Photo provided by Kayla Padilla
The birth of my love-advice column was rooted in my childhood obsession with wanting to be unlike my parents. Growing up, “with love alone you’ll never survive” was my family’s motto. It was meant to remind me that no form of love could ever be greater than the need to work and be successful; love on its own couldn’t pay the bills, nor get you anywhere in life. Despite hearing this repeatedly, not once did I believe that our desire for affection was tangential to the core aspects of our lives.
Growing up, I was awkward, to say the least. A closeted kid who felt ashamed of being queer, I often resorted to writing stories of LGBTQIA+ characters as a way to live through them. Writing stories was a form of expressing my desires that I had to suppress in all other aspects of my life. I hid my writings inside books, school journals or even under my mattress to assure my parents wouldn’t find these taboo expressions of passion.
At times I wished I had been born a boy so I could get the opportunity to date women. I was constantly bombarded with my friends’ boy troubles that seemed to be never-ending. I always thought, “if I was allowed to date girls, I’d be the best partner ever!” And now that I am openly queer, I’ve vowed to keep that promise. I would fantasize about being with women but would stop myself from ever indulging these fantasies to the point where I would get upset. In fact, it was around elementary school when I remember praying to God that although I would never marry a woman, I might just kiss one.
I decided to start my love-advice column because frankly, I’ve been sharing love advice since I could first understand the brokenness in my parents’ relationship. Ten years ago, I believed that hearts could be healed with writing and the “rearrangement of words.” In the midst of arguments, I struggled to have my voice heard because I was “merely a child.” Love isn’t as easy as making up a formula, my parents would tell me. I needed to be grounded in reality, and reality was accepting that all these romantic fantasies I had would be crushed by love that was mean, uncaring, and unromantic. To me, that wasn’t love at all.
Were it not for my optimism, I could have very well grown up to believe that love was inevitably tragic. I will admit, however, that being optimistic isn’t as fun as they make it seem in movies. You know how the scene goes, the black sheep of the community says something like, “I do believe in love,” and the whole theatre sways and lets out deep sighs of love. Instead, holding onto the idea of something that hasn’t existed in your life feels discouraging, isolating and, quite honestly, silly. My life often did feel like a movie, except all the characters around me were really bad at memorizing their lines.
10 years ago, I imagined that by the age of 20, I’d be some famous author who was touring the world doing book signings. While that reality isn’t unattainable, at the age of 20, I am a university student writing love advice for my campus publication. And if I could go back to my 10-year-old self and tell her that in the future, she’d be putting her silly advice to use, I think she’d be very, very happy to hear this so.