Community Stories. Get Inspired, Get Underlined

Warning: Not a Love Story

By @RayanaSel

Prologue/ My Alpha-Omega/ Age 7: Boys... Aren't so bad

Imagine for one moment, how it might be if we lived in a world where love happened to be a person instead of some abstract notion. No, I don’t mean Cupid or some love doctor—not at all.

I mean, if the literal composition of love were to be stuffed into a physical body.

Not male or female, no defining features at all. Just this essence that exists when a new relationship begins between two people. If you’ve been able to conjure up some variation of what you think that might look like, allow me to explain mine.

First, you take two specimens—those who have somehow found their way to each other.

The relationship might simply exist for the character development of the person who needed it. Or it may be the start of a blossoming, fruitful journey. The intention won’t be apparent at the beginning of every relationship—it takes time to show itself.

But let’s now say the pair reach a point where they can confidently say they are madly in love!

Yes, that’s where Love comes in, acting as the mediator. Even in times of adversity, Love attempts to see the relationship through to the very end, providing the reasons why two people should try harder and stay longer, to be the best they can for each other. It’s easier in that moment to say that it’s Love who could handle all the problems arising from a blossoming relationship.

 But, if we take the time to see Love as a person, and not as a driving force that keeps two people from moving on from one another, we might notice that there comes a time when Love is just not enough. Not everything will work out because we want it to.

That’s the sad part of love—the part we never want to encounter or even admit to.

The reality is that sometimes, enough isn’t enough, and love isn’t sufficient either.

And you know what? That’s okay. Really.

It’s hard to trust in the process of love when it’s something you cannot see.

That’s where I think things get complicated because the actions of people who surround and care about us can represent Love—because it is not just a fuzzy feeling.

It’s also about the actions, the being, the doing.

Love is in everything we do, and sometimes it’s the very reason why we do the things we do. Even love lost, or love that turned bitter, can drive us to act in a certain manner. And at times, we may not even realize that we are acting out of—or due to—Love.





More on all that later, but I think it’s important to understand that love is not something to be attained, and not a race to see who can be happiest first. It’s not a marker to measure the biggest family or the most memorable moments a person spends with their significant other.

Love is especially not the things you see on a screen, or even read in a book.

I think that we can forget that relationships are real, and chock full of ups and downs. And they are only the business of the people hoping to try something new with someone they care enough about.

Most of my childhood, I struggled with understanding that there was a time and place for everything. I thought that point A led to point B and so on, that I would find my soulmate before my real chapter began. I figured it wouldn’t be hard to find a guy I believed checked all my boxes. But the truth is, I spent a lot of time liking guys who just didn’t have the capacity to like me back. It was as if I went for the guys I knew could never see me for me, and I was afraid that if I met a guy who did like every part of me, it would be too good to be true. I allowed myself to get disappointed time and time again because I figured, “Hey, at least they were real.”

I ignored all their flaws and decided that the way I imagined them was the way they were in real life. But the worst part was that these guys were not bad wolves.

They were normal people doing normal things, displaying real emotions.

But I expected them to read my mind, to know my thoughts, to know the way I wanted them to act. And just like that, I wanted them to make it happen for me—for us.

The us that would never be, except in my imagination!

Whatever “it” was—the “it” I hoped they’d make happen—also varied depending on the guy and situation. And so, I think you could say I’ve been chasing my image of what love should be.

And I’ve been chasing it for a very, very long time.

One day, I realized that whilst love is in everything we do, it means something different to every person. My biggest mistake has never been rushing into love, because I’m aware of how tricky that can be. Instead, my biggest mistake was not accepting that the answer might just be no.

A resounding no at that, to the people who I think are supposed to turn out the way I want them to. I’ve always viewed the closing of a door in a glass-half-empty sort of way, instead of realizing that maybe my biggest defense is the thing I can’t see. And what is that? I hear you ask.

It’s the love I have for myself, or rather, the love I’m learning to have for myself.

Or at times, it’s been the love I didn’t have for myself.

And people always tell us as we are growing up, that we can only ever be loved if we can first love ourselves. It often doesn’t make sense—until it slots into place when we get much older.

Before you blow this off as another “love yourself, sappy story”—bear with me.

Take a moment to fill up a glass with liquid love for yourself. How full is it?

Be honest because that’s where things can start to turn around. Now, imagine Love as a person again, helping you decide how much of it to give to the different things in your life.

Love is no longer the mediator between you and another person.

