As long as I can remember I have been hopelessly romantic, way before I knew what love was. As in, I would pretend my kindergarten crush and I were Troy and Gabriella fromHigh School Musical— every Gen Z’ers perfect love story, of course. I was raised on Taylor Swift and romantic comedies, so yes, I am in love with love. It makes my heart flutter ,and watching a couple end up together at the end of a turbulent romantic comedy to me is its own type of high. 

However, it can be really hard to be hopelessly romantic in college. Especially at USC, where everyone is dead gorgeous and it seems like every one of your friends is participating in hook-up culture. 

I am in no way saying I am not sex positive. I once told my roommate when she was leaving up in the middle of night to go hook up with a boy: “You go, girl, feminism.” Yes, it was two in the morning, and I was a bit delirious, but those words did indeed come out of my mouth. I have never had the desire to participate in hook-up culture. Even if that meant being incredibly single for my first two years of college. 

Having come into college fresh out of a breakup, I was not ready to go explore all of my options. Instead, I was still talking to my ex-boyfriend and crying a little too much to sad Taylor Swift songs. I saw everyone around me use this first year of college as a chance to have their sexual awakening and was awed to hear how casually my friends viewed hook-ups. I was seventeen when I started college and had grown up in a small city where everyone knows each other. Therefore, that did contribute to my naivety and lack of knowledge of the real world. However, I was overwhelmed very quickly. 

By my second semester, I was no longer speaking to my ex-boyfriend, so I downloaded Tinder. I never acted on it and simply used it for fun. I did have a few boys ask me to be friends with benefits, which in no world would I ever have acted upon. 

Seventeen-year-old me was confused and heartbroken. Firstly, she was not ready for a boyfriend, but also absolutely hated that the dating landscape she was navigating was one being ruled by inorganic connections. I wanted to know where my meet-cute was? I was not meeting cute boys in elevators  like500 Days of Summerand surely no one was pushing me out of the way of cars like in the wedding planner. 

Over the pandemic, my dating life become nonexistent. I was not going to date any of the boys I had known in my hometown since I was twelve. Once I came back to Los Angeles, I forced myself to go on a series of dates. In reality, I just forced myself to go on a date for the first time in two years. There was a twenty-five-year-old consultant, a guy who told me his godfather was Michael Jackson, a fellow USC student I had nothing in common with, and an Egyptian boy who made me Lyft home from Long Beach (spending a $100) while proceeding to ghost me. 

By the summer, I decided love was dead. Meanwhile, everyone around me was back to hook up culture. But as always, I was listening to too much Taylor Swift to truly stop believing in love. I could not imagine a world where I found someone I cared about while not getting my heart ripped out of my chest. I didlovelove, but not enough to experience heartache again. To be honest, I had just picked up all of the pieces of myself. I did finally go on a date number five of the series of dates of 2021 that turned into something positive, and I would say its going pretty well. 

Two years of being single taught me that love manifests in so many more ways than romantic love. Love is the people around you. It is those who have three person parties with you during a a global pandemic, your roommate who makes you homemade mini pancakes, it is your mom relentlessly calling you, and every single character in your life who cares about you in the slightest. Being a hopeless romantic is a state of my mind. 

One of my best friends told me that she is a hopeless romantic because it allows her to have higher standards. For her, love means someone who will give as much as her. I learned that being a hopeless romantic is my super power. Being a hopeless romantic has allowed me to expect more from relationships. Because why love someone if they don’t love you as much as Harry loved Sally or Margaret loved Andrew or Nick loved Rachel? 

So yes, I will continue listening toEnchantedby Taylor Swift. Most importantly, hopeless romance has taught me that even in the worst of times, you can find some comfort in the phenomenon that is love.