It all started with a quote by Jane Austen. Not author Jane Austen, speaking through Elizabeth Bennet or Emma Woodhouse or some other character, but real Jane Austen, speaking in a letter and using her own voice.
“To you I shall say, as I have often said before,
Do not be in a hurry, the right man will come at last.” – Jane Austen
While I’m not going to go so far as to say that this quote led me to my boyfriend, it was on my mind when I met him for the first time, and it has been on my mind a lot recently. I’ve been counseling and giving advice to a few of my single friends, and these wise words from one of the greatest authors of all time (although arguably not as great as my girl Charlotte Brontë, but that’s a whole different blog post for a different time) have been spiraling in my brain non-stop. Bottom line, Jane is so so right in saying that the perfect guy is out there and that it just takes a little patience to find him.
I know this first hand – and if you’ll all sit with me here for awhile, maybe grab a cup of tea or a blueberry scone like the one I’m currently eating, I’d love to tell you the story of how I met SS, the man I spent years and years waiting for.
I didn’t meet SS on Tinder, we didn’t bump into each other buying drinks at a bar. I didn’t even know SS existed until, one day, after class during the second semester of my Master’s degree I sat down across from him. That’s right: SS and I met organically, naturally, and in the most fairytale/movie-like way possible. I was at my beloved University of Toronto (which I can’t now begrudge in any way, because not only did the school give me two degrees, it also gave me a boyfriend!), finishing up my last seminar for the week, and I had a 20 page reading that I really wanted to get finished before the weekend got started. I would normally have taken the train home right away and finished my reading there, but I remembered that my mom was at work and that my dad and brother were at home alone. I knew that if I went home to read, they would start talking to me, asking me questions and favours, and it would take me double the time to finish the measly chapter. So, in a truly Fateful moment, I decided to go and read at Hart House before making the trip home.
When I entered the eating area in Hart House, I saw that it was pretty full and there weren’t any tables available. There were several seats available at some of the larger tables though, so I thought, Why not go and ask to sit down across from someone? And that’s what I did! I randomly picked a table, not even looking at who was sitting at it, and asked the guy there if he minded if I took the seat across from him. He said No, I smiled and thanked him…and the rest is history!
Like actually – the guy I ended up sitting across from was none other than SS himself! As I was sitting there, minding my own business and reading, I kept feeling someone’s eyes on me and every time I glanced up, I noticed that the guy across from me was looking at me and smiling. I smiled back to be polite, but the whole time I was thinking, Why on Earth does this guy keep looking at me? I saw that he was really good looking and definitely seemed nice enough, but I just kept thinking, If I had a nickel for every time a guy smiled at me in a library and never said anything, I’d be rich enough to move to England and find my Mr. Rochester! So, let’s just say that my expectations were extremely low: it seemed like the guy enjoyed looking at me, but I did not expect him to talk to me at all.
Imagine my surprise when he randomly started a conversation with me, asking what book I was reading and what I was studying. I was super impressed and I’m also friendly, so I engaged in a long-ish conversation with him about Medieval literature and philosophy. Once again, my expectations were low because these short conversations happen all the time in life…so I was completely and utterly shocked when he got up to leave about 15 minutes later and…ASKED FOR MY PHONE NUMBER! I was basically stunned and so so confused because things like that rarely (if ever) happen to me. I gave him my number and he texted me on the spot so that I would have his, which was so new for me considering that I usually spent days waiting for guys to text me back. When he left, I told a couple of my friends and my mom what had happened, but I again didn’t expect him to text me or ask me out or anything because, let’s be real, things like that don’t happen outside of movies or novels!
But, he did text me, the very next day, and a week later we had our first date. It’s been a year and 7 months now and SS is my best friend, my biggest confidante, and someone I cannot imagine my life without. I feel lucky every. single. day. that I decided to go to Hart House that evening, and SS and I talk frequently about how we could’ve missed each other and about how we truly believe Fate (<3) brought us together!
As a lover of Victorian literature, this was absolutely the way I always wanted to meet my soul mate. I envisioned meeting a guy randomly in a coffee shop, or on the street. I hoped that one day a guy would just see me from afar and think, That girl looks amazing and so sweet and I have to get to know her and make her a part of my life. But, I was also single for a VERY long time (22 years to be exact), and I had started to give up hope before meeting SS. So, when my single friends are discouraged and lonely, I totally understand where they are coming from, because I was in their position for so long.
The best advice I can think to give them though, is the advice that Jane Austen gave me: the right man is out there, he’s anxiously waiting to meet you, but you have to be patient and let him find you; and you have to be willing to realize and accept when a guy you may really like is not the perfect one for you. Believe me, I know what a struggle it is, I know how hard it is to meet people and I know that not everyone sits down across from their future husband…but these crazy romantic stories do happen every day, and so there’s always reason to be hopeful.
And one thing I will say is that I think the nature of today’s society is getting in the way of romance a little. I don’t think Tinder is the absolute worst way to meet someone, and I do think it works really well for some people – but I do think it encourages people to be extra picky and maybe even to reject people that they could have wonderful relationships with. If I’m being totally honest (sorry SS!), I definitely would’ve swiped left on my boyfriend, no question, for one very simple reason: he is a year younger than me. Sure, I would’ve seen his pictures and thought he was cute, but I never imagined myself with someone younger, so I would’ve rejected him pretty quickly. Or worse, he never would’ve appeared on my feed because my age range settings would’ve eliminated him. I would’ve lost out on the most incredible guy based on something so superficial…and that is a terrifying thought!
So, what I would say to my dear single friends is, Yes, enjoy Tinder, enjoy going to bars and parties, enjoy socializing in various forms…but also know that the man you’re looking for could be right beside you (or across from you), and he may not look or act at all like you expected your dream man would. But that’s what’s so beautiful about love…it’s unexpected and magical and it requires moving outside your comfort zone, thinking outside the list you’re trying to check items off of. Tinder can’t tell you who the perfect man for you is, and neither can a checklist or your very best friend. Only your heart can tell you who the right man is…and when he has come, at last.
Janille N G
Girl with a Green (and Full!) Heart