Love is the gatekeeper to your mind and soul, deciding who or what gets your love, but also who or what needs the love from someone or something that’s not you.

In this life, we all have different paths, and sometimes, those paths intertwine.

Sometimes, the paths are meant to cross each other, but that’s all they’re supposed to do.

And this can be a real revelation if you’re like I used to be, consciously out looking for love. But it helps to recognize that many times, the people who come our way, the ones we sometimes try to mold to fit us, are not supposed to even stick around. They aren’t the ones who are supposed to stay by our side—because, simply, they do not fit. We are trying to make them fit.

It’s only much later when we look back and see how they didn’t suit us at all.

Ever watched a frustrated little child with a card jigsaw, trying to slot the shapes in?

And when those bits won’t align right, they start forcing them in place, creasing up the corners, bashing them in with an annoyed little fist—have you seen that?

That is what we each do.

That love thing, the thing we are so keen to fit into place, we beat it and bash it and hammer it, fold its edges, crumple its corners, all so it meshes with what we wanted. Let’s get real.

It is not what we wanted. Not even halfway there.

So, it’s good to accept the idea of impermanence, not in a negative way but rather, the idea that, no matter how hung up you get over someone, if they aren’t the one for you (or if you don’t believe in soulmates, “the best one” for you) then you will get over them. It was hard for me to get over a lot of the guys I fell for because I was hard on myself for having liked them.

I got irritated at my inability to move on, even when it seemed that they had.

I had to learn about the process of healing. Some cases were just school crushes… Truthfully, they all were. But a few meant more to me than I cared to admit. I just couldn’t find a way to move on. So, I want to share those stories. I want you to know it’s okay to be stuck sometimes. What you learn while you’re stuck might help you to never feel the way you did again.

However, we are creatures of habit, and you might fall into the trap again.

Even when you know better, you will still do it from time to time.

I know I have, but you need to find that motivation to crawl out, not for anyone else, but to find that motivation for yourself. Realize that you and that person are not a match. There is someone out there who is better for them. But there is also someone else out there better for you.

 How about trying to get over our ideas of what the perfect relationship looks like together? We just happen to be part of the percentage of people who get a delayed serving of romance, the kind that lasts a lifetime. But I’d like to think that it’s out there.

 There are things infinitely more important in life than finding a source for your undying affection, but it’s a lot easier to do life with someone else than it is alone.

Now, if you prefer to be alone, you have my full support, and I am rooting for you.

 But if you are like me, and starting to get a little impatient, boy have we got a lot to learn!

My Alpha-Omega



The following stories are tidbits from my futile love life.

I am not afraid to share them with you or anyone. And maybe in reading my experiences, you will come to realize you are not alone in this search because it sure can feel like a lonely place.

I have tried and tried again, yet no one has dared call me “the one.”

I would like to believe that I’m not particularly despicable, but my luck with men may state otherwise. There are many ways you could choose to spend your time, and I won’t judge you for choosing to skip the complaints I have documented in this book. But, if you choose to stay, you’re in for a roller coaster, my own personal roller coaster, called: “When does it end?” 

It’s in your best interest to strap in. I’ve been waiting my entire life to do this, and nothing is going to stop me from exposing the less than chivalrous men I’ve encountered. 

Off the record, I want kids, and at this point, it’s looking as though I may have to adopt.

My biological clock is ticking, as they say. I’ve always wanted a big family: in fact, until recently, I thought it’d be fun to have enough kids to form our own family soccer team, complete with alternates. I figured twenty-two rug rats would do the trick and assuage my love-aching soul, although I don’t know how enjoyable it would be to take them grocery shopping.

I imagine myself having a mental breakdown in the cereal aisle and telling the rotten kids that they are pretty high on my hit list, which would instantly put me in trouble with child protection services, but hey, what’s one more violation? I’ll already have had three by then, one for forgetting ten of the kids at the amusement park, another for a shortage of food, so the spoiled brats only got three square meals a day instead of the usual eight. Maybe one for forgetting exactly how many kids I had accrued, and accidentally locking two out overnight.

And lastly, the screams heard by the neighbors.

No, I wouldn’t have caused them, but it would instead be the kid playing in the two-by-two watering pond I dug in the backyard because money was short.

Hey, twenty-two kids will be enough to DRAIN even you.

Even so, I’d love to have them.

I’d love the chance to have even one.

