The only parts of the past that still exist are the ones that we carry with us. The only parts that are still real are the lessons learned, the scars on our skin, the homes we build and remain in, the people who still walk beside us.
See, we don’t really walk away from anything in our lives. We simply outgrow them. It’s really rare that anything severs or breaks because of a lack of love. If there weren’t any love, we wouldn’t have bonded or attached to it in the first place.
We don’t walk away because we run out of love. We walk away because we run out of growth.
We walk away not because we aren’t still enamored by someone, but because we know that their plans and our plans are incompatible, and we aren’t willing to sacrifice our souls for their hearts. We walk away not because we stop feeling that warmth in our chests when we look down the streets of a city we love, we leave because we know we have no future there. We leave when staying is unsustainable. We leave when a better option exists, even if we still do very much love what we’re walking away from.
Because the truth is that you’re going to fight with every person you are in a relationship with, often about similar things, and with similar intensity. The truth is that you’re going to lose jobs and make enemies absolutely anywhere you live. You cannot immunize yourself to life by placing yourself in perfect circumstances. You cannot escape from reality through the perfect person or apartment or five-year plan.
The truth is that everything is going to hurt you, everything is going to challenge you, everything is going to be difficult sometimes. But the people and places you stay with — the ones you continue to carry with you — are the ones who are growing in the same direction as you.
The relationships that make it aren’t the ones that are the most perfect at the onset, they’re the ones in which both people resolve arguments and agree that they never want to fight like that again. They’re the ones in which two partners have a similar dream, one that glues them together even when times are tough. They’re the ones in which two people are so inherently connected to one another, their futures are entwined, they’re one in the same.
The places you stay in aren’t always the ones you expect. They aren’t always the ones that are the most inspiring, or the coolest, or the most perfect. They’re the ones in which you plant roots, and you blossom. They’re the ones in which you serendipitously find the right home and the right friends and it all begins to unfold. They’re the ones in which you forge the best connections, and find the most reasonable rent, and know, deep down, that remaining there will enable you to create the future that you want.
Do you understand the difference? We don’t walk away from anything because we stop loving it, we walk away when there’s nothing left to fight for. We walk away when our desire for the future is so inherently misaligned, we have no choice but to choose again. We walk away when we’re no longer willing to change, to adapt, to be better for another person. We walk away when we realize that we are placating each other more than we are helping each other grow.
We walk away when there’s nothing more to do, and there’s nowhere more to take it. That’s the purpose anything serves in your life: what and who it makes you out to be.
This is how you know whether or not it’s time to let go or to try harder: you ask yourself whether or not that thing is going to make you better or worse over time. You ask yourself whether or not it’s going to help turn you into the person you want to be.
Look — the spark is going to come and go no matter what. You’re never going to look at a person or place with the same fresh, wild eyes you did when you first were introduced. You’re going to get used to your surroundings. You’re going to get used to each other. The newness is going to fade into normalcy, eventually.
What is going to carry you through these times is not your present, it’s the future you’re committing to creating together. And on the flip side, it’s knowing when it’s time to pack up and move because what’s around you is nothing but a series of dead ends and shortstops, isolation and struggle.
You aren’t going to walk away from anything in your life because you decide you don’t love it anymore. Everything we care about goes through phases, earning our affection, withdrawing from it, and coming back to it again. This doesn’t mean it’s wrong. This doesn’t mean it’s time to walk away.
It’s wrong when it’s no longer serving us. It’s wrong when it’s not making us into the people that we want and need to be. It’s wrong when to stay with it or in it, we’d have to sacrifice so much of who we are and what we want, we barely recognize ourselves anymore. It’s wrong when there’s no more growth.
Because there will always be love, no matter how tiny the fractal, how much or hurt or rage it is masked behind. When we love something once, it’s hard to forget that feeling, it’s hard to not hope that it will come back someday. When it’s time to go, it’s because what we are leaving is no longer aiding in our primary purpose in life, which is not actually to be perpetually awestruck and inspired and romanced. It is to become the people we are meant to be, once and for all.