I get it. I mean, I really get it. Not EVERYONE loves Jane Austen. As much as I hate to admit it, there are those who consider her novels outdated, un-relatable and unrealistically romantic — and that is completely okay. From what I’ve observed, you either love Austen or you hate her. There is rarely any in-between and both sides can be quite passionate in their defense against or for her. As much as I myself adore Austen, you might assume that I’m hopelessly romantic, waiting for a Mr. Darcy to declare his feelings for me.
Well…. that is where you’d be wrong.
I have no desire for a Mr. Darcy in my life at this point. In fact, I’m more of a Wentworth girl myself, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is, I don’t go out seeking love, I have a hard time believing in love at first sight, and I am still working on not letting the word “relationship” freak me out. But that’s only one side of the coin. A really awesome period drama still has the power to make me sigh, I’ve scoured Youtube for ‘best movie kisses’ like the best of them, and I was addicted to romance novels before age 15. (And I mean seriously addicted, as in the books were stacked three-deep on my bookshelves. A bit over the top? Maybe. But did it keep me from adding more books to my collection? Nope.)
Is it possible, though, to be hopelessly romantic and unfailingly realistic at the same time? Is it like an oil and water combination where the two will never mix? Honestly, I have no black and white answer, but I like to believe that the two can coexist. Just like Jane Austen can grow on you (yes, it has been known to happen) it is possible to have romantic ideals as well as a real sense of the world…. or at least the dating world.
Unlike an Austen novel, where the heroine always gets her hero in a ‘Happily Ever After’ type of ending, real life rarely follows that pattern. In this modern dating world of Facebook status updates, drunk texts from last night, and trying to fit in with college girl burdens, it’s not uncommon to have your heart broken or watch the perfect love story become a dating horror story. A bit like Pride and Prejudice meets Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, wouldn’t you say? Sometimes we give until there’s nothing left to part with; or perhaps we zealously guard our hearts from any type of vulnerability; whatever the case may be, there’s not always a ‘Happily Ever After’ waiting for us at the end of day.
This doesn’t mean it’s time to put that romantic side to rest. Why not let it be more of a challenge? Why not keep reading Austen’s happy endings or seeing the latest feel-good chick flick? Sure, you may not actually meet Prince Charming (SO overrated anyhow) and you may kiss more than your share of frogs, but a real, genuine relationship is something worth taking on. It may be raw around the edges and lack that Hollywood glamour, but that’s what makes it so special. It’s in the flaws and imperfections that romantic ideals become a much more fulfilling reality.
My mom used to tell me (and still does), that I have my head in the clouds and my feet on the ground. She should know — she was the one buying me those romance novels after all. She was also the one to catch me peeling a ‘true love apple’ in front a mirror, but that’s a story for another time. As I get older, this head and feet contrast constantly comes to mind. Do I follow my heart or my head? Do I listen to reason and logic or give the right of way to my instincts? It’s a balance that changes depending on the situation, but I’ve learned it all comes down to believing in yourself and the choices you make.
Life is always going to be full of mistakes and regrets and god-awful hangovers so why not look on the bright side once in awhile? You never know what you might find there. At the very least, it could be a couple of Aspirin, a large glass of water and my favorite chapter of Persuasion. A girl can’t ask for more than that.
So what about you, ladies? Are you a diehard romantic, a straight-shooting realist or are you rocking both sides? Let’s hear your stories.
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