I am a soft and sentimental person. I keep a "happy jar" of my favorite moments. I press flowers. I read romance novel after romance novel and write twice as many love poems. I have daydreamed about my wedding more times than I like to admit, and I practically live off of romance quotes. Simply put, I love love.
Yes, this makes me naive, but it also makes me happy. I am a person who values intimacy, and when I view life this way, my world becomes a little brighter. I may have given up on soulmates long ago, but I still believe we each have a person — someone who may not be a perfect fit but still compliment us in the best way possible. Someone who helps us become better versions of ourselves.
That is what gives me strength when things become heavy. I remember that the happiest moments of my life, the times where I am swept-off-my-feet in love, are yet to come. I think about the dates, the promises, the laughs, the lazy Sunday mornings — I think about all of these pure moments I have yet to experience, and the heaviness lifts.
Unfortunately, some people are not so understanding of this perspective. I wholeheartedly consider myself a feminist, but when I confessed my romantic dreams to a friend, she held nothing but contempt for me. How could I possibly support women's rights if I'm waiting for a boy to sweep me off my feet? Why would I let a man steal my power?
Here's the thing: I can be a feminist and still daydream about that head-over-heels type of romance.
I am not any less empowered because I want the guy to make the first move.
I am not any less of a woman because I want him to open car doors and plan romantic dates.
I am not any less of a person for wanting that innocent kind of love where chivalry thrives and loyalty reigns important.
Falling in love is one of the most vulnerable acts of trust. It is not giving away your power to someone but rather intertwining your values, hopes, and dreams with another. It is holding each other up together, succeeding together, failing together. It is trusting them to respect and cherish you in all your raw vulnerability and doing the same for them.
Telling somebody they're "yours" is not inherently evil. Of course, it can be misused as such, but in most cases, I believe it's a sign of loyalty and adoration. If a boy tells me "you're mine," he cannot take my power because I know the true intent behind these words.
It is not the toxic possessiveness all too common in abusive relationships but rather a proud declaration that yes, this is my person, and I am so lucky to have them. If worst comes to worst and he turns demeaning, I have enough strength and respect for myself to walk away.
So yes, I will continue to call myself a feminist and daydream about love just the same. I will squeal over every bouquet of roses, save every love letter and cherish every special moment with him. I will love someone with every piece of me and still be the empowered woman I am. I am not letting a man become my reason for breathing; I am just happily sharing my life with him.