What I Wish I Knew About Love At 20 Years Old

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Audredy Reid

I wish I knew that when he doesn’t call you for one, two, six days in a row, it’s not because he’s playing hard to get – it’s because he’s not interested. I wish I knew that sometimes people just don’t want you, and slowly chipping away at them in an effort to get them to see you for how great you really are only irritates them, and makes you look like a fool. I wish I knew that forcing a formal rejection is not as satisfying as you think it will be – sometimes you really should just let things fade into silence, because it’s much less embarrassing for all parties involved.

Why was I so afraid of that silence? Why did I insist on constant communication, even if that communication was spiraling rapidly downwards? Did it make me feel better somehow to always be in a fight, to always be explaining ourselves, to always be talking things out even when we knew there was nothing discuss? Why could I not just let things go quietly, and accept that we don’t always need to tell each other every mean thing we possibly could? I wish I knew that yelling didn’t mean you were emotionally involved, it often just meant that you were emotionally exhausted, and couldn’t think of any more intelligent way to express yourself.

I wish I knew that mistaking chaos for passion only leaves both of you in tatters.

I wish that when I found those letters with his ex that I didn’t scream, that I didn’t call my friend hyperventilating from inside my shitty car, parked at a shitty gas station. I wish I hadn’t been thinking that whole time that I was going to fix it, because now more than ever, I wanted him for myself. I wish I didn’t see the approach of another woman as a threat, and quickly as competition. If I had known that a man cannot be “stolen,” and that he has to willingly go wherever he ends up, I would never have wasted so much time trying to win him back, or hating her. I would never have gotten caught up in the petty fighting, or gotten a secret thrill from it.

I would have known that if the question is ever between me and another girl, that she should take it, because you should never be one of two options.

I wish I knew that it was okay to say ‘no’ to things, to go home early and not have another drink just because you want to seem chill, and keep the conversation going. I wish I knew that if someone only wants to hang out with you when both of you are altered somehow, that they don’t really want to hang out with you. Maybe I would have missed out on a few very fun nights, but I would have taken better care of myself, and I wouldn’t have taken all the cuts and bruises I accrued along the way. I would have gotten enough sleep, and drank enough water, and saved all of that good-decision skin for someone who actually cared about it.

I wish I knew that it wouldn’t be him. Or him. Or even him. It wouldn’t be any of those people because you weren’t ready, you didn’t know yourself, so how could you expect anyone else to know you? How could you ask someone to love you if, every time you looked in the mirror, you felt a cringe of self-loathing? You had to grow, you had to get bigger and stronger and see a bit of the world. You had to realize that you deserve certain things, and that someone who cares about you is one of them. You had to be the kind of person who calls back, and shows up, so that you could expect the same of someone else – and understand how truly wonderful it is. I wish I knew that expecting every love to be the last and most important is foolish, but that attempting to burn them from your memory altogether was no smarter (or ever truly possible).

They all meant something, but that doesn’t mean they were right for you. The mistakes were painful, but it’s important that you remember the sting. The things you thought you wanted will end up being the things you can’t imagine being interested in. But you’re still good, and smart, and worthy.

And I wish I knew that. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.

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