Growing up is hard. Just when you surpass the teenage awkward years of pimples and first crushes, you reach college and young adulthood and suddenly have to find yourself. Halfway through college, you may come to think you have it all figured out out. You will finally figure out you career path and perhaps you will even have found the love of your life. Things will be perfect – he will surprise you at school with flowers on your birthday, send you cookies the night before an exam, and buy you new winter boots for no good reason. He will listen and make you feel special and you will run around telling everyone of how great he is and how happy you are, his number one fan. He may even call you unexpectedly first thing in the morning the evening after you have your your first big fight to tell you that he loves you, so much. You will be in love with love, even when the love stops.
It is amazing how easily even the most intelligent people can be deceived. It will not take more than a few months for the surprises and romantic gestures to slowly disappear, completely. Disappointment when he chooses to see his friends over coming to meet your family on Christmas will quickly morph into humiliating insecurity when you, the drunk girlfriend, snoops into his phone and finds exactly what she was looking for on New Year’s Eve. You will have just kissed him at midnight an hour ago, wishing for a year full of even more love and happiness with the love of your life. “I’m thinking of calling it quits soon. I saw my ex and all of the feelings came rushing back; it’s not the same with her.” You will lay next to him on the floor in your friend’s apartment and cry all night — brokenhearted. He will not apologize, but he will give you just enough faith to hold on. He will tell you he said those things out of anger, but he did not break up with you so clearly you have nothing to worry about.
You will not understand, not then or ever. But you are in love; you are stuck. The past few months were undoubtedly the best of your life, so you will hang onto his half-assed effort at loving you and being gently placed on the back burner. You are not dumb, but he will deceive you. He will tell you he loves you and will play mind games with you, slowly pulling himself away month after month. You will feel it, and you will occasionally make him aware of it and he will tell you that you are wrong. “Stop being insecure,” he will tell you, “you know I love you to the moon and back.”
Months will pass, and with every day you will feel less confident about yourself. Your grades will slip, but you are in love and you must fix your relationship. You look forward to summer; after surviving a year apart while you are away at school the hardest part will be over. Your relationship will only get better. You will be even more in love than you were last summer, when you found each other. But you are wrong. He will abandon you in your darkest hour, when you need him the most, because he needs a break from you. You will reach out over and over and he will be ever so cold. After a year of loving you he will not answer your texts or return your phone calls. He will hold onto you by the weakest string for a few more weeks; he doesn’t want you anymore but he isn’t quite ready to let go either. He just needs space, and you will tell yourself that is reasonable.
You will blame yourself and drive yourself crazy waiting to hear from him. You probably will not be able to sleep, and when you do you will have dreams of him screaming at you and telling you that you are insecure.
Eventually, you cannot take the misery and demand an answer from him. He cuts your thin little string with garden shears. He will have any good explanation for you, too cowardly to admit he no longer loves you and has not for months. You knew he did not love you, but you still did not want him to leave. You cry and beg for him to stay, for some sort of compromise, and he will hang up amidst your uncontrollable sobs into the phone. You will fall apart completely and he will not care. He is gone.
How do you move on from the first love of your life? What did you do to deserve this? What if you did not complain about his lack of attentiveness? What if you gave him space? No. Fuck him. It will be difficult and it will take weeks, maybe months, but you will get over him. Every day you will wake up and roll over onto your phone and there will be no “good morning, princess” text. You will feel so empty and it will suck so bad. But do not let him control your life any longer. Remember how poorly he acted, when he embarrassed you when he was drunk, lied to your friends, and cried because he got a bad haircut. Remember how conceited he was and realize that everything that he did for you was only to make himself feel better – to make you tell people he was great and build his ego. Listen to your friend and laugh your ass off when she tells you his haircut makes him look like Bruce Jenner, and that is certainly not a complement.
Reclaim yourself – the girl who hates country music and thinks hunting and fishing are freaking boring. Never fuck with another guy who wears cowboy boots, especially in the middle of the summer because they are made of leather and must be hot and that’s just stupid. Drive around late at night with the windows down to feel the summer air and scream Brand New songs until your lungs hurt. You will recognize his selfishness and his arrogance and laugh when he blocks you on Instragram and subtweets about you when he realizes you have moved on. Every day will get easier. Find yourself again, and learn what not to look for in the next one. You built me up and broke me down in the worst way possible, but you made me stronger and I thank you for that. I think we all know who came out with the upper hand. He was not the perfect hand, and you will not hit on 19 ever again.