Anup Samanta realized too late that sometimes love happens when you’re not ready.
I first felt “it”, the l-word, for someone in college about fourteen-and-a-half years ago. Back then, I recall having a disparaging impression of this person after I was introduced to them. This initial instinct seemed to be valid as I observed this person’s eccentric behaviors and actions in different settings. However, I felt I could simply ignore this person by removing myself from those settings. A college campus was a very big place, right?
Unfortunately, it wasn’t big enough. We ended up in a small class in the fall. I was pretty annoyed when this person sauntered into the room and sat down next to me. As time in class passed, I found this person less and less eccentric and more and more endearing.
One day in class, I asked a very dumb question. Everyone roared with condescending laughter. My “new friend”, however, hugged me tightly in front of the instructor and students. At that very moment, something inside of me triggered a feeling I never experienced. It made me nervous, but I felt peace in my mind and heart. Over time, I realized that I had naturally developed love for this person.
Unfortunately, I didn’t believe in having this complex feeling at a young age. The fundamental college experience should be about studying and partying with friends. I didn’t want to be encumbered by this silly and ambiguous feeling. I also felt that life experiences should be sequential by different milestones. Love should come after I earned my degrees, landed my first real job and saved up some money. While I continued to feel natural love for my classmate, I simultaneously tried to terminate it. No one was going to stand in the way of my long term professional and personal goals.
I wish I could go back in time and reverse this selfish way of thinking. It was emotionally self-destructive. I also hurt my classmate’s feelings. Eventually, my classmate and I reconnected on social media, stayed in touch over e-mail and met in person. The hug I received a year ago was much different than the first hug I received in college. It was cold and un-affirming, not warm and inviting. However, I felt I deserved that treatment. After we parted ways that evening, I knew I would never see my classmate again. Maya Angelou was correct when she said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
A key learning from this experience is that no one should ever delegitimize the power of natural instincts. Love is a very raw and unrefined instinct. When love surfaces, it is exposed. All anyone can do is express love to someone else in an honest, open and urgent way. Fighting against a natural instinct is counterproductive and debilitating. Modern day television entertainment and Internet technology have turned everyone against their natural instincts about love. Both TV and the Internet create the perception that people have so many options for love if they tune in to a show or buy a Match.com subscription. Love is not a numbers game. People are lucky if they experience true love once or twice in their lifetimes.
The good news now is that my natural instincts are going absolutely haywire about a different person. It’s a great feeling to have after years of being in multiple relationships and going on multiple dates. I feel blessed to have another chance at not only falling hopelessly in love, but also being able to express this feeling to someone who is beginning to feel the same way for me as well.