After the Final Rose
Okay, we have to talk about The Bachelorette. Or maybe rather I have to talk about The Bachelorette because I have so many feelings and I have been overwhelmed. I might actually end up doing a series on the franchise because there are so many layers — I mean obviously we’re going to talk about the specific events of Rachel Lindsay’s season finale (spoiler alert?), but there’s also so much to discuss about The Bachelor franchise as a whole, Rachel’s expedition as the first black bachelorette, why the show has been successful for so long… I mean it just goes on and on. For the sake of brevity, I will try to discuss only in part what I saw of Rachel’s season and the finale, but know that those other posts are brewing. Okay:
Where do we even fucking begin. Also before I get started I feel like I should point out that this is going to be a HEAVILY biased analysis, I’m #TeamPeter all the way and still not convinced Bryan is a real human person so let’s be clear about that.
It seemed like the crux of this season fell to the “fairytale ending” — the biggest issue for Rachel being that Peter did not appear ready to propose at the end of taping, which she felt he ought. There have been all kinds of hypotheses: did she choose a ring over true love? Did she settle for second best? Did she actually not settle by choosing someone who guaranteed the ending she’d envisioned?
Let’s speak to that last one, because I think it’s the strongest counter argument to my feeling that she made a terrible mistake. Rachel said from the beginning that at the end of this journey she wanted to be engaged. It was clear to every man who stepped out of the limo, this bitch was not fucking around. She’s not trynna play house, she’s not trynna be a girlfriend, she’s trynna live that #WifeLife (copyright pending). And every decision she made, including that final one, was congruent with that goal. She had a mission, she set out to accomplish it, she succeeded. And if that’s all this is — if your “quest for love” is akin to getting a degree or checking off a list — then congratulations I guess. But I don’t know if organic elements like love and relationship can be approached in the same way as getting a degree or checking off a list. You can’t go into it with a death grip on how it “should” turn out. I mean you can, but odds are you’ll fuck it up.
In my process of healing I’ve learned (but still mostly ignore) that you gotta try to hold all of your plans, dreams, goals, desires loosely. Desire is good, goals are good, and taking active steps to fulfill those desires/accomplish those goals is great. But when you start white-knuckling it, when it goes from a desire to a mission, when you NEED it to happen the way you pictured it happening, it sucks any life out of the thing you want—you can no longer enjoy it because now you’re dependent on it. What helps me understand this is the difference between eating dinner when you’ve eaten at regular intervals throughout the day, and eating dinner when you haven’t had food in six hours. How many of us, when we finally get to eat after suffering the latter, don’t even remember tasting the food before it was swallowed? We’re devouring instead of savoring, the body needs it so there’s no time for delight. The same goes for desire, if you can hold it loosely, when you get it, you can enjoy it. If your life becomes dependent on it, when you get it, you treat it like Gollum* did The Ring (probably the only LOTR reference I have ever made and will ever make in my life). And if that thing is a marriage, where another human life is involved, it’s gonna make everyone miserable.
So when I see Rachel say she wants to end this thing engaged, and seemingly make all of her decisions with that goal in mind, I have to wonder what would have happened had she left a little room for a storyline, a fairytale, that she hadn’t planned. Peter was not saying no to marriage. In fact, Peter (though I’m thankful she didn’t let him go through with this) was willing to propose just to keep her in his life (*sobs uncontrollably recalling the scene*). Peter’s answer wasn’t “no”, it was “not yet”. (Which, and I know I’m playing fast and loose with these parenthetical statements here but I ALSO must point out, is a perfectly valid and reasonable request for having known and “dated” someone for ten weeks! *eye roll emoji* Anyway) He gave her as much assurance as a person could. Rachel kept saying that without an engagement there was no guarantee of commitment and while I understand the inclination to believe such a thing, the truth is engagement isn’t a guarantee either. Nor is a marriage, because surprise: “guarantees” don’t exist in this life. I know, I’m mad about it too, but all we have is a person’s words and their actions, and Peter was ready to rock till the end. Sure it wasn’t the timeline she wanted, and there was a deep fear of repeating old patterns, but again, what would have happened had she let go of the timeline in her hand and let things unfold naturally?
Listen. This may surprise some of you, but I don’t know Rachel personally. I don’t know what she was thinking (not in the sassy way, in the true way), and since it is her decision we have to believe that it was the best thi—LOL I’m sorry, I’m really trying to keep a straight face here, but BRYAN?! Hahahahaha GIRL. Okay okay let me get myself together. *AHEM* Like I was saying, maybeeeeeee her and Bryan really do have a solid relationship or something. I don’t know him or Peter either, and I kind of think the whole premise of The Bachelor is a sham. It takes real people and turns them into two-dimensional characters with two-bit soundbites to be consumed en masse, but now I'm getting too deep into my analysis of the franchise as a whole. Point is, I don't know these people so I speak of them like they're characters because that's what The Bachelor reduces it's contestants to, but have no idea what their full stories entail.
I also want to mention that it’s a LOT easier to point at someone else’s life, especially on television, and draw conclusions like this than it is to live it out in real time. I will be the first to say this entire post is the pot calling the kettle black as I continue to wrestle with #LettingGo. And again, maybe there were things at play in Rachel’s relationships that we didn’t see. Can’t speak to that, I more so just wanted to look at the events of the finale and see what advice I could pull out and then ignore in my own life. Mission accomplished I think. Anyway, see you guys next week for Bachelor in Paradise!
*Update: An earlier version of this post incorrectly spelled the character of "Gollum"'s name. The name has been changed to reflect how much I care about accuracy and how little I care about Lord of the Rings.