If you follow my articles or know me in real life, you know just how much I adore romance. I grew up on chick-flick movies and cute love stories, all of which, of course, led me to believe that love will save the world — or some cheesy nonsense like that. As it goes, I spent most of my life believing every boy I ever liked was The One. I could be as reckless as I wanted because my knight in shining armor would be just around the corner to catch me. I was a damsel in distress.
When you grow up with this sort of mentality, you set yourself up for disappointment after disappointment. Much to my embarrassment and humiliation today, I was what you could call "boy crazy" for most of my childhood. I was the naive schoolgirl who daydreamed about her crush's eyes and doodled his name in a heart.
I had a "boyfriend" in second grade and got "married" to him in third. I must have liked nearly every boy I talked to in middle school and even crushed on some I never talked to. When I eventually dated someone in high school, I let my whole world revolve around him. I believed that having one true love was better than any number of friends.
Long story short, I based my happiness on how well things were going with whatever guy I liked at the time — stupid and naive, I know. I didn't realize how lonely this made me feel inside until much later, unfortunately. Your person, or soulmate if you believe in that sort of thing, is exactly that — one person. If he or she is all you rely on, your world becomes drastically smaller. You only see life through the eyes of one other person, and as much as you love someone, sometimes you just need a break from them. When I dated that boy, he was just about the only person I hung out with outside of school. Every moment I could spend with him I did, and no, his love did not complete me or whatever I hoped it would do.
It wasn't until I hit college that my way of thinking changed. I always blamed my anxiety on my inability to make friends as easily as other people do, but now I realize it was just me not putting in the effort. At college, everyone was a stranger, and I didn't realize how badly I wanted to make a friend until I watched everyone make friends around me. So I eventually joined my beloved Buddhist fraternity, Delta Beta Tau, and made those beautiful friends that I will never stop adoring. I still hoped love would come, but now I had a whole group of people to fall back on.
The real tipping point of my change in philosophy came this summer, though. I remember sitting on my couch one night just in awe of how much love platonic love I could have for people, and how excited I was to visit them. Thanks to college, I have friends all up and down California and across the country. Unlike with any boy I liked, spending time with them is always carefree and easy. I thought I felt happiest dating someone, but that's because my whole life was centered around him. Once I switched to focusing on growing friendships in college rather than love, I discovered how pure and wonderful friendship really is.
With friends, I get that same level of adoration and support I would in a relationship but on a much larger scale and, get this, with less drama. I can love and hug as many people as I want, and I have people, my people, with me wherever I travel. Sure, having The One would be cool, too, but I'd much rather spread my love among hundreds of people than narrow it down to one.