Once upon a time, I used to believe in love. That’s not to say I don’t now. It’s just that I’ve come to believe there’s a difference between the idea of love and the practicality of it all.
We live in a culture of hookups, slampieces, and drunken one-night stands. We feed off of the negative relationships we see in the media. Don’t believe me? Name five celebrity couples that have been together longer than ten years. Now name five celebrities couples that have broken up. See? We live in a country where the divorce rate is between 40 and 50 percent, and yet we’re supposed to believe that we’ll all miraculously get our “happily ever after”? Sorry, but I’m gonna have to call bullshit on that one.
News flash: “Happily ever after” doesn’t exist. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely true stories out there about the girl next door who falls head over heels for the boy from the wrong side of the tracks and blah, blah, blah. We’ve heard it a million times before. Hell, we see it every time we turn on the television, go to the movies, or log onto Facebook. But what happens after that? Does some fairy godmother swoop in and suddenly make everything perfect? Uh, no, not so much. Love takes work. Every day.
The thing is, I used to believe that I was in love. I started college with the person I thought I would be spending the rest of my life with. You might dismiss me, call me young and stupid (and honestly, looking back now, I agree) but at the time, it was how I truly felt. Now, three and a half years later, it’s a lot easier for me to see how flawed that viewpoint was. What can I say? I guess hindsight really is 20/20.
Throughout the course of my freshman year, we more or less drove each other crazy. He constantly lied to me and became way too possessive. I would retreat and hide from his judgement. He’d say all I cared about was my sorority and hanging out with my new friends, and I thought he wasn’t giving me enough space. The truth is, we both had a lot of growing up to do. Could we have done our growing up together? Maybe, but one of us probably would have ended up behind bars.
I started sophomore year off as a newly single girl. I went out more nights than I stayed in, cried to my sisters at 3 a.m., and attained a scar on my knee after walking home alone, drunk and upset one night. “Hot mess” didn’t even begin to cover it. But I was determined to make sure I wouldn’t get hurt again — both my heart and my knees.
So I became a cynic. When I would start talking to a guy, I convinced myself that he was only after one thing. Time and time again, I was proved right. I put up a wall to keep people out. Each time a boy disappointed me, I would say that I didn’t care about him and would just go paint my nails as black as my heart. That cynicism has stayed with me.
It’s been two and a half years since that wall went up. And day by day, brick by brick, with the help of my friends, it’s starting to come down. Well, more like chip by chip, but baby steps, people. And when it’s gone, there I’ll be standing, ready and guarded — but rightfully so. We can’t go out into the world expecting to be handed love without working at it. Dreams are great and all, but we have to be realistic. I love a good Cinderella story as much as the next girl, but it’s just that: a story. So maybe I’m not a cynic. Call me a realist. Love can exist, but not in the form we once thought. It’s not about a fairytale ending or a lifetime of happiness. It’s about finding someone who becomes your partner, your confidante, who accepts you for who you are, scars included. Every time I look down at my knee, I remember that our scars are just reminders of where we’ve been and signs of how much farther we have to go..