Some call it the “City of Love” and I suppose that’s fittest place for me to go. After four semesters of writing Love Letters, I’m off to Paris to study abroad, which will, of course, result in a lapse of my writing for a time. While I hope to come back with knowledge that only Paris can offer, writing this column has taught me more than a few things. Here are the top three lessons I hope Love Letter readers take with them.
1) No one’s an expert.
When I first started writing I was looking to inspiration from Carrie Bradshaw (a fictional character–by the way) and New York Times columnists who explored modern love and relationships. I have no formal degree in sexuality, romantic love or even women’s and gender studies. I simply know what I know. This is the case with most of us. We know what we know from our own experiences and the experiences of other people of which we have absorbed. I found that the people I considered “experts” were all doing the same thing. All were giving their fans a jumping off point. I think that in any crisis, when the heart is involved, it’s important to know that none of us really know what we are doing. The best we can do is consult our local experts: our friends, families, etc. At the end of the day, the most important say is the one you make for yourself. You’re the only expert there can ever be for your life.
2) Cynicism is a fun, and useful too, but not a word to live by.
I love to be cynical. It’s a part of my humor and it’s a part of how I guard myself. Cynicism can be a useful thing. As much as I love it, though, cynicism can also be damaging if not used properly. If you’re someone who wants to find love and hasn’t yet, cynicism can hinder you. Don’t be ashamed of wanting love. If you don’t want love right now, cynicism can perhaps help explain the reasons why. At a certain point, or in certain circumstances, you may find yourself ditching cynicism. If you happen to find someone that makes you happy, there’s no reason to be negative all the time.
3) Independence is everything
Independence does not have anything to do with one’s relationship status. It is the autonomy you find within yourself whether you’re single or in a relationship. Independence means being able to be selfish when appropriate. It means not relying on someone else’s say or authority. When people talk about independence, it usually applies to the empowerment of single straight women, but I am talking about it for men and women, single and matched up, straight and LGBT+. It is a concept that applies to everyone and it calls everyone to trust themselves. Have independence over your body; it is your right to give consent or to not. Or if you feel manipulated by your partner–if they keep treating you like crap and then apologizing in a constant cycle–remember that you have the power to break the cycle. In a less serious case, you even have the independence to stay home and watch Netflix while everyone else goes out on New Year’s Eve, if you choose to.
Well, au revoir readers. I hope these lessons are the ones you remember during our time apart. The final thought I would like to leave you with is something that I believe to be important in light of the recent tragedies in our world, and in light of the holidays ahead. In “Love Actually,” Hugh Grant narrates the beginning scene and at the end of a speech speaking about the 9/11 attacks he says, “…If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.” I can honestly testify to this truth. Happy holidays, everyone.