Every year, I become my happiest self in October.
The leaves are turning, everything is flavored with whipped cream and pumpkin, and I don’t have to feel bad for only wanting to watch Disney’s “Hocus Pocus,” the greatest movie ever made.
I’m happy. But sometimes, I’m snuggled under my duvet, my space heater murmuring in the background, and something feels wrong. There isn’t anyone next to me, or across from me, or waiting for me outside. When my hair falls into my face, no one will brush it back, and I miss my mom.
That’s when I start feeling guilty. I’m a 21st century woman in college! The artist Jenny Holzer says romantic love was invented to manipulate women! And I’m a feminist!
Being guilty doesn’t cure my loneliness, though. If anything, it’s only more lonely to be ashamed of something you want. The things we want are the secret parts of who we are, and nothing’s more isolating than being ashamed of who you are.
This September, amidst preemptively eating pumpkin ice cream and listening to my space heater whisper sweet nothings, I have felt very consumed by my need of love. And maybe that’s where my shame comes from — the consumption and the lack of control that comes with being consumed. I’m afraid of not having control, and emotions involve so little of it.
I turned to something more productive: reading. I was looking for a way to gain jurisdiction over my heart, to most effectively put myself in the box of shame, but I found something more effective. I was vilifying and yearning, when what I should have been doing, irritatingly enough, was accepting.
Roland Barthes in “A Lover’s Discourse”:
“I am then seized with that exaltation of loving someone unknown […] a mystic impulse: I know what I do not know.”
Heather Havrilesky in The Cut’s advice column: “You can swim through shit without ingesting it or becoming it. You can use nightmarish experiences […] to reaffirm your belief in yourself and in love.”
Tyler, the Creator in “See You Again”: “I ain’t met you / I’ve been looking, stop the waiting
‘fore I stop the chasing, like a alcoholic / You don’t understand me, what the fuck do you mean?”
I can’t prevent myself from being a person that cares about love. I believe in romance, and I want it. I’m also independent and like to be alone. I’m also needy and cry while watching “Titanic.” And that’s all okay.
A lot of my friends are also love love, and they’re lonely. They’re ashamed, and they’re frustrated. They have so much to give, and think they have no one to give it to — a fact that seems even more apparent during the notorious “cuffing season”.
But once you accept your need for romance, instead of putting it in a restricting box of shame, it becomes an integrated part of who you are — what it always wanted to be.
Being lonely is no longer crippling. It’s open and authentic. It’s putting on perfume before you go to bed and kissing your friends on the cheek, and calling your sister to tell her good morning.
Rex Orange County sings, “loving is easy / you have me fucked up.”
Loving is easy, wanting it is hard. Living is beautiful and lonely. Acceptance is powerful and painful. And the leaves are changing color.