In between the stagnant seasons of fall and winter of 2019, I felt a burning desire to leave New York City. I was exhausted from healing a broken heart from a catastrophic ending of a five-year relationship. I was tired of crying. I was tired of the sleepless nights. I was tired of the jealousy running through my veins as my ex moved on to a new relationship as if I never mattered. So, I did what any impulsive millennial would do on a lonely night: I booked a solo trip to Paris.
I didn’t choose Paris. It chose me. For weeks, signs were pulling at my heartstrings. My world was attracting all things French. I was surrounded by French school children in my neighborhood, discovered French cafes on my way to work, and was introduced to people who had just returned from their solo trip to Paris.
Paris called my name. So, I silenced the noise of every fear, doubt, and judgment of traveling alone and jetted across the Atlantic to the city of love.
Paris welcomed my messy heart with open arms. It began with reuniting with my cousin I hadn’t seen in seven years. We lived worlds apart our whole lives, as she grew up in France and I in America, but we were bonded through our similar roles of being the black sheep of our families.
My cousin and her fiancé graciously took me on a tour of the outskirts of Paris. From Disneyland to Bruges’ medieval city, and the best French Michelin star restaurant in the Champagne country of Reims, I was honored she shared her favorite places with me. We both were in sync with trying to live a life of following what makes us happy rather than conforming to success painted by our families’ pressure.
After I parted ways with my cousin, I began my journey of solitude, allowing my heart to guide me. The freedom to create my schedule was liberating. I would wake past noon, nap at 4 p.m., and eat dinner at 11 p.m. I was living and breathing a true Parisian lifestyle.
My spirit was free to roam the cobbled streets of Les Marias, weaving in and out of vintage shops filled with fur coats and designer dresses. I was energized with solo lunches, brunches, and dinners. I went to see the Moulin Rouge, did a photoshoot in Montmartre, and toured the Catacombs of Paris.
One night, I found a cozy bench underneath the bright lights of the Eiffel Tower. I had never felt so renewed and happy in my life. Since my arrival in Paris, I stopped replaying my heartbreak. I was embracing the present moment. I was slowly learning to be okay to live a life without being in love because I was falling in love with myself.
I spent five stilted years with a partner who depleted me. Up until he left, I gave and gave my love away with nothing mirrored back but deception, lies, and betrayal. My trip to Paris showed how much love I had to offer and what would happen when I gave it to myself. By choosing what I wanted to do, eat, or see, I was giving the love I gave away back to myself.
Paris mended my broken heart and coated it in golden moments where I reconnected with the parts of myself I thought I’d lost forever.
In a world that conditioned me to find a partner before 30, I never knew loving myself provided me with unconditional feelings of trust, respect, and worthiness.
The love within created a new reality of the life I deserved. It made me realize I was never meant to settle for a man who laughed at my dreams, diminished my intelligence, or held me back from my greatest potential.
The love within raised my relationship standards because I no longer needed anyone to validate my worth.
The love within said goodbye to an outdated belief system to create a healthier one.
The love within was no longer afraid to live a life without being in love because I knew the only love I needed was in the safety of my heart.