I think a lot about love. I know that’s not entirely unique or revelatory to say, but it’s the simple truth. I think about the people I’ve loved, things that went wrong, things that went right. I pick apart love, try to dissect it. I hold onto it. I let it go. I feel it crawling back up my throat when I was positive it had disappeared from my body. Love has not always been easy to understand, but there’s one thing I strongly believe about it: soul mates are nonexistent.
I was plagued with this idea of finding a soul mate in high school. I didn’t need to be. I could have been thinking about my history exam, or bullshit things like a Forever 21 sale. Anything. But instead, I fixated on love. It seemed like this holy grail thing everyone was after, but none of us knew what the fuck we were doing. Just kids. Kids making out in the backs of cars and throwing around words like love. We’d whisper promises that could never hold up in the daylight, confusing attraction with something unconditional. A soul mate who was supposed to stick around. But the thing is, most things don’t stick at 16.
I still don’t know a lot about love. I do know that it can change. It transforms, takes on new structures. The love you described one way for so long could suddenly look drastically different. Sometimes, love is not pretty and packaged like we’re made to believe. It isn’t this perfect star-crossed soul mate waiting to fit perfectly into your jigsaw life. The potential for a soul mate lies in so many people. Isn’t that so much more romantic? Maybe anyone could be your soul mate. Maybe everybody is your soul mate.
We’re so often afraid of actually working on things. We like manuals and guides. We want Google answers that will point us in the correct direction. We read lists. We make lists. We falsely believe if we carve out this perfect partner on paper, the universe will deliver. The universe has to deliver. If there really is only one out there, we have to find them. We have to, right? That’s a terrifying thought when 7 billion fish are swimming around in this gigantic ocean and you are only expected to find one. This soul mate who understands you. Someone who loves you. This person who kisses you in the back seat of your car and remains forever unconditional.
I have seen a glimpse of a soul mate in every person I’ve loved. I’ve had moments of “maybe forever” followed by some “not forever.” Maybe that’s what we need to remember. Love isn’t black and white. It’s grey (someone make a 50 Shades joke so I don’t have to). It has darkness. It has light. You work. You get mad and upset, reevaluate if this specific love is worth it. You decide it is, and you work. You try and it doesn’t fit. You move onto the next puzzle piece. And maybe you realize nobody is cut to perfectly fit. But someone will be worth the edges. Maybe even lots of somebodies.
A soul mate shouldn’t be this magical be-all and end-all. A soul mate is really just an idea, not even a person. The person you choose is not your soul mate because of some cosmic fate, but rather, because you have chosen each other. And you work to keep choosing each other. You wake up and continue choosing one another. You keep working. And that is the most powerful thing two people can do.