Cross Currents: Should I follow my heart or pursue my own goals?

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN


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Amy Riggs and boyfriend at the time Connor McLeod at Cannon Beach Ore.

Amy Riggs and Elias Loefgren

College romances can be a fling, or the real thing. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell the difference. So when the time comes to transfer schools, should you stay with the one you love, or follow your own passions?


When I fell in love it felt like magic, like I was living in a dream. There is no denying the power of love, especially when you don’t expect it. We were young, we were passionate, and absolutely certain of each other.

He told me from the beginning how much he loved his job as a ski instructor at Mammoth Mountain in California. 

We met in the beginning of the summer, and were attached at the hip by the end. Watching almost every sunset together, skinny dipping at night, making breakfast at 2 p.m., and cruising by the beach in my car blasting music.

We avoided reality as long as we could, lost in the lust of each other. We couldn’t bear to think of separating. 

Our deadline of us being apart was approaching faster than both of our heartbeats, as he nervously blurted out “I love you.”

He helped me move into my dorm, and the next six months dragged on. All we wanted was each other. 

Thousands of miles apart and a time difference, we kept our love strong. In fact, it grew more.

“We could take over the world together,” we thought. We tried to do the right thing, so we left each other in pursuit of finding what we thought we needed in our individual lives. 

I explained to him my passion for inspiring kids, how I was in school for teaching but I was not sure if that was the end goal for me. We always talked of our love for music, traveling, being in nature and our intention of wanting to help the world somehow.

When someone loves you and really sees you for you, it inspires you. It changes you for the better, because you want to be the best for that person. 

It was not an easy decision to drop out of school and choose to move across the country for him. I debated it countless times, wrote down the pros and cons and talked to everyone I knew in search of the right answer.

The logical answer was to stay and not take the risk of everything potentially failing.

Logic was not working, I felt unaligned, it felt like a fear-based decision. So, I chose love. Something I knew I deserved.

I went for something I knew would make me more happy. Facing the judgment and ridicule of some friends and some family I met him out there.

This undeniable opportunity came to me at a point in my life when I was searching for something more. A decision I knew could give me experiences to expand and learn about what I wanted from a career.

I would not change a single thing about making that decision. Even though my relationship with him did not end well, I realized at the end of the day, it was me I had the whole time.

I learned to rebuild myself and continue to move forward, valuing my own life, and working towards empowering myself.

I am not going to tell you to do it, but if you are willing to take the risk, if it feels right, and you prepare to take the journey of unexpected learning experiences, then you should. 


College is an experience and a journey where you learn, move forward towards your career goals and create memories that you’ll have for the rest of your life.

Having a long distance relationship during college is really hard.

I’m currently in one with my girlfriend whom I’ve been with for five years, who lives in Sweden. I understand feeling like you can’t be away from each other or having doubts that your relationship will be able to survive the distance.

However, your future belongs to you, and a relationship built on living for another person could never last. You shouldn’t rob yourself of the college experience or abandon a career you want for a relationship.

If your major exists at your partner’s college and you feel it’s a good choice for you, go for it. But it shouldn’t be a decision you make because your partner is going there.

I moved halfway across the world to pursue my academic goals and attend college. 

I did it because I knew what I wanted and my girlfriend wouldn’t have stopped me from going.

At all times, you should prioritize yourself because in the end you’re the only one that knows what you want to do. 

Life is full of hard decisions, but investing in your future is better than settling for someone who is going to hold you back.

Attending different colleges also allows the time you actually spend together to be a lot more special. 

I was fortunate enough to have my girlfriend come visit during winter break and it was the best time we’ve had during our five years together.

Long distance also tests your relationship. If you can make it through four years of college and only see each other during breaks, you can make it through anything and everything that comes your way. 

Setbacks will happen, they do in all relationships, once you make it to the otherside, it’s all worth it.