12/02/2013 07:21 pm ET Updated Feb 01, 2014

Finding Love in Spite of...

From the time we are young enough to comprehend anything we are already dreaming about what we will do, where we will live, and who we will love someday in the future. As we grow, we start becoming more and more impacted by society. Each image and experience shapes those early dreams into more refined expectations. It is good to dream, and it is good to want the best for ourselves.

However, there are only so many countries with so many princes and princesses to go around. We all have something that is not perfect within us, or about us. Life is filled with exceptions.

When we are in the dating world, we are confronted with the pure fact that sometimes expectations and reality do not match up. Our childhood sweetheart may not be the best person to make a life with. The proverbial tall, dark, and handsome stranger, or gorgeous trophy girlfriend may have some serious emotional flaws. Just because your parents met at their first job does not mean you too will find your soul's mate in the cubical across from yours.

Last week I was blown away by this beautiful couple. They met online, they laughed a lot, and most importantly they found love because they fully accepted every piece of each other. What might be considered a non-starter for some couples, actually cemented these two.

Young adult cancer is not something people dream of when they picture themselves in a romance. Illness, in general, is not socially considered a good stepping stone to finding a bright future relationship. For this couple, and for myself, though, that's exactly where love kicked in.

Prior to illness, I had this picture of my life that I was working to make happen. I had my checklist of expectations, and was well on my way to marking them all off as I went along. What was interesting is, although I was happy about reaching each milestone with money, career, and romance, I was not feeling what I thought I would feel. It was only when illness stripped the money, career, and relationship away that I found what was truly important and lasting.

Some people I expected, and some I did not expect, stepped up and loved me in spite of my list, and in spite of my illness. I am now married to one of those unexpected people, and we have a beautiful romance. My finances and career are not anywhere near where my expectations placed them, but I am happier with my life now than I ever was with my checklist of expectations. Perfection in anything is relative to who you are, and where you are in this world. It is okay to revise your dreams to match your deeper understanding of life.

My wish is that everyone will find real love, romantic or otherwise. If you are someone who is looking, my only advice is to examine what is important to you and figure out why it is important. Perhaps loosen your grip on societal perfection. The love story in your head may pale in comparison to the love story that actually awaits you if you are willing to let go and allow it to happen.