This essay was selected as an honorable mention submission from Street's Love Issue personal narrative contest. Read some of our other favorite pieces here and look out for new pieces as we publish them throughout the week!
Anybody who knows me knows that I have harbored a harmless crush on one of my professors. Okay, two of my professors. Okay, maybe like two professors a semester, but who cares? I think it teaches me how to love and let go. Of course, it’s just a tiny crush—I just raise my hand at every possible occasion during lecture. Memorize their CV as some light bedtime reading, quoting it to my friends the next day.
Ah, the professor crush, probably the most tragic and heartbreaking of all crushes. It's the definition of unrequited love. You don’t know sadness until you attend their office hours and see a picture of their family on the desk (because you were in denial about the ring on the left hand until that point…), and then you realize that you couldn’t have done anything about it even if they were single. Even if pursuing this wasn’t foolish, unethical, and strictly against University policy, why would such an intellectually powerful figure want anything to do with me? I can barely add double–digit numbers in my head.
Don’t forget the trauma of taking their exams: why do the people we love hurt us so badly? Last semester, I took a class taught by a professor who I loved so much that I decided to concentrate in his subject. I felt like I had gone through a long, bloody breakup after taking my first exam. But, when I went to following lecture after that exam, I felt whole again after spending an hour and a half with my favorite person at Penn (and the other 100 people in the hall, but they’re irrelevant). This pattern continued until the third and last exam, after which I had to bid farewell to my professor. I fell in love with another one the next semester.
Despite this pain and sadness, I think that a professor crush is the purest, most beautiful crush of all. Obviously, nobody can do anything about their so–called “feelings” for his or her professor, but I think that the imaginary, impossible nature of this crush is what makes it so idyllic. They can’t really break your heart, because they have no clue of your obsession in the first place. Your professor can’t forget your anniversary, because you’ll never have one. Your professor can’t dump you because of your boring personality—they probably don’t even know your name.
What bliss! A good professor has character traits far superior than those of your run–of–the–mill boyfriend. Maybe your professors aren’t the most attractive, but in my opinion, if you look hard enough at anyone from far enough away they’ll eventually seem cute. It’s a bonus when they’re easy on the eyes, though. Great professors have the rare ability to make sense out of abstractness, the ability to make boring things interesting. And try comparing that to your lame SO, whose idea of a good time is Netflix and Chill. Professors pique your curiosity and push you to learn new things. Case in point: last semester, the aforementioned professor of mine told us about a new class that he was introducing next year. Learn new things and spend more time with my love? Sign me up. That very day, I spent an hour or so adjusting my four–year plan so I could make room for his class. The things you do for love. What a reunion it will be in the spring of 2019.
When I asked my friends what they thought about Penn’s dating scene, 100% of them said that it was just about hooking up. Some said it was hard to find something real when the majority of people on campus were just interested in something casual. Nowadays, people look for love within other people, instead of appreciating the beauty of love itself. When there’s a chance of rejection, people become self–conscious, superficial, and sometimes even change who they are to please the other person. After all that exhaustion, it’s completely awful if there is no reciprocation. With your professor, you have the chance to eliminate all this drama because you know your only option with him or her is a semester’s worth of silent infatuation.
Tired of getting your heart stomped on by that hot guy Chad from Alpha–Gabba–Miu–Miu who hooks up with you at frat parties and then ignores you the next day? Forget about him and discover the beauty of your funny, intelligent professor! Immerse yourself in their subject. Daydream about holding an intelligent conversation about their research. Be seduced not by possibility, but by an exquisite impossibility that meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 1:30–3:00.
Fall in love with love again. Fall in love with a pure, unadulterated love that involves no rejection and mandates no action or commitment. Someone would probably get fired if it did.