I find the word soulmate simultaneously lovely and intimidating. It often seems so final and serious and scary to me, rather than what it’s supposed to be: sweet, simple, strong. I think a soulmate can be present in all sorts of situations: the soulmate you can find in a relationship with a friend, or a sibling, or a mentor.
But it’s the idea of the romantic soulmate that shakes me. The one that seems so overwhelming, obsessed over, and held to such a high standard. It makes ‘forever’ seem daunting and heavy, like something you have to feverishly chase after, something so rare and sparse that it could slip through your fingers at any moment – rather than something that weaves into your life naturally, because you simply feel it should be that way.
It oddly reminds me of the Easter egg hunts I would participate in as a kid. The details are fuzzy now – where these events took place, what the prizes were, who I did it with. I’ve forgotten all of that. But what I remember in complete clarity was the feeling of sheer panic and anxiety that always overcame me. It was supposed to be an experience filled with joy and giddiness, but all I could do was watch the other children racing madly around the space, feeling a sick drop in my stomach each time one of them screamed excitedly and lifted up their hand, visibly announcing to all others that they had found one of the prized eggs. My own quest to find eggs became less about the happy realization that I had spotted one, and more about the crazed and frantic desire to grab it before anyone else did.
Maybe it’s not so odd, now that I think about it. Maybe it’s not so odd that I can’t help but recall that frantic energy, that I can’t help but feel it in the air amongst my peers thanks to the constant stimulation we’re subjected to that is always focused on finding one’s soulmate. There’s a switch that turns on, right around age twenty-four, in which your relationship or lack thereof just becomes part of you and your identity. People you know ask about it, people you literally just met want to know if you’re with anyone (often with no motive other than maintaining their idea of simple small talk), people announce their engagement on social media and you ‘like’ it almost reflexively. It’s just a big part of our world now. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s frustrating, sometimes you think nothing of it. But what often tosses everything over the edge is the idea that you shouldn’t be just searching for or maintaining love. You should be searching for, or should already be with, your one, true, meant-for-each-other soulmate.
This is what throws me. The idea that there’s only one person in the entire world you could make a beautiful life with. And that if you don’t find them, or you think you already did and it didn’t work out, that you’re screwed. Maybe I’m a killjoy. Maybe I suck at being romantic. But I actually think the idea of having multiple soulmates you could have met in this world, multiple lives you could have led if just one thing had gone differently on one day – makes it all the more romantic when you do find one of them. When you contemplate the idea that there could be plenty of others out there for you, plenty of people you could have made this work with – but you chose this person, on this day, because you’re willing to make the jump with them.
I think there’s a lot of eggs out there in a lot of different hiding places. And that panicked, insane energy that we feel is going to take a while to simmer down. But when it does, and we can turn and look one of our soulmates in the eyes, won’t it be so much sweeter knowing we had as big of a hand in the survival of this relationship as Fate did? That we made a choice? That we’re here, right now with this person, not because they’re our only option, but because we want them and we want to take this jump?