All my life, I’ve been a hopeless romantic.
I remember watching the film Sommersby starring Richard Gere and Jodie Foster (look it up, it’s heartbreaking) as a nine-year-old and bawling at how beautiful Jack and Laurel’s love was. And from grade school all the way up to high school, I devoured romance pocketbooks, always feeling vicarious kilig whenever the clueless teen heroine would finally find out that the campus jock/the bad boy/the best friend had been head-over-heels in love with her all this time.
Then I got to college, and I had my first real boyfriend, and I was so happy to finally be in something that resembled all those things that up until that point I had only experienced secondhand through movies and songs and books. But I was too young to know better then, and I ended up breaking the guy’s heart. And then I met my next love, and this guy had a girlfriend, and I believed him when he said it was over with her. It was not the last lie he ever told me, and we eventually went our separate ways. And then I got into another relationship, and while in my gut I had a feeling he wasn’t as invested as I was, I stuck around. After a few years of doing just fine—at least, I thought we were fine—he fell in love with someone else. And then I met my last boyfriend, whom I thought was The One; I was so sure he was the one who would make me see why it never worked out with all the other men who came before. But guess what? That didn’t work out either.
In all these relationships, I had always tried to be the romantic hero, fiercely trusting that we could make it work even with so much evidence to the contrary.
I had always believed that, if we just tried hard enough to surpass our obstacles, love would fly in like a fairy godmother, wave its magic wand, and make everything shiny and new. And when it didn’t, when I was left crestfallen at how utterly wrong I was, I still held out hope that the next guy to come along would finally be The One, and because he was The One, he would never put me through all that hurt and disappointment again.
After a particularly terrible period of trying to get over my last relationship, I began to ask myself, why was I giving romance so much power over me?
Why, even as I was rendered heartbroken after each failed relationship, did I still foolishly take comfort in the hope of a fresh, new, untainted romance to make things better? I had made romantic love the be all and end all of my existence, as if life would not be worth living without it, as if even just the chance that it would happen to me again would make my life infinitely happier. Don’t get me wrong; love is wonderful, and exciting, and I won’t deny how great it feels when it’s working and there’s no fighting and everything’s just right. But I have always made it a personal goal, as if I just had to have it in my life, as if it were imperative that I should be one of those people lucky enough to find extraordinary, everlasting, fireworks-filled love in their lifetime.
Maybe I’m not one of those people, and that’s a possibility I’m only admitting to myself now.
Maybe, despite all my romantic ideals, I might not even meet The One, let alone end up with him. And maybe that’s okay.
What I wish for myself this Valentine’s Day is that I become just that: okay. Okay being on my own, okay with having no one, okay with the probability that I won’t ever have that kind of love, no matter how many inspiring quotes and Facebook memes and well-meaning friends tell me that I’ll eventually find it and everything will just fall into place.
I wish, now, to turn off that part of me that forces romance to happen, even when all signs point to it being a trainwreck.
I wish, now, to be able to go out as a single girl without hoping that tonight will be the night, tonight will be when I finally meet The One who will make all the previous ones pale in comparison. I wish, now, to just be, and be okay with that.
As I celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, I’m going to do it with friends, people who have no romantic potential to offer me whatsoever. I will silence the wistful feelings I have for my last ex, I will not keep an eye out for someone new, and I will live in the moment, not constantly wondering what my romantic future holds.
It will be hard; I will have to undo years of believing that love is all, love is all.
But I will try. I will find myself beautiful and interesting and funny and sexy, I will fall in love with myself the way a lover loves a new love, and I will be enough..