On being a (former) relationship pessimist

Emma Tanner, News Editor

I have always been a look-to-the-future person. Five-year plans and long-term goals are second nature to me. That being said, I have also been independent to a fault. I kept my walls high and feared anyone coming to peer over them. The only thing I didn’t view through a long-term lens was relationships.

I have had my fair share of past relationships. Most of them were of the melodramatic and fleeting high school variety… or in elementary school. What I’m trying to say is that, before college, I never had a real relationship. Not the kind you hear songs or watch movies about. I was always told that high school relationships never last, so I assumed mine would eventually implode. Either I was right or I found ways to sabotage them for myself. I had conditioned myself to think that love was overrated. That the endless poems I read were full of it.

“This won’t last” was almost a mantra to me.

High school Emma was a pessimist.

Annoyingly so.

In my second week of college, I unexpectedly met someone. It was like the stars had aligned or I was finally dealt a royal flush. I found it extremely easy to talk to her. Conversations weren’t forced and no awkward silence could be found. It occurred to me all too quickly that this felt different from all of the past relationships I had. I wasn’t forcing myself to be with her because I thought that if I tried hard enough it would work. I didn’t have to try to make it work because it already did. It was like I had found some missing puzzle piece that my brain didn’t have before. It was both exhilarating and terrifying.

Imagine listening to your favorite song for the first time again. That’s what my whole world felt like. I understood the near-drunk feeling of adoration. I binge listened to Taylor Swift’s entire “Lover” album. I watched corny rom-coms. I did something I have never done before — I fell hard.

I knew it was something real when my mother told me that she had “never seen me like this with someone before.” I couldn’t deny it. With a  smile, I agreed and got that giddy feeling all over again. It was a running joke in my family that I was a little too harsh on people when it came to romance. One slip up and someone could be out of my life for good. Hearing my mom say that this one was different was all the confirmation I needed to prove that my pessimism had been washed away and replaced with unfamiliar optimism. I have probably annoyed my friends with how often I try to bring her up. Yes, I have become that person. My fifteen-year-old self would roll her eyes and call me idiotic for being so optimistic. Luckily, I couldn’t care less what my younger self would think of me. I’m proud of it. I would much rather be happy than cynical. Happy is a good look on me.

Maybe my pessimism came from the fact that I had a bad high school experience. I was a chronically lonely kid. To be fair, I had friends here and there but none ever stuck around long enough to actually know me. In high school, I found myself fearful of making connections because I had told myself from a young age that people just… leave.

In college, I decided I wanted to open up more. I wanted to shed my high school fears and become what I knew I could be. I joined a few on-campus organizations, made friends and decided that connections aren’t inherently bad. The people who leave my life leave for a reason. They have fulfilled their purpose in my life, and I couldn’t be mad at things beyond my control.

I like to consider myself a former relationship pessimist. Not just with romantic connections, but platonic ones too. The love I have to give isn’t bad. It won’t push the right people away.

To all of the people who relate a little too much to my younger self, I won’t get on a soapbox and say how wonderful love is. I know that isn’t the proper way to convince you. What I do want to say is that you are worthy of love. Not only from others but from yourself. Vulnerability isn’t bad. Trusting people isn’t bad. Sometimes you just need to find the person that makes doing all of those things easy.