For When You Think Your Heart Is Broken:

Love is a funny thing.

I love the smell of campfire smoke in my hair; I love laughter at 2am; I love that first sip of espresso that still has unmelted whipped cream. I also love my family and my friends and my co-workers, or my second and third families as I like to call them.

Sometimes, “Love” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be though.

After the semi-recent end of my first long-term relationship, I had to come to terms with what I defined “Love” as, who I was at that point in my life, and who I hoped to be. Needless to say, I felt pretty lost at first. I had come to view my life and everything I did through the tinted lenses of what I believed my ex-boyfriend wanted, and suddenly those rose-colored lenses were gone. Luckily, I had a whole summer in a new city to re-discover myself.

There is still pain I try to hide that resurfaces every now and then, mainly questions. Why? Why now? Why not me? What was so scary about the future? I imagine a drastic wake-up call came for him one morning, where the future became crystal clear without me. At least, I’d like to hope so. It’s safer than imagining the twisting doubts building throughout the final months we had together.

Love is blind. Cliche, I know, but very true. Sometimes, when you love someone, you make excuses for them. These excuses can build and build until you no longer know why you love someone or something, or even who they are or have become. The truth is scary. But, with my blindfold and the aforementioned rose-colored glasses of puppy love removed, I could set forth on the path to self-discovery. (Yes, I am a walking basket of cliche sayings. Deal with it.)

I am a logical person, for the most part, so I quickly tried to divert my attention to fill the void I felt. Add another social media app to my phone to ignore the heart-emoji texts I wasn’t receiving; add another project- or two, or three- at work to stay late at the office until my mind was too numb with data to feel anything other than a sugar high from copious amounts of RedBull. After at least a month of this distraction, I realized that my plan was working. In all the wrong ways. I may have forgotten how empty I felt, but I still didn’t know how to make myself happy.

Here’s where my families come in.

My family supported me when I moved to another state, for an internship at a social media app that they didn’t fully understand. (Download Yik Yak in the app store.)

My friends sat on the phone with me for hours when I simply needed a familiar voice.

And finally, my work family, my blessed herd, welcomed me with open arms. I was a tiny intern who was pretty much too afraid to speak up in group settings, but they treated me as an equal. Through this group of wonderful individuals, I was reminded of what love truly should be.

My final thought when leaving the office for the summer, after packing up my desk and assorted Yak-themed supplies, was that my heart was breaking again. Except this time it had not shattered; it was overflowing. Saying goodbye to my new family was the worst break-up I have experienced. We both still wanted to be together, but could not be.

Moving into my Senior year this Fall, I have many lessons to remember from this Summer:

  1. Be who you are, not who others want you to be. (“I am a strong, independent woman who don’t need no man.”)
  2. Don’t be afraid to break down the walls you have put up. (Other people can’t help you if you don’t let them know the struggles you are facing.)
  3. Smile more- genuinely. (You never know who’s watching.)
  4. Hug someone every day. (Simply because hugs are nice, and you never know when someone secretly needs one that day.)
  5. Ride the Yak. (My campus herd is my fourth family, a constant support that I can turn to.)

In short, to conclude this mini-memoir that’s run all over the place more than a 100 lb. girl hyped up on 3 cans of RedBull, I know that I am not yet where I need to be in my self-discovery. And that’s okay. I know the path to my future is lined with my families cheering me on. And doughnuts- there’s probably a lot of doughnuts along the way as well. I am happy again. Because of their support I have found my voice.

I know what “Love” is.

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