I’ve never been the kind of person who does a lot of dating. I’ve only ever been in two serious relationships. For most of my life, I was quiet and awkward in crowds and way too scared to take chances. I didn’t put myself out there. At the same time, I was also obsessed with romance. I would look at people I passed on the sidewalk and imagine having the courage to talk to them. I had a dozen movies for reference—500 Days of Summer, He’s Just Not That Into You, Bride Wars, The Holiday. They all depict these perfect, serendipitous moments that spark the beginning of something more. I thought that was the way it was supposed to happen, so I was constantly looking for my own shot at it.
The problem is, those kinds of moments don’t happen when you’re waiting for them. They can’t. What makes those moments special is natural chemistry coming together. They happen when you take down your wall of what-ifs and just let things happen. If you’re looking at life like some kind of choice and consequence video game, you’re not going to notice the tiny details that actually make the biggest difference.
This is a lesson I’m still trying to teach myself.
I have a bad habit of romanticizing pretty much everything in my life. Sometimes I lose myself in the stories that I think up, and if life starts to mirror them at all, then I get attached. I think this is a big reason why I’ve spent time with people that I shouldn’t have, and why my last relationship lasted as long as it did. I fell in love with a story, and I altered myself to fit into the plot. All because I thought that being with someone, no matter who it was, was better than being on my own. For years, I’ve said that my worst fear was dying alone, but the idea of compromising myself and my dreams for someone that isn’t right for me is much scarier.
My opinion started changing after my move to a new city. I haven’t had to worry about anyone else out here; the decisions I make only have to be what is best for me. Now that I don’t really owe anyone a surplus of consideration, I’m starting to learn what actually is and isn’t good for me. Everything I do from this point on will affect who I’m going to be as a person; happiness is just as much about choice as it is about letting the chips fall where they may.
When I step back and actually think about it, I can’t remember the exact moment when the most important people in my life became the most important people in my life. It happened while no one was paying any attention because the pieces fell right into place without having to be guided. No amount of planning or plotting or dreaming could have engendered the exact same results. As long as you keep doing what makes you happy and continue to walk in the direction that makes the most sense for you, you will come across the right people.