Being in love feels like blowing bubbles in the summer - the way the light hits them, they look like floating rainbows, gifts from the sky. Love keeps you warm; it's like waking up on a snowy morning and staying in bed, toes toasty in your wool socks. Love makes you want to skip through the mountains, turning in circles and singing like Julie Andrews.
Being away from the person you love is decidedly less enjoyable. So, naturally, one of the most difficult parts of leaving home last year was realizing that I would be thousands of miles away from my boyfriend for months on end. He would be in California and I would be in Ohio - we would only see each other on breaks. Skype would help, but it wouldn't be the same. But we decided to stay together despite the distance - as I said above, love is pretty cool. And though we eventually broke up, I don't regret our decision in the slightest.
I remember being shocked, however, by the amount of criticism we got! Some friends and family members questioned my judgment, saying that having a boyfriend in another state would prevent me from really experiencing college. Others shared detailed stories about distant cousins or co-worker's daughters, who had stayed with their high-school boyfriends and regretted it terribly. I was frustrated - I trusted myself, I trusted my boyfriend, I knew we were doing what was right for us. But it was hard to tune out everyone else's opinions.
This is me telling you: there's no right way to do this. Every experience is unique. Some of my friends needed a clean break before leaving for college, while others stayed in relationships that continue to this day! Please, trust yourself - you know what you need better than anyone else, even your significant other.
Whether you stay together or not, open communication is so important. Discuss your thoughts on long-distance relationships with your partner, even if it makes you a little uncomfortable! You deserve to have the college experience that you want - your romantic situation plays a big part in that. Hiding what you really want will only lead to stress and misunderstandings.
I hate to say it, but this whole thing isn't easy. No matter what you do, there will be times when you're really heartbroken. I've been there. But you never know what will happen - life can surprise you, and the hard times won't last forever. Just be honest with yourself about your needs, and let yourself feel sad. Sometimes laugh-crying at Parks and Rec while eating ice cream with your new friends is the best medicine.
No matter what, remember that everyone else's pearls of wisdoms are just suggestions. You can take them or leave them. If someone gives you a stink-face upon hearing that you're staying together with your significant other, that's their problem, not yours. Listen to the experiences of others, sure, but at the end of the day, follow your heart. Cheesy, I know, but it works. I believe that if you base your decisions in love, it's pretty hard to go wrong.
In regards to my ex-boyfriend, I have nothing but love and respect for him. I'm so glad that our relationship ended on its own terms, rather than in response to someone telling us that we should break up. We're both in other relationships now, but we still talk often. I'm really lucky to have him in my life.
Love will find you, you know? It might not be romantic at all - a silly new friend or an especially fascinating Politics reading or a flower growing in Tappan Square can keep you warm too. I'm in love with the Hamilton soundtrack and everything bagels and my boyfriend Joey and it all makes me want to run through the Alps, singing my heart out.
I'm thankful for every experience I have at Oberlin, and for every experience I had with my ex-boyfriend before. I'm thankful that I listened to myself. College is your time to find happiness, in whatever form that may arrive. Trust your gut, act with love, and good things will follow.
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