I used to be afraid of what people would think if they really knew how broken I have been.
How do you explain to a new friend how having parents who battle addiction has shaped you? How do you talk about the times you let your guard down and ended up heartbroken and devastated? My Quarterlife Crisis hit hard when my live-in boyfriend of 3.5 years walked out a week before I defended my masters thesis (talk about timing, eh?). My best laid plans for my future came tumbling down and 5 weeks later I was living on my own for the very first time, in a new place, in a new job; totally alone. The quarterlife crisis suckerpunched me. Hard.
My friends called me brave: moving to a new place and making a new life. I didn’t feel brave. I felt like I was in survival-mode. It took months before I let myself feel much of anything, and when I did let myself feel I was overwhelmed with the pain. I didn’t know how to be sad. I was supposed to be “the happy one”. I ran from the loneliness and dove into new experiences hoping to find something to numb the pain. Eventually, I couldn’t run anymore and I had to deal with the pain. I had to learn that to be truly happy, I had to learn to be sad as well. I had to learn to embrace the quarterlife crisis not just as a crisis, but as a way to embrace new chances.
This past year has been transformative and hard. I focused on fixing my heart. I learned how to be alone. I had to learn the basics of who I was all over again. I created community. I began to fall in love with my life.
Here is some of what I learned:
Despite the scars of pain I am hopelessly romantic and optimistic. (Sickeningly so.) I am not just open to new people, loves, experiences… I am SO EXCITED for what’s to come I can hardly stand it.
I don’t have to do it alone. I went from knowing no one to having a friend-family in what seemed to be 3-seconds. The creation of a community that I love is the source of a gratuitous amount of laughter and they are who carry me through the hardest times. I am not only talking about my local friends, I am including my blogger friends in my community-of-love. Friendships built over blogs, google talk, Skype, and phone calls; just as real, intentional, powerful, and important as my local community. I am surrounded by love and friendship in a way that boggles my mind. My community is the proof that I am doing something right.
I chose happiness. I’ve been told that my happiness is infectious and I can find beauty everywhere. I think that every single hard day makes these two qualities more beautiful; my happiness is not naive.. My happiness is my truth. I know the world is full of more happiness, love, and beauty than you can even imagine.
So, what’s next? I can feel that big things are coming; huge, momentous things.
This is the year I am going to decide what I want to be defined by. I know I am not defined by my quarterlife crisis. I know what I am not defined by: heartbreak, parents with addictions, or that really awful outfit I wore the first day of school years ago.
This is the year for really figuring out what I want and need and then GOING AND GETTING IT. No more waiting. This is the year I take ownership of my life and make it spectacular.