When it comes to love, this generation is filled with cynics -- people who despise relationships, who are petrified of being vulnerable, who have a hard time learning to trust someone new after they'd been hurt.
I feel like I'm the only person who doesn't actually hate love.
Whenever anyone says anything negative about it, I jump to defend it and talk about how great it is. At this point, my defense mechanism has been exercised like a muscle, fully trained to react against anyone who disses romance, relationships and fairytale endings.
Don't get me wrong: I've been hurt just as deeply and just as traumatically as the next person.
My heart has been ripped out of my chest, chewed up and spit out. I've experienced grief that's never stopped plummeting, pain that's plunged me deep into the dark depths of depression, into an abyss I'd never known existed.
But I've also known what it's like to feel invigorated by stupid love songs.
I've known what it's like to value someone else's happiness above my own, to feel unstoppable when you hold someone's hand, to be fascinated by every single thing about somebody else and never get bored.
The mere sight of another person has energized me, reassured me and convinced me that anything was possible -- including love.
And it's the love, not the hurt, that I focus on the most.
Because you might think love is hopeless, but I'm a hopeless romantic.
You're trying to be cool; I'm trying to be real
There's such an unfair stigma against hopeless romantics.
Everyone thinks it's cool to be cynical, to be guarded, to be aloof.
It's cool to not bother with emotions or to express your vehement opposition to feelings, as if feelings were the worst things to happen to the human race.
On the contrary, everyone belittles hopeless romantics, calling us immature and unrealistic. They say we've been untainted by "reality" because apparently our love lives have just been filled with rainbows and butterflies.
Well, f*ck all of that. I couldn't give less of a sh*t about being cool. And just because I didn't let a nasty heartbreak turn me into a grumpy cynic doesn't mean I'm not in touch with reality or I haven't experienced loss.
I'm confident I'm worth loving, even if something in my past has proven me otherwise. That, to me, is way cooler than whatever you're feeling.
You're happy to win by caring less; I'm happy to lose by caring more
Every Millennial knows the whoever-cares-less game is the most important game one can play in romance.
Those who act the most uninterested and distant are the ones who end up "winning" the "game," and those who care too much are seen as too desperate, too hopeless, too obvious about the fact that they're not working to maintain that air of aloofness that's necessary to hold someone else's interest.
This is definitely not a game I want to play. And if I'm forced to play it -- and I am, unfortunately -- I'm really happy losing.
Because to me, a real win is when you're honest with yourself and with someone else about how you feel.
If doing that means I lose, then, whatever. I lose. Boo hoo.
You're trying to keep your walls up; I'm trying to tear them down
People who are cynical fear vulnerability.
They fear letting someone in, expelling their innermost secrets, allowing another person to really get to know them on a level that nobody else has before.
But I crave that. In fact, I actively seek it out. I love finding opportunities to self-disclose, to bear my soul to another human being and give him exclusive access to my most private thoughts.
I love the feeling of closeness that comes from it. There's nothing that makes me feel more at peace than when I think someone knows me inside and out because I've given him permission to.
You see it as a one-night stand; I see it as a potential for a relationship
I have a hard time with one-night stands. Often, my vision of what will follow one doesn't always match up with someone else's vision, which is that it's supposed to be just a one-time thing. Oops.
During my senior year of college, a friend of mine actually had to coach me into preparing myself for a guy I hooked up with the night before to see our hookup as a one-night stand.
She knew how my brain worked; she knew it would definitely want something more.
I'll admit this mindset comes with its downfalls, but I can't snap myself out of it. And nor do I want to.
Because while you see every person you have sex with as disposable, I see a human being, one whom I could really, truly connect with. I'd rather that any day.
You anticipate the ending; I anticipate the wedding date
When my cynical friends are on the path toward a new relationship, they often tell me they immediately think about how it won't last, how it'll go wrong, how they'll get hurt.
This leads into a self-sabotaging cycle of destroying connections that had such great potential.
When I get into a new relationship, however, I've probably already gushed to my mother about how great he is, and I've more than probably imagined how my first name sounds with his last name.
I have fun imagining our future together, fantasizing about what our life would be like if he actually ended up being my forever.
This is just my default mental process: 1. Get into relationship. 2. Stalk Pinterest for wedding dresses. I can't help it.
You always think there's something better; I'm willing to fight to make it better
When I commit to someone, I fully commit to that person.
I don't begrudgingly go to the bar or club and look around at all the attractive men I can't flirt with.
I don't wonder what it would be like to date someone hotter or smarter or funnier. I simply don't think about whether or not there's something better out there.
I focus all of my energy onto my current relationship, striving to make it the best it can be. I focus on the good qualities my partner has, not the good qualities that he lacks.
I focus on what made me fall in love with him, not the kind of person that I should have or could have fallen in love with.
You're happy to be numb; I'm not afraid to feel
While others might try to protect themselves from potentially getting hurt in relationships, I allow myself to feel with reckless abandon.
I know that part of being a human being is embracing every single emotion I have, so I don't think twice about doing something that might upset me if there's a chance it'll also make me happy.
I also don't think twice about doing something that might make me happy if there's a chance it'll also upset me. I take the good with the bad, the yin with the yang.
I welcome any feeling that my heart throws at me.
That's the beauty of being a hopeless romantic: Feelings don't scare you. They empower you.