, or have we signed an unspoken truce? Do we want to remain friend-zoned, or is there something more? Despite burning questions though, keep our texts vague so we don’t seem desperate. Say what we think the other person wants to hear to ensure we don’t overstep the boundaries of invisible chalk we never drew in the first place. Why don’t we just drift in our security floaties of stagnation, perpetually stuck in a tense ambiguity? Oh, how lovely fifty shades of gray area feel…
Moving on in life: When moving between homes or stages in life, there’s a clear disparity between the relationships we fostered back home, and the connections we are trying to make in wer new environment. Whether we are transitioning to university or a new city, distance becomes the new obstacle. So, there we are on an island of in between—stuck between two lands. It’s important to remember the people of our roots that we still deeply care about—but life must be lived in the present, and we can’t let our past hold we back from forming new connections with a fresh start.
Middle grounds are undoubtedly frustrating—but they may not be all bad.
Perhaps being in a strange mid stage means we’re simply more flexible. We’re okay with allowing our foods to touch and our colours to mix. We can simultaneously satisfy ourselves and please others, as well. We understand how to self-motivate, but also how to give ourselves some leeway, so we are not choked by the dilemma of a must-do or a fuck-it. Middle grounds teach us patience—how to relax among a string of high-strung stress, and how to accept slow progress. In the gray area of relationships, it is only when we live in the questions for a while that our confusion can finally clear. Human connections don’t always need labels hot off the press.
Balance is difficult and cumbersome, but it’s necessary.
The past and the future are not mutually exclusive options. The present is the ultimate middle ground—a harmonious blend between everything we used to be, everything we’ve learned, and a culmination of what we will become. And in that, there is beauty.