My Journey to Romantic Love

Image source: Jasmine Liu

For most of my life, I’ve had baby crushes. That is, I’ve admired people from afar and stayed as far away from them as possible. Why? Because it’s safe. You get the best of both worlds! No rejection, and the romance of wondering what could be was enough. I would make up fantasy scenarios in my head and admire them from a distance so that it almost felt real. I would even get heartbroken amidst the show I’d put on in my head. My baby crush would get a girlfriend and I’d sigh, then move on. Silly younger me didn’t see the flaws in my thought process at that time.

I’m not sure what made me so afraid to talk to guys I was attracted to in my adolescent years, but it kept going till well into my college years. In middle school it was cute. There was no need to date as a 12-year old. In high school, the excuse became “Not interested, they’re hot but I don’t need boys.” I could talk to guys, but the second I became a little fancied by their presence, I’d shut down anytime I’d see them again. I remember this one guy I had “liked”: I had a couple conversations with him as someone and once I realized my feelings for him, I scurried away and never spoke to him again. Although I don’t necessarily regret this–I was definitely way too immature to date anyone at 16–I’m sure getting to know him would have helped me get out my shell. Developing connections with people will shape you into the person you are, so seizing every opportunity to get to know someone, romantic or not, can only do you good.

Coming into college, I expected to start dating right away. But I didn’t recognize the flaw in just expecting things to spontaneously happen. I didn’t recognize that no one was going to get to know me if I wasn’t willing to reciprocate.

Fast forward to this year: I’m a much more confident, excited, and an open version of myself. I have amazing friends, I’m loving life, and I’m eager to learn. This sweet guy started talking to me and I really thought nothing of it. As a young 20-year-old, I figured dating was just not for me, at least not at the time. So all I thought of this guy was that he was a nice guy. We quickly became friends as I felt this certain energy with him that made conversing so interesting yet effortless. Although we often had silly banter, I was able to dive deep with him on life, people, and why things happen the way they do. I loved watching our friendship unfold.

As a few weeks went by, I realized I liked this guy… and not in a juvenile way. But when things changed and I felt him slipping away all of a sudden, I found myself holding on for dear life.

The magic of this experience was me realizing what love is for the first time ever. No, I don’t love him. But I’ve also never felt for someone as deeply as I do for him. These were things I’d never felt before: the way music came to life when I was around him, how my heart would flutter as I saw him playfully skip to me, and, of course, the way I’d miss him when he wasn’t around.

Even though things didn’t work out, realizing that I can have such raw and true feelings for someone feels as fresh as a new adventure. And to be honest, that’s all I really needed. Now, I know that there’s a whole world out there for me to truly explore.