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I had spent months trying to figure out the ropes of the “single life”, something I hadn’t experienced since coming to college. Initially, I thought my breakup meant I had to immediately find a new boy in my life, but I quickly learned today’s college hookup scene wasn’t exactly something I fit in to. I couldn’t find a way to reconcile the college lifestyle with my own personal values, and there were points where I felt like I wasn’t normal. As a girl who had spent roughly 8 months single in a matter of 7 years, an incurable romantic in true Anastasia Steele fashion, I couldn’t adapt. I constantly felt like the void left by the guy I loved was growing, and I felt completely alone.
It was an article with a long Oprah Winfrey quote and truthfully I don’t remember what the whole quote said, or if the line that struck me was even the main point, but it read:
5 Tips For Staying Sane at the End of the Semester
8 Easy Steps to Maintain a Healthy Relationship
That one line was all it took for me to realize a major facet of my life I’d been overlooking for months. I was surrounded by love, and I was far from alone.
I’m not sure what it was, blame an addiction to romcoms and sappy books about unlikely relationships that trump all of life’s problems in the name of love, but I realized that for years I had conditioned myself to measure love only in its romantic form. I had neglected to realize just how much nonromantic love filled my life and just how much that nonromantic love was truly worth.
In the following months I was able to sit back and evaluate all of the different love I experienced every day. I looked at the solid relationships I’d established with my sorority sisters. I thought about the best friends who never failed to accompany me on a 2 a.m. McDonalds run or to answer a 3 a.m. text. I thought about Professors who supported me and, having an idea of what I was dealing with, encouraged me to be amazing and “make them regret the day they let you go”. My mom who does literally everything for me. My dad who, despite never showing real emotion, never forgets to say “I love you” when he hangs up the phone. I thought about my dog who, even with two dysfunctional kneecaps, always manages to jump up into my arms and greet me at the door. I thought about the 10-year-old brother who sleeps in my bed every night and would literally defend me to his death.
These were just some of the examples of love in my life, and once I was able to acknowledge how many wonderful people I had supporting me I was, for the first time, able to recognize that I didn’t need romantic love for validation. I learned that there are all different kinds of love to seek out, and I found that the ones I had neglected were far more rewarding than any romantic love I’d ever known.
The ones who don’t just love you because they have to. I can honestly say there are times that my family drives me crazy. My mom loves to pick fights, my dad’s stubborn, and, while I couldn’t imagine life without him now, when eleven-year-old me found out she was going to have a little brother it’s safe to say she was less than thrilled (like, FAR less). All that aside, I can’t name a single moment in my life my mother didn’t drop everything to make me feel better or a second where my dad didn’t support me. Family are often the ones we neglect to tell we love the most, primarily because we just know they’ll always be there. Take a moment to appreciate how awesome it is that you can always go to your mom to let you cry when you need to with no questions asked, even if she “told you so”.
The first experience of a “soulmate” we’ll ever have. I’m blessed enough to live in a sorority house with 60+ of my best friends. No we don’t always get along, and yes sometime we borrow each other’s clothes and forget to give them back, but these are girls I wouldn’t trade for the world. My best friend is the whole reason I’m writing this article now, and she was the push I needed to gain a perspective that meant changing how I see myself and my idea of what it means to be in love. They tend to know you better than you know yourself and that’s exactly why sometimes, your best friends are the soulmates you truly need. They’re the ones who will tell you like it is, but still be there to shovel spoonfuls of Ben & Jerry’s “Half Baked” into their mouths with you when you didn’t take their advice anyway.
I’m pretty sure this is a no-brainer. Whether you’re a cat person, a dog person, or one of those people who enjoys keeping reptiles in your home, these creatures are dependent on you. Whether you realize it or not they literally give you their entire world and return any love you give them ten-fold. It’s the kind of loyalty you’ll never find in any human. I can always count on my Pomeranian, Bentley, for a much needed cuddle session… so who really needs a boyfriend?
This one is huge. They always say “love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life”. There’s something to be said for someone who’s eyes light up with passion when they talk about what they do. Falling in love with your work only makes you better at it and yields a kind of payment and success no amount of money could ever buy and as the ever so intelligent Lady Gaga once told Cosmo , “your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.”
This is inarguably, undoubtedly the most important love on the list. After so much time of putting all of my love into another person, it took a long time to feel whole on my own again. It had been so long since I did something without wondering what his opinion might be. I finally learned what it felt like to do things for myself. I went to the gym and ran for ME, I dyed my hair a color I loved, I spent more time on my writing, I made new friends, I booked trips and did things without feeling like I needed someone’s approval. For the first time in a long time, I fell in love with myself and with my life, and with that, life seemed to love me right back.
All of that being said, I am still in love with love and quite frankly always will be, but I’ve learned that those beautiful forms of nonromantic love aren’t just rest stops on the way to a romantic relationship. They’re their own, different form of love that requires and deserves just as much, if not more, attention than any romantic love. So for those awaiting Mr. or Mrs. Right, take the time to know that romantic love will find you eventually and when it does it will be wonderful; but until then, fall in love with those who love you, with the work you do, and with yourself. I promise it will be worth it.