Hopeless Romantic

          The first time I was labeled a hopeless romantic, I think I was in the eighth grade and had just cried helplessly over the fact that Jo and Laurie didn't get together after all. On field trips, I would wander off to explore the random crack in the wall of this museum or that landmark, my imagination taking me down a million different roads of possibility of the possible secret garden lying beyond it, or the giant whose steps might have caused it. I loved using big words because it made me feel closer to my darling Anne-with-an-E Shirley, and would write "whilst" in my papers since I read so many British novels.

            Even through high school, I constantly sang because all those Disney princesses sang, and there was already such music in my heart, why not let it out during all hours of the day? I grew my hair out long and curly, would dance in place, spend hours pouring my heart into reading and writing, letting fictional characters replace any intimacy that my life lacked. There was absolute joy found in the simple things of life, and I believed with every bone in my body that soon enough, my own prince would come and my life would transform into a romantic tale of its own.

            Then, something happened. Neverland was blown away by anxieties, responsibilities, and the insistence of the world that I must "grow up." In a world that insists on being tolerant and accepting everyone, it's funny how much oddities like myself are scorned and hammered into conformity. If we must express strong emotion, it should reflect that of the masses around us.

            Bit by bit, the world has chipped parts of me away. I find my days center around someone else's idea of what it means to grow up. I wake, fulfill my responsibilities, laugh at the jokes I'm supposed to find funny and pretend not to care about anything too intensely, because having passion is just "too much."

            Why, though? If God made us all unique, why are we all so determined to hammer each other back down into the collective ideal? Why must I water myself down so other people can tolerate or handle me?

            I've been buying into a lie, and maybe we all have been. Without even making a conscious decision, I've become such a hardened individual who has succumbed to the beige parade of life; sometimes I don't recognize myself. When did I stop dreaming of a vibrant future and resign myself to a small life, saying this is it?

            I always knew I was made to live a big, colorful, meaningful life, but somewhere in the past year or two, I've forgotten that fact. No longer.

            What would happen, if we all reclaimed our romance? If we stopped laying down every time life beat us, and started looking for new routes or finding joy and pleasure in the small things?

            I'm ready to experiment. I miss that funny, emotional, joyful, and sometimes ridiculous girl who would sigh over a good love story or a perfect sunset and who still sort of believed in faeries. I think she's been waiting to be found again from that place deep inside of me, where she's been locked down. She's tired of listening to me judge others and stress out over every part of life.

            She's ready to fly. And I'm ready to let her.

            She is not "too much" for me, or for those other few who were made to understand and love her through it all.  She isn't "too much" for the right man who will come one day, ready for anything she has to bring. She isn't "too much" to love.

            I am not "too much" to love, and I'm reclaiming romance. Here I am, hopeless romantic and proud of it! I believe that there is genuine good and beauty in this world and in each person, that some type of magic exists even if it isn't the type found in children's story books, and I believe that I can have a brilliant existence.

            I'm ready to dream again.

Illustration by  Kaitlin Rose Slattery

Illustration by Kaitlin Rose Slattery