I don’t know if the twenties are meant to be a tumultuous rollercoaster of emotions and thoughts and everything in between, but my first year within them seems to be ending that way. I feel as if I’m riding on a freshly broken horse in the rolling foothills, reacting to every jarring step and stumbling over rocks jutting out of the ground. It’s like I can feel as high as a bird in the sky one moment (figuratively high, that is, ahem), then as low as an earthworm grubbing its way through the dirt.
If I feel a lack of something I know I truly, inherently need, then I break.
Innately, I know what the missing part is that I’m looking for. It’s the thing we all chase after, what some people spend their lifetimes looking for, the evasive shadow we are simultaneously running from but trying to hold onto with all our might.
Love is wonderful. The love I receive and know that I have with my family is the absolute kind, as love between parents and children/siblings is meant to be. It’s a soft place to fall, a warm ear to talk to at the end of a hard day, when everything seems to be too much. There’s also the love I have for the select individuals in my life that I call friends. It comes in varying degrees, but it’s there. Even for the friends that have drifted away in their own lives, I still hold massive amounts of affection and respect for.
I have a great life. I do well in school, I go to a nice little job every week, and I have an internship in the field I want to work in. I live cozily in my own apartment, and I get to live and study in France next year. I’m lucky.
It’s just that one factor that I don’t have, the one thing that’s missing. It’s the lack of love I experience in my own life, the love that I don’t see all around me. Its noticeably absent presence makes me wonder where I messed up. How much of this emptiness is my own doing?
People always made college seem like the time when the old barriers we put up to keep others out would fall away, that the things that mattered as teenagers wouldn’t matter anymore. We were meant to see beyond the surface, beyond the major differences in our upbringings and cultures. For the most part, I have found this to be true. But again, old habits play out and people tend to stick to the much of the same, what they know and what is safe.
I tried to be a part of something for my first two years in college. It was a great organization with some really wonderful people, but I knew after a while it wasn’t for me. Maybe it’s because I don’t do well in large groups, where I can’t get to know each individual person, but anxiety got the better of me as well. It was all too chaotic, being on someone else’s schedule every single week, not being able to choose what I wanted to do on any particular evening, when I just wanted to unwind. It stressed me out to think that I would be bound to this organization and forced to play by rules that I didn’t agree with. A prime example of why I would never do well in corporate America.
I also discovered that it is entirely possible to be in a room full of nice, generous people and feel utterly alone.
I feel as if I can’t really call my college years a success until I have the love that everyone else seems to have, the close bonds that people have formed with other likeminded individuals. I long for the love that allows you to call someone in the middle of the afternoon and say, let’s go for pizza. I crave the comfort of being someone’s go-to, not just the one they call in a crisis and vent to for ten minutes straight, but the one they want to simply touch base with. I ache for the wanting to jump into someone’s arms and for them to be happy to see me after a long day. All of these desires culminate into one simple need we all have as humans – to be loved. To be wanted. To be needed.
Maybe for me, it’s all too much to ask for. Maybe I’m too temperamental, too quick to find reasons not to love somebody first. Perhaps I’ve gotten too comfortable in my whole lone-ranger act, and have to realize it will take a hell of a lot more than writing about it to figure it out.
But I know that I have to be my own best friend, the one to love myself first. The depths of depression can hold me down like the devil’s snare and keep me entangled in my own mess of thoughts and feelings that have the ability to control my energy, mentally and physically. If I let the negative energy get the best of me, I’m afraid there will be nothing positive for me to give to others. That I’m doomed to live in the darkness instead of stepping out into the light. That I will keep my heart tucked under my sleeve, instead of letting it beat loudly on my chest.
Maybe it’s affirmation we all really look for. The confirmation that we are indeed good enough people to live on this planet, and the hope that our parents are proud and validated that they birthed and raised us. Maybe it’s time to stop chasing the desire to be proven worthy by society’s standards, and learn to accept ourselves as we are now. To know that despite our obvious flaws and shortcomings, we are still beautiful in our way, perfectly imperfect in someone’s eyes.
I hope one day that I’ll find out what it means to be surrounded by love, to know wholly and undoubtedly that I’m meant to be there. I hope the need for validation will be drowned out by the presence of hearts in the same room, thumping to the same beat. But most of all, I hope that I can learn to pick up the pieces when I feel broken, that I can find the love for myself to put them all back together again.