Where’s the line between pursuing love and asking for public humiliation? Author Rebecca Renner walked that line about four weeks ago — and she fell off onto the wrong side.
Renner did something straight out of a romantic comedy — the kind with an emotional and dramatic ending. On May 21, she told her 125,000 Twitter followers that she was about to take a big risk for love.
“Last night, a personal tragedy reminded me that life is uncertain and too [expletive] short,” Renner tweeted. “So I booked a plane ticket, and I’m about to fly across the country to tell the love of my life how I feel. Wish me luck! And don’t wait another day to tell those you love that you love them.”
There was an outpouring of support from people who followed her trip and excitedly awaited the outcome. A lot of people who’ve wanted a romantic story for themselves were eager to live through her boldness.
It wasn’t too long before Renner reported what happened — and her mood had changed. She posted the photo above with a brief report.
“Well, this is me in my [expletive] motel room after getting rejected,” Renner tweeted. “I don’t know whether to be sad or angry, but I’ll live to love another day. Hopefully that love will be for someone who values it. Sorry to disappoint you, Twitter.”
After a firestorm of condemnation and ridicule for her, Renner announced that she was taking a month off of social media. She hasn’t been back since.
I didn’t find out about this story until a few days after it happened, but it struck me in an emotional way. I didn’t quite admire her the way the earliest replies did, but I also didn’t condemn her the way the later replies did.
I guess I just had a sick feeling that I could almost see myself doing something so incredibly foolish. The only difference is that even if I’d done it, I would know not to talk about it until it was over.
I’m an idealist and a romantic. I’ve gone through enough heartbreak and loss that I don’t want to see how things could be. It hurts to know how good things could be. I’d rather be a cold, hard cynic, but I simply can’t be.
I will always have a soft spot in my heart for people who pursue the things they love, the things they need, the things they long for.
There’s a part of me that wants to make fun of Renner — to point out that she came across as a dysfunctional and emotional woman who did something crazy. That’s an easy interpretation and I couldn’t quite argue with someone who wanted to make that case.
But I understand why she did it.
I look at the photo she posted with the original tweet — the one below — and I think about how she must have felt behind those eyes. Something happened in her life — some tragedy, maybe a death — to remind her that life is short. Whatever it was made her realize how much she needed to use every precious day — and that reminded her that she needed to take a chance on the love she needed.
I know what it’s like to feel that. I know what it’s like to need that — to feel the clock of life ticking, to feel as though I’m waiting for life to start, to feel as though I can’t live another day without the love I need.
I know how she must’ve felt. I understood what drove her. And there’s a part of me that wishes I could act out that desperation by taking an insane chance.
And even though I don’t know this woman — and nothing about her life will ever intersect mine — I feel heartbroken for her that she couldn’t have the love she needed. There is no deprivation — no unfilled hunger — that’s quite like that.
I also know that I’m too pragmatic to take the chance she took. If I can’t know that someone wants me, I can’t announce to the world that I’m flying across the country to humiliate myself.
Being a human being is difficult. Even if you take no risks, you’re going to get hurt. But if you live with courage and take big chances to win the things you need, you’re going to be hurt even more.
Which risks are worth taking? I can’t decide for you. I can barely even decide for myself.
I’m cynical enough to want to take no chances anymore, but I’m idealistic enough to know I’ll take some more anyway — because I’m enough of a romantic to believe that some big chance is finally going to pay off. And I’ll finally find the right love.