Throughout high school, the cool thing was to be indifferent and cynical, especially when it came to romance and feelings. Love? Overrated.
We would roll our eyes at couples that were gushy and emotional, go into any new relationships with a realistic sense of self, and complain to our friends about excessive PDA when people so much as held hands in the hall. Maybe it was our way of marking ourselves as headstrong or realistic, but it was actually a form of repressing ourselves and our emotions.
Imagine how complicated it was for me when I started dating a boy in high school, and it felt real, very quickly. My plans to be cool, calm, collected were no match for my heart. I understood that a lot of my deep feelings could be attributed to puberty and a rush of hormones, but there was something that felt authentic from day one.
As soon as I started to experience love, I slowly let go of my conditioning. And let’s be honest: I wasn’t skeptical about love before high school. I watched rom-coms and wrote love letters to imaginary characters (always the fiction lover) and dreamed about love scenarios as often as I did about having a kick-ass career and being a powerful woman.
I wasn’t meant to be as cynical and critical as I’d become, but it came with the same territory as “I prefer to hang out with guys — they’re less drama,” “popular music isn’t good music,” or “girls are mean,” which most of us also bought into.
Typical high school elitism.
There were ideas that sounded right and smart, and so we mixed them into our teenage wisdom.
When I allowed love into my life, unguarded and authentic, everything changed. My mind opened a little wider. The silly rules and expectations I’d been carried dissolved. I felt the weight lifted, which gave me a little more room for acceptance. And now, I’m a huge advocate for feeling, completely.
Here’s my truth, today and always: I love love.
Originally posted in the February 2016 edition of the CU Denver Sentry.
Love is in the air. Embrace it, enjoy it, roll around in it.
If you’d ever like to see what passionate indignation looks like, taunt me with your Valentine’s Day renditions of doubt. Say that true love doesn’t exist, or that romantic love simply doesn’t last.
Here’s a better alternative: if you’d like to experience lasting happiness and joy, expand your mind and open your heart to the notion of boundless love.
I consider myself fortunate. True romantic love was always visible and tangible. Throughout my life I have witnessed the intense and authentic adoration of my parents. Those two have side-stepped outgrowing their connection to one another over the past 30 years. They’ve shown me what withstanding companionship can be. I’m better for it, without a doubt.
I believe in romantic love as wholeheartedly as I believe in any physical truths or concepts. It’s been a common theme through my life. I watched my parents hold hands in public, kiss upon arriving home, and end each departure with an “I love you.”
Day to Day
I also see these themes within my own relationship. Intimacy, closeness, small moments of connection. While the cultural presence of amorousness and courtship has molded my status as a hopeless romantic, my own experiences have fed the fire.
Although the real deal may not be quite as extravagant—I’ve never gotten been serenaded with a giant stereo under my window, or received dozens of roses—it’s more satisfying and worthwhile than any media can portray.
Sometimes there’s hurt, fear, and fighting. Yet you learn that if you can work through the hurt, there’s solace. If you can see beyond the fear, there’s possibility of a grander future. And if you can fight, not just to argue, but to contest for each other and to maintain what you’ve worked so hard for—you can both emerge victorious.
Love is something essential to happiness, whether it inhibits friendship, family, occupation, or amorous connection. It’s vital. I love my family, my dearest friends, and this newspaper.
On Valentine’s Day, and the other 365 days of this calendar year, I’ll be loving my partner, and cherishing our own lengthy dose of true, romantic love.