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Sunday, March 3, 2024
The Observer

Falling in love for dummies - 1

Falling in love for dummies (an ode to singleness)

A lot of my single friends don’t like being single. In fact, they hate it. Whenever they complain, I try to tell them “It’s good for you, stick with it,” like singleness is some trendy new workout plan. I try to remind them of the joys of the single life — those chance encounters in the middle of the dance floor, the excitement and potential of meeting a perfect stranger (in class, at the gym and in the wee hours of night while scarfing down cheesy garlic bread from Blaze). 

I admit, there’s a thrill in the intrinsic uncertainty of singleness; allure in the scramble to find a respectable (or even cute) date before a formal; novelty in the prospect of another silly, stupid, awkward or amazing encounter with a crush on a “casual” midday stroll through Duncan Student Center (it’s usually never casual).

Singleness for me feels like hope. It feels like a funny story to report to my girlfriends. It feels like dancing the night away without a care in the world (in a big, baggy, vintage Elvis t-shirt). It feels unserious and unfettered and completely unapologetic. It feels like a shot of whiskey, full of promise, full of wonder (and sometimes a bit of fear).

But of course, sometimes singleness really sucks. And sometimes, all we want to do is fall in love. 

All we want is someone to send our “super cool” underground indie music to; someone to relay every passing thought to; someone to ask the questions that keep us up at night: Does God exist? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do good things happen to bad people? Are we actually living in a simulation, and is Mark Zuckerburg really running it?

All we want is someone to unravel with; someone to know every detail, every nook and cranny of our lives, our minds, our hearts; someone to share in this burden of being and make it a bit better. 

All we want is someone to love our silly family traditions and our mom’s homemade chocolate chip cookie recipe (Nestle Scoop & Bake Cookie Dough) or the sound of our groggy morning voice every groggy morning. All we want is that one true love that puts everyone else out of business (every past formal date or situationship or emotionally intense talking phase that ended with a walk around the lakes). 

Sometimes I wonder if the quest for romantic love is often paved by loneliness, if perhaps this need to be with someone is paved by our fears of being “forever alone.” 

It feels like the more we seek, the less we find. The harder we try, the less we focus on the right here, right now, this passing moment which will never exist again — this moment when the birds are chirping and nothing else really matters. 

That’s why, when the single life chose me (and trust me, it did), I leaned into it. I leaned into right here, right now — all the loves I do have, not the love I thought I needed (I promise, I didn’t need it). 

I leaned into my love for sprawling out in the grass whenever the sun shines in South Bend. I reveled in that long drive to Chicago early in the morning when the highway felt like a liminal space. I watched strangers, the way they share this air with me, this place with me, and we rarely know it’s happening. 

I leaned into a love that was accessible, a love that was easy to come by — a love for crisp morning air and lake runs and smiles we swap on walks to class, a love for lattes my roommate makes me, a love for the girls I share LaFun booths with, a love for getting aux in someone else’s car (so I can play my “super cool” underground indie music).

So perhaps, the first step in “Falling in love for dummies” is to not want it so bad.

Revel in this season of waiting and try not to waste it. Become the type of single that is satisfied with the love around you in this moment (and if you don’t love this moment, leave it and go somewhere else).

But — and this is a big “but” — please don’t close yourself off from the possibility of finding that one true love. Don’t run from it when it walks into your life (because I’m sure it will). Welcome it. 

Welcome a love that’s right. A love that’s healthy. A love that doesn’t keep you up at night worrying. A love that doesn’t make you feel less than. A love that doesn’t lie. A love that doesn’t pretend. A love that isn’t too much too soon, or too little. A love that isn’t a rollercoaster. 

A love like the kind your friends give you when you’re dancing the night away in a big, baggy, vintage Elvis t-shirt. A love like we’re sitting in LaFun doing homework, but we’re not doing homework because we seriously can’t stop talking to each other. A love like it’s 2 a.m. on New Year’s and they need someone to cry with. A love like right here, right now. One moment, one chance. Breathe this moment in, fold it in your hands, hold it close. We will never be this young again.

Kate Casper (aka, Casper, Underdog or Jasmine) is from Northern Virginia, currently residing in Rome. She strives to be the best waste of your time. You can contact her at kcasper@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.