Today’s guest post is by Chelsea Tirrell, a girl who isn’t afraid to put her heart out onto the Internet — take it or leave it. I first found Chelsea through She’s The First, one of the first nonprofits to wholly hook my heart. Every time I read her blog, I feel like I’ve opened the middle of a novel and just started in on it. She also tweets, ‘case you were wondering.
“Girls are taught a lot of stuff growing up. If a guy punches you he likes you. Never try to trim your own bangs and someday you will meet a wonderful guy and get your very own happy ending. Every movie we see, every story we’re told implores us to wait for it, the third act twist, the unexpected declaration of love, the exception to the rule. But sometimes we’re so focused on finding our happy ending we don’t learn how to read the signs. How to tell from the ones who want us and the ones who don’t, the ones who will stay and the ones who will leave. And maybe a happy ending doesn’t include a guy, maybe… it’s you, on your own, picking up the pieces and starting over, freeing yourself up for something better in the future. Maybe the happy ending is… just… moving on. Or maybe the happy ending is this, knowing after all the unreturned phone calls, broken-hearts, through the blunders and misread signals, through all the pain and embarrassment you never gave up hope.”
After all of the romantic comedies I’ve seen. After all of the romance novels I’ve read. After all of the fairytales I’ve swooned over. After all of the reality and drama TV shows I’ve watched. After all of the relationship articles I’ve read in trendy magazines. There has never been a more true and trying quote than the one above.
“He’s Just Not That Into You” nailed every emotion I’ve ever felt, every reality I’ve ever faced, and every ounce of honesty I’ve ever needed.
It’s true; girls are taught a lot of stuff growing up. From the age of fairytales when we’re taught that a chivalrous prince in shining armor is meant to come and save us to the age of preschool when we’re taught that if he throws sand at you, he’s flirting, we’re given the wrong message.
Why aren’t there tales about Cinderella, who finds her own glass slipper and escapes her wretched family on her own will? Why are we taught to ignore the good guys making us crafts in preschool? Why can’t we accept their generosity instead of being taught at such a young age that rudeness is the key to a flourishing relationship?
Maybe it’s because we’re young and naïve that we believe these things. Maybe we just don’t know any better. But as time goes on and we do, in fact, get older, we have to face the facts that we’re still buying into the nonsense. Every aspect of the media tells us what our happy ending needs to be. No movie is complete without a couple happily together, no article is well-researched unless it tells you how to perfect your relationship, no story is a captivating one if it doesn’t include some heart-stopping romance.
We’re unintentionally taught that we need a man to be happy.
And I have to admit: I’m no different than any of you. I fell for it too. I still fall for it. But it’s these unattainable realities that have broken my past relationships and put a strain on my current one.
I still remember the first time I was denied. I slid over to a boy, Nico, in the first grade and gave him a kiss on the cheek. Almost immediately, he moved away. He didn’t want me but I didn’t give up. I thought his rejection was a signal that I should try harder. But that only ended in a heartbreak. It always does.
When middle school came along, I struggled with the same thing. You were cool if you had a boyfriend. I was happy with my two-week long romances and overjoyed when boys would ask me to dance. But it also led me to desperation. I would ask one boy out, he’d say no. I’d ask another, he’d say no too. This trend continued and continued until it finally shot my confidence into the ground.
How could this be happening? I thought when they were mean it meant they liked me? That wasn’t the case. Still, I wanted the jerk. The jerk was the one everyone wanted.
High school was a bit better but only because I met a guy who saw beyond my desperation, my awkward puberty stage, and my infatuation with finding love. His name was Ryan.
He sat through countless conversations with me as I ranted about how badly I wanted a relationship. He heard all about my passionate crushes and how I thought they’d last forever. He listened when I was sulking after every heartbreak.
And then there came a day when both he and I had enough. I was tired of being hurt, he was tired of my complaining. And he told me something that I never forgot, “You’re going to get older and you’re going to come into yourself. You’re going to figure out who you are and everyone is going to start chasing after you. You need to give yourself confidence.”
Little did I know, he’d be right.
Ryan and I tried the “relationship” thing out but it didn’t work. For once, though, I wasn’t torn up about it. It just seemed right that we parted ways. He went to college, I went to college and just like he said, everything fell into place.
I didn’t want every guy I laid eyes upon but I fell, and I fell hard, for Andrew. He was everything I wanted in guy. He was older, smart, involved, good-looking, sweet, caring. He also had a girlfriend.
