Scholar of Love

Photograph of pink heart-shaped sunglasses

I love love. Being an avid reader of romances and watcher of rom-coms since not long after I could open my eyes made sure of that. Mr. Darcy’s hand flexed as he walked away from Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice, and I never recovered. I never get tired of watching Hilary Duff and Chad Michael Murray waltz under the stars in A Cinderella Story. I have seen Heath Ledger dance across the bleachers to a bashful Julia Stiles about 20 times in 10 Things I Hate About You. I will debate anyone that Lana Condor and Noah Centineo have great chemistry in the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy.

So when it comes to romance, one might say I’m a little bit of a self-taught scholar.

That made it easy to dole out advice to others when I got to college. I could point out the shy glances across the room that signaled a match in the making. Knew the right words to send in a text to make one sound both aloof and interested. In my mind’s eye, I was a coach of sorts.

A coach with no real-life experience.

Which didn’t bother me. Because, as I concluded, coaches don’t play. Did you ever see one take a position on the field? Ted Lasso jumping into the middle of one of his soccer matches to score the winning goal? No, because coaches belong on the sidelines wearing headsets, if not comfortable and expensive-looking windbreakers.

The problem was, if we stripped away the fun sports analogy, it boiled down to one thing: I was a little scared. I was scared of being vulnerable. I was scared of rejection. I was scared of the honesty that had to come with putting your heart on a platter and trusting someone else to take care of it.

I’d always prided myself on being independent and tenacious. Getting into Wellesley seemed to indicate that the path I was on was leading me in the right direction. The transition to college was smooth in a way I hadn’t expected: great friends and interesting classes. Did it matter that I hadn’t had my first kiss?

I was self-aware enough to recognize that society imparts unrealistic pressures that convince us we’re behind others. That comparison is the thief of joy. But sitting on the sidelines was starting to pick at me in a way it hadn’t before. I was now 19 and a sophomore, not looking for my one true love. But I was unnerved by the grip my own fear had on me. That in a quest to protect my heart, I had created a trap of my own making. One where my own stubbornness might be hindering me from taking a step forward.

In the midst of that thinking, the pandemic happened.

Sitting at a computer in my childhood room for a year and a half gave me nothing but time to think. And watch a lot of K-dramas. But mostly think. About my fear of change. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the possibility that I’d taken myself off the field before giving myself a chance to play.

That’s how I found myself on a windy fall day my senior year, going on my first Tinder date.

Tinder had sat in a dusty corner of my phone since I’d downloaded it as a first-year. I’d seen the Bumble ambassadors wearing their cute yellow hats around campus but had never given much thought to dating apps. That felt like an admission.

This date felt like taking control, in a good way.

The date was awkward. In the way, I’ve now learned, that first dates usually are. It was nothing like the meet-cutes I’d read about in books. Like the soulmate sightings I’d watched in movies. We talked about how stressful school was over shrimp tempura. How we both complained about this cold little city, but were happy to be back. At a certain point, my shoulders dropped from around my ears, and I felt myself smile.

I was sweaty with nerves but pleasantly surprised when I climbed back on the bus. The world hadn’t ended. Everything was still intact. I’d stepped outside of my comfort zone. And still, when I got back to campus, I had to watch where I walked to avoid goose droppings.

It felt like a win.

And when I sat down that night to recount how it’d gone to friends, it felt like a breath of fresh air.

Deavihan Scott ’22 is a self-proclaimed rom-com expert, avid writer, and lover of everything pop-culture related. She is currently catching up on some reading.

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