Leave it to a love story to bring out the best in you. The entirety of my college excursion is a four year and one semester long story on love. A romantic retelling of me attempting to do my level best during the many ups-and-downs. About how I tried to alleviate the negatives along the way while remembering to appreciate the positives. And how instilled in me were the expectation of failure and the sense of humbleness in triumph. When I think about my love story it makes me smile and it drives me to tears. For this I am forever grateful.
The moment I nervously walked inside Tivoli’s Turnhalle Ballroom to attend new student orientation in what now seems like a lifetime ago, my mind was made up. My college experience would be nothing more or nothing less than what I put into it. If life is truly what you make of it I was determined that my college life be a fervent exploration of knowledge, excitement, and romance. Sitting here writing a love story describing all of this only five days’ shy of my graduation, a few things are apparent to me. First the feeling of it all is beyond the realm of the surreal. Second I am absolute in my assessment that the good has far outweighed the bad and the bad, though many times ugly and even life-threatening, taught me that if I had to do any of it all over again, I would. In a heartbeat.
When you’re a “hopeless romantic” your life is prioritized, even defined by heartbeats. It is a life spent defending something. A notion, a belief, a dream. The hopeless romantic spends time, energy, even our money investing in that dream through activity or behavior which we feel will bring us that much closer to an understanding of what truly makes the heart flutter. Closer to becoming that ultimate romantic soul we’ve always thought we’re destined to be. Closer to the solution of life’s most complicated conundrum, L-O-V-E.
When I made the choice to return to school to attain the knowledge to grow as a writer I wanted the experience to be about more than achieving good grades or earning a degree. I wanted it to be an experience that mirrored the truest vision of the person who I felt I was at the time but at the same time give a reflection that illustrated the person who I felt I could become. With romance being one of the common denominators on both spectrums when it came time to register for classes each semester it was inevitable that like all my choices in life, my academic ones would cater to the heartbeats.
The decision to minor in French foreign language was an easy one to make. The hopeless romantic in me would have never forgiven the cynic in me for bypassing the opportunity. When I mentioned that hopeless romantics spend their time, energy, and money so they can inch closer and be more in tune with their romantic inner selves. I wasn’t kidding. Currently I have invested 4 years, 9 months, 27 days, 5 hours, 9 minutes and as of this sentence, 50 seconds’ worth of my time. I have spent over 10 thousand dollars of my money. I am completely burnt out and as depleted of energy as a Sally Struthers kid. Yet the smile on my face is ear to ear.
To anyone who had not been made aware of just how romantic exhaustion, malnutrition and debt can be before now, you’re welcome. To anyone who has given up on romance and written it off as myth you should also be made aware that reaching that conclusion is directly linked to how difficult a task it is to defend romance. The number one rule when on duty is to never get comfortable. Complacency is a romance catastrophe and the second it begins to happen the ability and skill of those able to wield it as they see fit will steadily decline. This is a decline that neither you or anyone privy to your romantic inclinations during their heights may never recover from.
Throughout my two and a half years of French study I have realized that not unlike romance if you do not remain passionate and dedicated toward it, or you fail to remain invested in it full-time, the knowledge and the grasp once so intrinsic early on incrementally and eventually plateaus later. For me that was a sobering and heartbreaking lesson to learn. But one I had to learn. Losing our focus or passion for the things in life that provide us with happiness is the kind of regret that forever haunts you. A life spent devoid of romance or the amenities that elicit joy is the sort of slow death I could never live for.
Romantics never hope less. It is not in our nature. We are steadfast in our belief that romance is alive and well. We try and remain passionate in our pursuit of it. And we understand that no matter what you are passionate about, practice does in fact not make you perfect. No matter how much I practice speaking or writing in French I will never be perfect at it. And I’ve discovered that I’m comfortable in that knowing. I’ll be the first to admit that far too often during my foreign language studies did I turn what should have always been a primarily fun learning experience into a stressful one believing I had to be perfect.
Thankfully I never lost sight by the end of the journey what it was all about from the start. Now I stand on the verge of graduation armed with La language de l’amour. Yet another weapon that will aid in my defense of a notion I hold dear. I have tapped in deeper and moved much closer to that of which I seek. Leave it to a love story to bring out the best in you.