Love is not something you find. Love is something you become. It’s the small changes that go unnoticed, the gaps within the silence, the way the sun feels a little warmer, a little brighter – it’s the little things in life that surmount to what you deemed impossible at your worst.

The past year of my life was like walking into the ocean and having the water turn into trees the deeper I went, until suddenly I was alone in a dark forest, unable to breathe. I was surrounded by the tall shadows of trees looming continuously over me, rendering me helpless against the thoughts trapping me there. I felt so lost. All of this because of a simple goodbye. That’s the funny thing about love: we don’t get to choose who, or why we fall, yet our hearts hold onto the ones who are meant to leave, the ones who break us. I felt like all that I was, all that I stood for, was washed and stripped away by the heaviness of my heart.

– And then one day I decided to swim. –

I’m not sure what started this path for me. There’s not a single moment or day that I began to stop hurting, but it happened. I made a subconscious decision to get better and to start living again. The one thing I know is that I stumbled upon the company that Bree spent her time building, one that has changed my life in ways that I can never thank her enough for.

I have such an appreciation for simplicity now. From the feeling you get when you close your eyes and take a deep breath, to the connections you can make with people when you allow yourself to be open – all of this has taken the broken heart I had, the silence in my mind, and filled them with something worth holding onto. This is what I’ve learned:

Every day is an opportunity to grow. Whether you make a mistake, or learn a lesson the hard way, you are given a chance to take what you’ve experienced and strive to do better. I believe in this so much that I have a constant reminder written on my hand; DO BETTER – Work harder, love deeper, be more kind, all of these things take a conscious decision and a subconscious drive. You can’t wake up and expect things to change. You have to put in the effort to get the result. Some days your effort is going to be phenomenal, other days you’ll feel disappointed because it will be less, however the important thing is, you took a step. Even if that step is getting out of bed. You did it. You made a small change, which will eventually result in what you are trying to achieve.

That being said, it’s okay to fail. This is something that I have to constantly remind myself. Luckily a few times I’ve been able to look outside the moment and see what I’ve learned from it. Hell, I failed my first quarter of college at a big university. I never thought that would happen. I’m a good student and a hard worker, but I’m also human. I went through a lot of emotional stress. I had a broken heart and I didn’t give myself time to heal. Now I know the importance of failing. It teaches us that there’s always another chance out there. Go chase it.

Another thing to ingrain in your mind is that life cannot go on without both kinds of emotions. As a society we focus on the good ones, being happiness, love, pride, etc. but we push aside the “bad” ones. The biggest one is pain. Hurt is a strange thing, especially when it is something that can’t be seen by others. They don’t see the war zone happening in your head, the sleepless nights, the days that your heart feels so heavy, the days you want to quit – pain is something we all feel. Going through what I did, having the person I loved walk out of my life, taking my heart with them every succeeding day, I didn’t think I was capable of loving again. It wasn’t until I opened my eyes, started noticing the little changes in myself as time went on that I felt my heart getting a little lighter, stronger even. I began to notice people’s smiles, the way that the rain falls down the window in little patterns no one notices, and the beauty in individuality while people watching in small unknown coffee shops. I decided to go explore as many places as I could, see as many faces as possible, and the biggest thing I noticed is that we all hide our emotions when they are the most real and stunning things about us.

Be open, be vulnerable, and most importantly allow yourself to tell others when you are hurting. Be brutally honest. Something Bree taught me is that being honest, isn’t always being kind. No matter the outcome I believe you should always let people know how you feel. You’ll be surprised with the responses you’ll get: support, new friends, sometimes people thanking you for being brave enough to talk about it. Learn to love the pain you’re going through. It means that you have a big heart, and that is something so extraordinary. There’s an elegance that can be found in embracing grief that people tend to run from, instead I think you should run toward that and settle down into your insecurities, become them in a way that is uniquely you. The funny thing about love is that it manifests every emotion, and disguises itself in other feelings. Take every feeling you have and feel it completely. You’ll thank yourself later. I felt everything, from anger, to love, to loneliness, to pure bliss. That’s what life is about – living.

The biggest thing I’ve learned from all of this is that there is a middle ground. You don’t have to have your life turned around completely. The inner workings of your mind don’t have to be 100%. What matters is this middle ground where you can see the meeting of the horizons; your past and present meet and form this beautiful place that is you. All you have to do is change your mindset, and you can change your whole life. You don’t have to be brave or strong. You don’t have to be smart, or rich, or good looking. All you have to do is decide who you want to be. Do you want to be kind, to do better, if so, when are you going to start? Why not now?

I’m still learning. That’s the beautiful thing about life. Endless opportunities for growth and building genuine connections. A year ago I wouldn’t know the person staring back at me in the mirror today, but I’m glad she exists. I’m liking who she’s becoming. Here’s to doing better every day. To learning. To living. To continuing to love despite the pain it’s caused because to me love is the most gorgeous thing in every form. Seeing eyes light up, smiles starting at the corners of strangers’ mouths, confidence picking up a gaze, your own heart beating stronger – whatever form it comes in, it is in its entirety. The only thing more beautiful than the process, is the courage you take to show yourself the love you had lost. Hold onto those little moments.
– C.


Story submitted by Caitlyn