As someone who has kept a diary since her boy-crazy, “Twilight”-enthused middle school years, I have always been a person keen on reflection. As my column and this semester come to a close, I thought I would reflect upon the things that have happened to me in the past year. From a bright-eyed and optimistic sophomore to a more-refined, better-read, slightly jaded junior, I have been through a lot in the past year.
Since the first semester of sophomore year, I have used my column in The Daily Free Press to reflect upon the changing dating culture and the usually funny personal anecdotes that come with putting myself on the front lines of millennial relationships. Slightly humorous, somewhat tragic scenes have permeated in my life, usually accompanied by zingy one-liners and lengthy backstories. I’ve been cheated on, broken up with, ghosted, rejected, ignored, tempted, teased and been put through some things I’m sure even Carrie Bradshaw herself could not have imagined. I have never let these things deter me, at least not for long.
This past year, and even this past semester, has taught me that the possibility of pain is worth putting yourself out there and making yourself vulnerable. That’s not to say that this process itself is easy, or that you’re not going to get hurt every time you put yourself out there. This is to say that even if things end or don’t go as you may have expected, we are usually able to learn something, and are able to pick ourselves up again. I don’t believe that a numeric value can be added to the human threshold for personal growth and resilience — we are always learning how to adapt, and in some required cases, how to self-preserve.
Something I believe that television shows capture, that only seems to intensify with the rise of emerging media, is the ability of your exes, or anyone for that matter, to re-enter our lives. Unless blocked, they have the potential to send a quick text, Snapchat or even Venmo request and suddenly the person resurfaces, bringing his story with him. If we lived in a vacuum, perhaps we would never have to acknowledge our exes, and we would be able to continue living our lives. This fantasy is not realistic, pontificated by the fact that I can run into my ex every time I walk down Commonwealth Avenue or leave my apartment to get to class. I am still learning how to deal with the resurgence of an ex, sometimes freaking out and sometimes taking it in stride. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that this is something I will learn to master anytime soon, but I am willing to learn from mistakes and experiences.
Another thing I have learned over this past year is the importance of relationships that aren’t always romantic. From the Tuesday phone call I have with my grandmother every week to the many texts to and from friends to check in on each other, I am always thinking about the nonromantic relationships in my life. Although I have never been in love, I love. I love my friends deeply and powerfully, and I hold a similar deep love for my family. Something I tend to forget when I feel alone is the love I hold and the love I am always surrounded by from my friends and relatives. I never feel truly alone when I remember my sorority sisters, my best friends and my family members are there to support me and help me to grow.
We are always growing, and hopefully always learning. The lessons that we learn sometimes aren’t always as obvious as the ones included at the end of an after-school special, and for some, it seems we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes until we learn that lesson. As with most things in life, dating and socializing are both processes. Most of doing both, I have learned, is a process of trial and error. We must wade through a lot of garbage to find the gold. I think that’s what makes the whole process worth it. Once you can put your finger on something you know you want, it makes the process much easier. You just have to remember to love when you can love, let go when you need to let go and learn every single step of the way.