1. You find out who your friends are.
Growing up in a military family, my friends were more temporary than anything. I never knew what it was like to have a friend know everything about you and love you anyway. Until this past year often felt like I had more fake friends than real ones at school. I finally had the opportunity to make friends without having to worry about what someone else thought, and I made some great ones. It’s not until you’re sobbing out front of a frat house at 2am on Halloween that you realize who your life long friends are.
2. “Friend love” is the best kind of love.
So many of my memories from college have to do with my ex, but so many more have to do with the other incredible people in my life. When I look back on my happiest times I’m reminded of the little things, like all the nights my roommate and I would drink a bottle of wine and dance around the apartment in our underwear. I think about lacrosse tailgates and Karaoke Wednesdays at our favorite bar and lazy Sundays watching Sex and the City. I learned that there is a whole different kind of love out there that can make you feel just as complete as the romantic kind can.
3. Self-discovery is a journey.
For a long time I thought that I was in a rush to figure out exactly who I was and exactly what I was going to do with my life. Somewhere along the way I lost myself. Since I’ve had my heart broken I’ve learned that I have an obligation to myself to follow my own dreams and find the things that make me happy. I’ve learned that I have a deeply rooted need to care for others, and that very few things make me happier than having brunch with my friends on Sunday. There are so many little pieces of myself that make me who I am, and I look forward to discovering more pieces every day.
4. Confidence takes time too.
Confidence is something that I have always struggled with. I used to be one of those people who spent all of my time striving to be better because I was comparing myself to others, not because I wanted to be better for myself. I’ve recently learned to set goals that matter to me and not to do things simply because of what other people are doing. My confidence has been growing for a while now, and I’m feeling more awesome and more fulfilled than ever.
5. Happiness comes when you least expect it.
If you had told me one year ago that I would be as happy and loved as I am today, I would have thought you were crazy. For a long time I believed that happiness was found in relationships, and without one I didn’t know what to do. It turns out that I wasn’t looking in the right places. I’ve found happiness in friends, volunteering, brunch, and karaoke. It’s been on hikes and at yoga and at a job that I love. I’ve found happiness in so many unexpected places; I can’t believe I never saw it before.
6. Your first love is worth so much.
My first love was the kind that every teenage girl dreams of. It was passionate and exciting, and it made me feel like I couldn’t breath. The boy was the guy that mothers loved, fathers respected, and friends gushed over. It was the first relationship that made me look towards the future and want to be a better person. It taught me how to put someone else’s needs before my own. Most importantly, it taught me about change. We both changed and grew as our relationship went on, and somewhere along the way we grew apart, and that’s okay. I learned so much from my first relationship. I wouldn’t change anything about it, and I’m eternally grateful to have experienced such an incredible first love.