October 5, 2015

Outlier: An Unmatched Heart and A Mismatched Outfit

stripes and polkadots outfit
Blazer, Marshall's | Top, Rire Boutique | Pants, Macy's | Shoes, Keds | Necklace, Macy's
Photo and post title creds: Alura Chung-Mehdi

I wish I could relate--I really do.

When friends hit rough patches in their romantic relationships, I try to sympathize, offer them comfort in the form of open ears or dark chocolate, and even inconspicuously apply methods of Carl Rogers' humanistic therapy from psych class.

They ask me what they should do. I listen to their pros and cons. I attempt to offer insight without influencing their decisions. We both know, however, that I have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about.  

Even in their conflict, I envy them. Because beneath the tumult, I sense two souls that deeply care for each other. That have connected on a level so profound that it is unfathomable to me.  

I'm 19, and I've never dated anyone. A couple years ago, a teammate so aptly put it: "I don't understand where boyfriends come from. Do they pop out of the ground or something?" Ironically enough, she has a boyfriend now, and they've been dating for over a year. He did not pop out of the ground. Despite this counterexample, I'm still not convinced: I fervently believe that boyfriends must indeed pop out of the ground--or something. 

Most of the time, I find my lack of a love life far from worrisome. As an outsider, romantic relationships appear time-consuming and inevitably agonizing. Don't get me wrong--it's heartwarming and uplifting to observe happy couples; I just always found it difficult to reconcile the almost-guaranteed pain with any resonance. In econ jargon, my opportunity cost of dating appears to be much greater than my opportunity cost of not dating. After all, academics consume most of my energy and attention. In high school, my parents had drilled into my head: No boys. Focus on school.

My mother, however, recently bestowed upon me explicit permission to date. You know, Lily, you're in your sophomore year of college. It's okay if you date someone, whether a friend from home or at school. I don't want you to miss your chance--there are more women than men in this country, you know.

Even my sage eleven-year-old brother has put in his two cents: Sis, you need to find a bae.

Statistically speaking, this is impossible. I have proof: my results from the ultra-credible and accurate site www.lessthanone.com, which calculates the number of potential soulmates in your current location, through algorithms based on your preferences. A friend first sent it to me as a joke last year. Even then, my results were dismal: .9 of a person was right for me. Now, my prospects are even more bare: a whopping .45 of a person is the one.

I can't deny that I'm curious--if you ever see .45 of a person walking around, do let me know. I wonder what it's like to connect with someone on that deep a level. I wonder how it's even possible that two people feel the same magnetic force between each other, at the same time, in the same place. I wonder why we're drawn to certain people, how relationships develop, and what love is. 

I wonder, but I'm afraid. Infatuations are exhilirating at best, suffocating at worst. Falling for someone is voluntarily venturing into sickly sweet, thick fog. You have no idea if you'll end up somewhere worthwhile, or if you'll emerge unscathed. At the same time, taking the risk and allowing yourself to be vulnerable is an opportunity--for growth, for discovery. 

I fell hard a couple years ago for a close male friend--I even mustered up the courage to spill my feelings, and he just didn't happen to see me the same way. The emotional aftermath was brutal--I felt relieved, numb, confused, and hurt all at the same time. But to this day, I'm still glad that I told him, that I ventured into the fog. I became stronger, and counterintuitively enough, our friendship grew stronger as well. There was definitely a rough transition period, but now we're able to be more honest and candid with each other. 

I am an outlier. I don't know what it's like to be in a relationship. I'm terrified of falling for anyone. I think stripes go with polkadots. I consider endurance exercise fun. I have poodle hair. I eat eccentric health-food fare. 

The regression line may have missed me, but it's okay. If that .45 happens to materialize into my life, I'm willing to take the plunge. But for the time being, it's perfectly pleasant out here. 

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