I am going to get on my soapbox for a moment or so- you've been warned.
My love for reading began at a young age, and because of this, I was reading classics at a rather young age. Morgan and I tried to read Emma when we were about in third grade, but that, obviously, didn't work so well. However, I first read Pride and Prejudice on my own in about seventh grade. I instantly decided that I needed to find my own Mr. Darcy; that outlook on life never really changed. Occasionally, I would decide that I wanted a Knightly more so than a Darcy, but I was always looking for Austen's ideal romantic.
This being said, I was taunted a bit for my romantic ideals by friends, parents of friends, and even boyfriends. It's not that any of them were ever mean about it, it was just always, "Oh, Emma. So in love with Darcy. The hopeless romantic." As high school drew to an end, it became a bit irritating to me as people began to say, "You're such a hopeless romantic. You will be married right off the bat at BYU." A. Yes, I am a hopeless romantic B. Please don't make that sound like such a bad thing and C. What does that have to do with my being a teenage bride? Nothing. People said this to me constantly and I would just smile and laugh and say, "Ya.... probably not (insert big false grin here)".
Now, two years down the road, I'm not married, and I always just kind of wonder what all those people think. Do they think I had some great feminist awakening inside of me that made me determined to not get married "right off the bat"? Definitely not the case. Do they think that I lost my hopeless romantic side and saw reality and decided marriage wasn't as great as Austen portrays? Nope. Do they think that I just gave up on love? Try again.
The real fact of the matter is, that rather than loose those hopeless romantic ideals that I've had since first reading P&P, I've learned that they're not just ideals, they are in fact, a possible part of reality. I've found love (even more so than I did in High School, because yes, I do believe I truly loved people in high school) and I decided that I wasn't going to give up on my Mr. Darcy because, why would I do that when I know he's out there? The boys I dated at BYU, specifically Jacob and Garrett, showed me that I can prove all those nay-sayers wrong: the modern Mr. Darcy-MY Mr. Darcy- is not a thing of fiction, and he's worth the wait to find him. There are boys that will still "write you lines", and dance with you, and bring you flowers, and quote you Shakespeare, and tell you that you have, bewitch them mind, body, and soul.
The other fact of the matter is that being a hopeless romantic does not mean that we expect our men to be perfect. Quite the opposite, in fact. Any great romantic knows that the perfection of Darcy and Bingley and Knightly and Edward Ferrars is that they make mistakes. Neither the heros nor the heroines of Austen's novels fall perfectly in love. There are jilted hearts and mixed up emotions, months of separation and confessions of love that aren't always eloquent and beautiful. Their love is not perfect, and it takes work, and sometimes (as in Marianne's case in S&S) it feels as if your heart will never heal again.
So yes, I am a hopeless romantic. No, that does not mean that I am out of touch with society, and no, it does not mean that I will get married the second I fall in love with someone. I can fall in love multiple times, and every time, it can be just as real and just as true. Please, just let me be a hopeless romantic. You don't have to believe in romance in the same manner that I do, but I would like to be respected and taken seriously.
An unmarried, BYU Junior, Hopeless Romantic.