Learning to be Okay
It’s gonna be okay, and this is how I know.
When I was 14, I started high school with no friends. Three months later I had a whole new group of girls I thought would be my forever. I loved them and learned lots from them. We spent days sharing our dreams, playlists -- running in empty parking lots and beaches past midnight. We did everything together, until we didn’t. I lost them one by one throughout high school, right until the summer before college. A few months after this, I made new friends—a group of girls and guys I hadn’t known before then. They made me laugh. Really laugh. We didn’t have the same memories, didn’t bleed our hearts out on late nights, but after some time, it was okay. Because things change. People change, and that’s not on you. All you can do is love them for who they are, and let them go when who they are is no longer good or necessary for you. If it was right all along, the universe would send them back. But if not, new people will come. They might not be the same, but it doesn't change the fact that everybody offers you something cool and different. I realized then that friendship comes in all forms, and pretty soon, a year later, I loved them, too. In a different way. I learned to be grateful for loss, because loss can also be a space for something new.
It was okay to lose those friends.
When I was 16, my heart was ripped open by a boy I never even kissed. I swear I knew his soul more than I knew my own, and I loved that part of him so deeply it scared me…it’s these connections you never see coming. That boy and I don’t talk anymore (one day he stopped messaging me), and three years later I only occasionally think of him. But when I hear his name, I no longer flinch. Now he’s a bittersweet memory; a good lesson in loving and losing.
Looking back, I'm okay knowing love doesn't always last.
When I was 17 I had my first kiss in the back of my best friends car. I loved him, but I didn’t know that I was not in love with him. I was not yet in love with myself. So I let his kiss break me. I let myself believe a story that I was never going to the right girl, the sexual girl, the relationship-girl. I was wrong and weird and no one would want me. But what was really wrong is that story. Because I’m not broken. I am exactly who I am and exactly who I should be. Sex, no sex, boy, no boy. Fuck it. All I can do is give what I have and be who I am.
I'm okay because I am enough.
When I was 18 I was hospitalized for panic attacks and depression. I broke down in my car outside my house. My dad couldn’t get me out of the backseat because I was crying so hard. My sister stood watching, unable to comfort me. In that moment, I was every kind of destroyed. I begged my dad to go to the hospital. A crisis therapist recommended treatment at a mental health center in my town, the place where kids went when they needed to "tap out of life for a bit." A reset, perhaps. So I got the break I wanted, and I learned what the therapists wanted me to learn. Though my month there didn’t change everything, it shifted something along the way. I didn’t necessarily live by those lessons at the moment, but it’s okay. All of what I went through was part me and my story. I can’t change it, and I realized that I don’t want to. Changing it would mean I never learned the truth: that one day, it gets better.
One day I would be more okay than the day before. And this would stay true no matter where I go.
Now I’m 19 and I’ve carried a lot of pain, both mine and others. I’ve given up more than I should have to people I love, only to realize they don’t always give it in return. I’ve broken my heart on edges both serrated and smooth, letting all the little things and big things mar me. I’ve kissed another boy. More than kissed him, and tried not to regret it. I’ve felt every feeling on the color wheel and still, I’ve overcome them. I know that I like sad movies and stories that tell us about growing up. I know l I like beautiful places and deep songs and different cultures. I know I love funny people but love real people even more. I know I want to learn everything about anything, including myself.
Every year I’m different than the girl from the year before. In fact, you couldn’t even call them related. And with these facts I remind myself that progress isn’t linear. It moves in erratic waves, like self-esteem or mental health or relationships. It is never the steady rise we hope for, but that’s okay, too. Can you believe how much is okay in the end? Take my story for example if you are every doubting your own. Remember to embrace the rise and falls of your life, of humanity. Love the hard moments for their bitterness. Love the sweet ones for their impermanence. Don’t give up on yourself before you see all that’s in store for you. Because call me crazy, but maybe, just maybe it's going to be okay.