How a Rom-Com Helped Me Heal | An Ode to "To All The Boys I've Loved Before".
by Kirsten Renee
I'm a romantic comedy fanatic, I've watched all the classics, and even some that no one else has heard of. Rom-Com's have always been a form of escape for me, falling in love with a stranger, being the one for someone, or even forbidden love all have captivated my interest since I was young. As a child my diary held my deepest fantasies and dreams, often starring whatever boy my little heart had a crush on at the time. As I got older, the leading person changed, but those fantasies never went away... nor did my need to write them down. I went from writing in my diary to writing notes to my heart's desire. Going out on a limb, and hoping that they would return my affection. That never happened though, I usually was met with a hard dose of reality and legit embarrassment. Yet that never stopped me from writing notes or being overly hopeful that one day I would find my own rom-com partner.
Well into my teen years where not much happened, but things got a little spicy at times. I realized that romantic comedies were not the best "How To" when it came to dating, and I was actually doing more harm than good to my own heart. My movie watching turned into me reading romance centered novels, thinking that I would one day find the Jasper to my Alice. Let's be real, they were the real power couple of the Twilight series. Don't get me wrong, I would still watch movies about tragic love all the time, and still silently wished I was in them.
At some point, adolescents turned into adulthood and that's where shit got really funky. While most of my peers went off to school and found new lovers and friends. I was off at a local college, nursing a very wounded heart and hoping that I would just be invisible to everyone. It's weird how I went from craving the attention of others, to wishing I could be swallowed up by the floor. Heartache does that to you, and sometimes we don't realize the blessings that come out of a breakup.
Recently, I've been anticipating the arrival of Netflix's new Romantic Comedy dedicated to teenaged love. "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" caught my eye not only because of the diverse cast but because of the plot. Girl writes love letters (sounds familiar?), letters get sent out, and suddenly she's faced head-on with the consequences of her hearts desires. I sat down and watched it with my best friend and by the end I was sobbing. How did these people expose me like this? I quickly added this movie to my list of favorites and spent the next day reading both books (reading the third one currently!) that it was based on. Reading the books is what really broke down things that I hadn't really noticed that I still held on to. Sure, there were major differences but the gist was the same. . . How do you fantasize about love, but run away when it's in your face?
See the older I've gotten the more cynical I've become and you would think that for someone who loves love as much as I do I wouldn't be. However, it seems that relationships aren't something that IRL me can handle. The idea of loving someone and allowing them to love me back actually scares the shit out of me. Like are you serious? What's wrong with me? Why am I like this?
It wasn't until I saw and read about LJ and Peter's relationship that I realized "damn girl, you're too young to be this cynical"! Author Jenny Han literally brought my deepest secrets into the light and used my younger self to make me face them. Fifteen years old me was so triggered by watching the movie that I had to walk out and go get a snack. I went home after I watched and decided that I needed to see it again to make sure that I wasn't losing my mind. The second time, however, brought about different feelings even though it had barely been four hours in between both viewings. This time I wasn't watching it as a younger version of myself, I was watching as me now. Which in retrospect is a hell of a lot worse, because then for the next 24 hours I devoured 2 of the 3 books, and watched the movie for the third time.
When the realization hit me that 16-year-old LJ and 26-year-old Kirsten were the same people, emotions got heavy. Here I am, damn near thirty realizing that the world in my head is NEVER going to match the one I actually live in. Let me tell ya, making that connection felt like I got slapped by the biggest brick to the face. Here I am, a grown woman still fantasizing about the great loves she'll never have. Which could possibly still happen I'm not that naive, but it's best to not write what I want it to be. It's best to let it happen how it's supposed to without any influence from my romance-obsessed brain.
True enough, not everything can be explained nor can I rewrite the tragedies that I've experienced. I can't take back the notes that I wrote or the embarrassment that I felt. I can't change teenaged decisions or redo the heartache's that came with it. I can't fix any of that or alter it in any way, the only thing I can do is to recognize my heart now. What does she want? What does she need today? How can I assist her in healing and growing simultaneously? How is she wanting to be loved? I haven't asked adult me those questions before, and maybe it's about time that I start doing just that.
This book series and film, pushed me past comfort zones that I did't even realize I was in. Sure the setting may be high school, but the lesson is so much bigger than that. We don't get to make up our perfect person, nor do we decide when they come into our lives. For all you know that best friend you had on the playground when you were six, will be your first kiss at sixteen. Life is funny like that and should be enjoyed in all of its fucked up glory.
Heal yourself in any way you need to.
Check out "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" NETFLIX now!