Toward the end of last summer I was hanging out with one of my oldest friends. He had just finished moving, and I had been swamped with a summer internship, so we hadn’t seen each other for about a month.
We sat on his roof and knocked back a few beers as a late summer breeze messed up my hair. He had been making great progress at his job, and I had just scored my first major breakthrough at mine, so our attitude was celebratory.
After a few empty bottles had been discarded on the roof’s black tiles, he started talking about his relationship:
“Yeah man,” he said, “I think I really want to stay with her after graduation. We’ve talked about it, and that’s the thought for now.”
Under the spell of maybe one too many drinks, I walked home that night uncertain of my life and where I was going. All around me, my friends were finding significant others and building lives together. They were discovering what it meant to be a partner, what it meant to share special holidays, happiness, and love.
Meanwhile, I was just learning how to share my mozzarella sticks with another person.
It can be annoying after long periods of only cuddling yourself at night, and never having “that person” you can talk to. And it can absolutely be annoying when all your friends seem to have a great love life all put together. It can even be enough to make you start thinking you’re a complete failure at love.
But here’s the thing: We aren’t failures at love. Love isn’t something you can “fail” at. It is something you experience. And love ended isn’t a “failure” either, it is just one step closer to our ultimate destination. Love isn’t this static thing, and people in relationships aren’t the “winners” while we are the “losers,” — we are all just on different timetables.
Love isn’t a race. It isn’t about who can find it the fastest. There is no prize for speed. Yeah, it would be really awesome to find your soulmate today — believe me, I agree — but that’s not what it is about. It’s about the journey, it’s about the growth, it’s about the relationship — not the label.
Love isn’t about the glamour. It’s not about “having a boyfriend” and posting cute pics on Instagram and having some old high school friend comment, “OMG SO PRECIOUS.” Too often we are looking for the love that is retweetable, rather than the love that is real. Love is in the bad moments too, the things we don’t see in our BFF’s perfectly curated social media feed. Love isn’t something we should want to rush into, because it’s about finding someone who is worth being with, even on the days that aren’t so good.
And what’s kinda awesome is that love isn’t even about you, because it will be about another person too. That’s why finding the other person — not just “some” person — but “the” person is so important; and worth every agonizing second it takes.
We are not failures at love. No matter how many people around you are dating, or having the “perfect” relationship, or heart tugging romance. We are not failures because love is, quite simply, not a game. It is much better.