I will never forget the words my high school sweetheart said to me when we had our first real fight. It was early September and the leaves had just begun to fall.
“If we end up as nothing, then this was all a waste.”
And I remember the way the air felt, crisp and cool against my cheeks. I remember looking across the street to where there was an open field, decorated with specks of red and orange leaves. I remember the way he looked at me, sad and longing and young. I remember feeling this deep ache—the realization that my heart felt so differently, that even at age seventeen, I understood love as something so much deeper.
I remember wanting to cry. Not because of the possibility of our young love coming to an end, but because I could never see love as a waste.
Even then, I understood love as vast, and deep, and endless. Even then, I knew that it was infinitely better to fall and break than to not fall at all.
Six years later, and I still feel the same. Six years later, I see the world as black and white—you either love, or you don’t live. And for me, it was never a matter of not loving.
Love is worth it, every single time. No matter the breakup. No matter the bitter end. No matter the pain and distrust and fear—to love is to fully live. I don’t believe you can have one without the other.
When I think about my past relationships, when I think about the tears I cried as they ended, when I think about the time I spent loving the wrong people, or falling too hard for someone who didn’t love me back—I don’t feel pain. I don’t feel loss.
I feel happy. I feel thankful.
And maybe because there’s been time and distance. Maybe because I’ve been blessed enough to keep some of these men as my friends. Maybe because I’ve done a lot of healing, a lot of praying, a lot of writing, a lot of post-breakup selfish living, and I’m whole again.
But I can honestly say that I don’t regret a thing. Even though I haven’t yet found a ‘forever love,’ falling was worth it. Every single time.
See, I don’t think it matters what happens in the end. It doesn’t matter if you loved, and ended up empty. It doesn’t matter if someone you dated didn’t become your forever person. It doesn’t matter if you get your heart broken and now have to relearn who you are again. Yes, it will hurt like hell. But loving, learning, growing, giving—it was worth it.
I don’t think it matters how it ends; all that matters is that we loved.
Because what else is our purpose in this world than to love, and love deeply? To risk all we have for another person? To grow and learn and scrape our knees along the way?
It doesn’t matter if you dated and broke up, if you loved someone so deeply and it didn’t work out. What matters is that you went all in. Is that you gave what you had. Is that you tried. Is that you decided to embrace the scary, beautiful, complex, frustrating, incredible thing called love.
And for once, you didn’t hold back.