Alas, I feel as if I should probably get back to my despair and explain how I came into this hopeless situation. Put the kettle on. Make your favorite drink. You’re in for a long tale…




For starters, I had a totally normal childhood. I was lucky to have both parental figures very present in my life, plus an older brother, a dog, some snails, a bunny, multiple fish, a borderline hermit crab—I even looked into getting a starfish, but didn’t have a permit. Who knew you even needed a starfish permit? But anyway, everything was at least mediocre until high school.

Let me be the millionth to say that it’s definitely not like the movies.

I turned sixteen and expected the guys to swoon over me, but unfortunately, that was a very unreal reality. They pretty much ran if I came near—or they asked me a question about homework, this being the sum total of their interest in me. And this process continued all through high school and into college, and past. Tragic really. It’s not as though I was weird or anything.

I had plenty of crushes, but the worst part of having a crush is the unproven fact that he or she—at least 84.9% of the time—does not like you back. In fact, he or she probably doesn’t even know you exist because they’re too busy eyeing up someone else in the class.

At the time of writing, which is December 5th, I turned thirty yesterday.

Time is officially running out.

I’m stuck in a loophole of work, sleep, despair, and my friends with their perfect lives.

This existence is no joke, and in case you didn’t realize it yet, milkshakes and snacks cannot always solve your problems.

Age 7:Boys… Aren’t So Bad



I was seven when I first discovered boys were not quite as repulsive as I believed them to be. Don’t get me wrong. They sure were repulsive but maybe just not as much as I’d feared.

This was also the only year of my life where I can remember a boy liking me, while I simply hated him—otherwise known as the only time a guy liked me and was man enough to act on it.

Recess was my favorite subject as a kid, and I only seem to remember the times from childhood where I was running around screaming “you’re it” at no one in particular before tailing it to the slide. To set the scene, we were out on the playground one afternoon and his name was Chuck.

Imagine a blubbering, hardheaded, son-of-a-constructor type of dude.

Every class has one of those.

I mean, he was nice, but he was also kind of weird.

I’m not going to sit here and act like he wasn’t. So anyway, he had a huge crush on me and I was still a firm believer that all the male species in elementary school had cooties.

Side story. We once went on a field trip to this place that took you back in time and showed you how the Native Americans lived during the Spanish colonization.

I had to watch in terror as a girl across from me, at the blacksmith’s well, pulled out a line of snot with the biggest booger you ever did see, inspected it, and nonchalantly ate it.

When she realized where she was, she looked around and saw me perpetually staring at her, and then she went back to picking her nose as if it was perfectly cool.

Needless to say, I was traumatized.

If you’re wondering how this relates to my love life, well, directly after, and before I had a chance to heed the whole second-grade warning, she proceeded to hold this little boy’s hand.

I’m absolutely positive that he never washed his filthy little snot-strewn mitts—I mean, which boy does?—so that booger juice spread to every boy and toy in the second-grade class, and although I was young, even I had my limits.

I know that’s hard to believe, but I really did.

It wasn’t so much the fact that she picked her nose because everyone did that, and it even could be fun. But it was more the fact that I had to watch her devour it and then share it around us all so generously.

Anyway, back on topic.

Little Chuck was a character and very protective of me in the playground. Another boy named Dean, as rude as he was large—imagine Pee-Wee Herman versus Goliath—approached me. Being the smart mouth I was, I decided to converse with Dean about his stupidity and—he being so much larger—threatened to break my arm, maybe even snap it right off.

Of course, the natural response was to tell him, “Do it, I dare you.”

In response, here came Chuck to the rescue. He jumped in front of me and growled, “No one breaks my girl’s arm!” Then the bell rang, and he scattered. But don’t worry.

Apparently, Dean was embarrassed and as he started to walk away, I made him repeat what Chuck had said. You know, just to make sure I’d heard it right.

Ladies and gentlemen, that was officially the first and last time I was the crushee; being the crushor was way more my style. Chuck continued to like me for a few more months before losing interest as most guys did, and moving on to another girl with a sleek French braid.

I almost wish I had given him a chance because then, maybe I wouldn’t have stayed single for decades more. He was a knucklehead, sure, but he really cared about me and was willing to get knocked out by Dean if it meant “saving my life.”

What a sacrifice. Truly, Chuck was the last ounce of chivalry in the world.

As of today, Chuck is married to a model from Switzerland, so who’s the real loser here?

Join the conversation

Like Love Haha Wow Sad Angry
Post a comment
0 Likes 0 Comments
Like Love Haha Wow Sad Angry

Become a Book Nerd

When you’re not reading books, read our newsletter.

By clicking Sign Up, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to Penguin Random House's
Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.