I respected that at first but after hearing him rant about how unhappy he was in his relationship, I took the opportunity to make my move. It seemed to be working in my favor. Eventually, him and his girlfriend broke up and it seemed like we were on our way to something.
Finally, I told myself. Finally, I found a guy who wants me. My years of desperation are over.
That was short lived. Andrew lied to me. Andrew wasn’t who I thought he was. He hadn’t broken up with his girlfriend, he was still with her. And he wasn’t just seeing her and me at the same time — he was also seeing two other girls. Maybe more.
There wasn’t any heartbreak like it.
But that didn’t stop me. I was determined to cut him out of my life and move on to someone better. I was still in love with love and was determined to find someone who wouldn’t play me like he had.
We were friends before anything and usually, they tell you, that’s how the best relationships start. I was ready for this. A sweet, passionate, different guy who was so determined to have me. I gave him my love.
Just three months later, he shattered it.
Jay was my first real boyfriend. I was so excited to shout it out to the world, to let everyone know that I was no longer the single girl everyone expected me to be. I’d found something special. I was humiliated when I had to retract all of that happiness when he broke up with me out of nowhere. I thought we were happy. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
When you’re young, everything feels like the end of the world. I was 20 so naturally, I thought my dating life was over. I’d seen nothing but heartbreak, rejection, and people deciding that there was always someone better than I was.
Somehow, despite all that, I was still determined that I was meant for love. There was no way that someone with the capacity as large as mine to love would be left in this world without it. I was hurting but for me, my happy ending wasn’t knowing that I still had the chance to find love. My happy ending was exactly what the quote read. It was knowing that despite the break-ups, the over-thinking, the lost confidence, the hours of crying, the moments of thinking you’re unworthy, and the notion that you’ll be alone forever, I still believed in love.
I wasn’t bitter or angry for what they’d done to me. I wasn’t going around, saying I was single and loving every second of it. I didn’t swear off men. I kept my heart open and not once was I ashamed that I loved love.
And maybe that belief – that love exists despite every messy minute of relationships – is what led me to Louis.
When I met him, I didn’t know if I was ready for another relationship. I didn’t know if he was worthy of loving someone like me. I didn’t know if I wanted to give him a chance. But Louis did something that no other guy did – he stuck with me. He didn’t give up until I understood that he wasn’t like everyone else. He didn’t let me look past him just because he was a nice guy. He fought for me. And after months and months of uncertainty, I gave that patient boy what he was waiting for: my heart.
Almost a year has gone by since we had our first night together. It’s been about nine months since we’ve “officially” been together. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.
It’s not something that came out of nowhere, though. We need our past relationships to teach us, to make us stronger, to remind us of who we were and who we are now.
It took me a while to realize that I was partially responsible for my break-ups. It wasn’t just the guys’ fault. It takes two. My problem? I was trying too hard to be perfect.
I wanted the magazine relationship. I wanted the movie romance. I wanted the novel love. I expected my man to be a certain way. I wanted him to be exactly like the cardboard cutout we’re told to expect. I got angry when I didn’t have that. I was busy being someone I wasn’t to fit the mold of a perfect girlfriend. But that sort of mentality really breaks you.
I’ve weaned myself off of magazines. I’ve come to terms with the term “fiction.” And though I’m still a sucker for a good Nicholas Sparks’ film, I’ve learned to look at the films from a different point of view: Their love is the way it is because it suits them.
The moral of this post isn’t to scare you away from trying to be perfect. It isn’t to tell you that there is love after hurt. It isn’t to try and convince you that I’m an expert in love just because it’s consumed me.
While all of those things may reign true, what’s most important for you to take from all of this is to believe. Don’t let anyone – an ex, a best friend, a family member, a teacher, a boss – tell you to stop looking for love. Don’t let them tell you that you’re pathetic or desperate. Don’t let anyone change your mind or discourage you.
It’s hard, it’s work, it’s stress, it’s worry, it’s nerves, it’s anxiety, it’s uncertainty. But when you have it, and I mean when you really have it, there is nothing more amazing, more beautiful, more satisfying, more comforting, more wonderful, more spell-binding, more fairytale-romcom-romance novel-worthy than love.
Don’t ever lose your hope. Not for a second. Not when something like this is waiting for you. Everyone is worthy of it. Yes, even you.
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