Honest Love: How Our Hobbies Teach Us What Real Love Feels Like

Despite being the furthest thing from a hopeless romantic or an expert on the subject, I somehow end up writing about love a hell of a lot. I’m going to hope that as I get older, this will start happening less, since ideally, I’ll have figured enough out by then to not have to sort through my thoughts with a pen and paper.

Whether I like it or not, I’ve learned a couple of things over the years. Strangely enough, it wasn’t a person who taught me the most.

I started dancing when I was 3 years old; I don’t have a single memory of life before it. I wasn’t the best or likely even the most passionate dancer out there, but I loved it, nonetheless.

The only version of Saturday morning I knew was one consumed with leotards, hair gel and a couple hours at the studio. It felt like home. In high school, it never occurred to me that I was missing out on a social life when I had extra rehearsals for competition.

I think I only started to really get that I truly loved to dance when I had the option to drop out in college, but I couldn’t do it. I started dancing for no actual gain — no awards, prizes or titles — and somehow, I felt the most rewarded.

Last year, I graduated, and with that came the loss of everything, from regular classes to hours spent backstage at rehearsals with friends.

There aren’t many things that hurt me as much as the loss of my dancing days. Dancing made me feel more like myself. It taught me to love my body for what it could do and not for what it looked like. I wasn’t sure how to define myself without “dancer” somewhere in the description.

It took me a while to figure out that the feeling of loss was something to which I should pay attention. Even Bob Marley told us (in a quote found in countless Twitter and Facebook bios everywhere) that everyone should find someone (or something) for whom it is worth suffering.

Think about something you love doing: Is it hockey? Drawing? Singing? Whatever. If the thought of not being able to do it again gives you inescapable anxiety, consider yourself lucky. That’s what love is.

The amazing thing about our generation is that there’s no shortage of modern-day love stories. I’ve watched more rom coms than I’d care to admit; I’ve read more than my fair share of tragic, romantic novels. There are countless ideas on what love should feel like.

As beautiful as that is, figuring out what constitutes honest-to-goodness, authentic love is likely a lot easier than we make it out to be.

The way I felt dancing on stage is likely along the same lines as how my best friend feels when she’s painting, or how a hockey player feels when he or she steps onto the ice. When we meet someone who makes us feel the same way, it'll be difficult not to really know it.

People spend countless awkward first dates (and even more awkward second dates) searching for the kind of love that's worth the potential heartbreak. That kind of love is one that, even when it exhausts and frustrates and challenges us, still doesn't present quitting or giving up as a viable option.

Besides our hobbies and our passions, there aren't many things that can teach us that kind of unquestioning commitment. I don't know if there's a kind of love more honest than one you can have for something that gives nothing back.

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