Image: qi bin
When I was 20 I thought I had fallen in love with a boy. He had sharp cheekbones and expressive eyes and I wrote him countless poems, trying to somehow show how I felt. I think he wrote me one back – a strange, sad sonnet, stuffed into the back of a blog that I stumbled upon months after our demise. It described me as “subversive”.
I think that’s the best way anyone has ever described me.
Subversive. Insurgent. Renegade. Agitator.
Like I somehow managed to revolutionise his entire outlook on life.
I don’t think he meant it like that at all, but I’ll take what I get from the lovers who’ve lost me.
When he left it felt like I couldn’t breathe. I can still remember clutching my heart on the train home, sobbing over how unfair everything seemed to be. It was all so raw, so painful, so desperately sad. I think I described myself as a “rubbed raw, icy footed, miscommunicated mess”. I think I described him as “right and good and lovely”.
I think everything was a little too dramatic to be honest.
3 years later, I am completely healed from my brief cosmic dalliance, this dance with desire and despair, and sobbing his name repeatedly on public transport. I found myself a million miles away from the person I was on that train platform, light-years ahead of the me who considered that boy to be the best thing that had ever happened – because better, more exciting, kinder things have happened since. I found myself in a bar belting Wheatus and having my hair lightly ruffled by a mutual friend. He grabbed me by the shoulders and looked me in the eyes and told me that he thinks I’ve outgrown the person who made me feel all those things.
Do you hear that? I’ve outgrown him.
That’s so wild. I used to be convinced that I never would, that I’d stay stuck on that train platform forever, that I’d be devastated and miserable without that little patch of sunlight shining on my life.
But I breathed through it all. I breathed and I lived a little bit more each day and I discovered my own resilience in the midst of my disappointment. Then eventually I stopped telling myself to breathe, I just did. I stopped choosing him and chose myself instead. That sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? Like I should have been choosing myself from the start, I should have remembered the golden rule of “I am number 1 and everyone else must fall in line behind me”. I think when you’re young and someone kisses your palms like they hold entire galaxies, you start to believe that the universe can only exist within you if they keep telling you it does. Turns out the cosmos have been lying dormant in my chest this entire time, waiting for me to acknowledge their perennial existence regardless of whether or not that other person reminded me of them.
In two weeks time none of this is going to matter. You are going to be breathing despite your doubt, you are going to find everything a little easier. Your patch of sunlight is going to expand with each dust-mote and beam that finds its way onto your bedroom floor, you’re going to be okay.
Just keep loving yourself, and loving the people who ruffle your hair and tell you you’ve grown. Just keep filling yourself up with good human connection, and trust whatever process you believe is out there, because there is one.
You’ll be okay, there are asteroid belts wrapped around your lungs and super novas in your soul. You’ll be okay.