Turn Off the Dating Podcast

fourth year paria fakhrai

 photo by emily haynie

photo by emily haynie

As I trudge along 316 with the end of Labor Day Weekend slapping me back into reality, I find myself abruptly tuned back into the podcast I had mindlessly put on to keep from dozing off.  “I’ll know someone is my soulmate when I feel that gravitational pull keeping us together no matter what,” stated by the 30-something-year-old-previous-castmate-of-the-Bachelor on his perspective of finding “the one”. In my most humble and non-judgmental opinion, that’s absolute bullshit. I promptly turned off the podcast having realized the bullshittery nature of its content, and instead found myself fixated on the “soulmate” concept for the rest of my ride back to Athens.

Although I’ve recently come to terms with the fact that I may be somewhat of a hopeless romantic, the idea that there’s this one singular person out there for you—perfectly crafted to be your one true love forever—seems iffy. Not only is this trope incredibly anxiety-inducing, it’s frankly more stressful than reassuring. I’ve always held the belief that life unfolds more like those children’s “choose your own adventure” books— remember those? There’s no “right” path; the story alters to fit the one you’ve chosen to tell. Similarly to the decisions we make or the relationships we have, there’s no one path indicative of a happier ending than the other. How can we know, right? Besides just in the regard to having one perfect significant other out there, it’s equatable to choosing the best degree or the right career or the perfect city to live in— it’s easy to fall into this uncontrollable apprehensiveness that our decision is finite and indefinite, but it’s simply untrue.

We force the idea of “forever” on a relationship when we think they must be the one or on a job because we spent all the time and the money on the degree, but it’s incredibly exhausting to think that way. Every door you open may have another behind it that you don’t know exists until it does. Every choice you make, every relationship you have, every wrong or right turn you think you’ve made shifts your path into a direction better suited for you. Maybe the relationship you thought was meant to last forever doesn’t, but it teaches you what you need out of the next one. Maybe the career you thought you’d love forever isn’t what you expected, but it opens the door to another opportunity that would’ve never come about without working the first job. There is no “gravitational pull” that moves us in any which direction—we move ourselves where we see best-fit based on our present and our perception of the future. As those things change, though, our paths sometimes do too.