Sometimes we sit cross-legged across our beds at 4 a.m. Listening as Chris Young perfectly encapsulates how we feel. Writing about everything and anything. We know we have work in a few hours, yet we still balance that glass of Pinot Noir on our right knee. To the whole world, we are women who have it together. When we show up to work, we are cheerful, brilliant, and personable. For the most part, we’ve never had anyone comment on our job performance.
Yet when we look at our lives in the linear. When we look at our lives as if we were looking in satellite view, we can see where it went so wrong.
Hey, girl. I’m you.
Bright, funny, happy. Maybe a little too smart-arsed at parties. Exactly as we were five, 10 years ago. The difference now is that when we are alone, that persona decides to sit in the trash as the reality of the weight of the world settles on our shoulders.
I’ll walk away from the ‘we’ now and tell you my story. Every story we have is different. Every decision was based in a different world. Yet I know it will resonate. If nothing else, when you read this, I want you to open up your laptop at 4 a.m. and write your own story too.
I grew up in a world where it was normal to marry, buy a house, and have children young. I wasn’t about that. I wanted to make my own mark upon the world, but at the same time I wanted to be part of all of the above in my own time. College was easy—I waltzed in and I waltzed out, neither better for being there nor worse for having been there.
I knew I would find my person at some point. After all, I went to grad school when I was 22. I imagined I would find him there and we would live happily ever after.
I thought I did. About three months into law school, I found the guy who understood all of my awkward jokes. Who made me feel like I’d never understood love. We dated for nearly two years. I was so convinced that I would know what it looked like when I saw it that I overlooked so many red flags. I laughed when my GBF joked about them making out in the bathroom. I shrugged when one of my mentees at law school said she’d seen him making out with his mentee at a party. Honestly, I downright belly laughed when one of my girl friends said she’d seen him trying to get with Tiffany Trump.
When my sister threw him out of our house because he’d grabbed me to make a point, I justified it. When I walked in on him lying on the floor in the law school library with the aforementioned mentee, I defended his actions. I was secure in myself. After all, I’d waited so long to fall in love, I could not possibly have fallen for the wrong person.
He eventually broke up with me. I know I would never have broken up with him. Not then. I would now. I spent weeks (which turned into months) plotting to get him back.
Eventually I swallowed my pride, and walked off to make a life of my own. It took about two years and three short-term boyfriends for me to get to the point where I could think of him in neutral terms.
Nearly four years after he told me in a Cheesecake Factory that he thought we were over, I still can’t go to a Cheesecake Factory. I still can’t wear the watch he gave me for our first anniversary, even though it’s one of the cutest watches I own. And I still can’t fall in love again.
In less than 18 months, I will turn 30. My life is full with so many wonderful friends who I consider to be sisters and sisters I consider to be friends. I have my gay guy friends who check my nails and eyebrows to make sure they’re on point. My DMs are full of amazing men who deserve a chance.
But it’s no longer someone normal and cute and fun who can make it past the walls that have been up since I was 12. It will have to be someone so extraordinary, someone so incredibly exceptional. Because I fell in love with the wrong person far too young.