So much can change in ten years; if I were to look back on myself ten years ago I would hardly recognize the young girl staring back at me. Your twenties are a time for change, whether you welcome the change or fight it, it is up to you. Life changes you, your experiences change you but most of all love will change you; how it will change you is solely dependent on you. In the past ten years, I have experienced three great loves; all three have brought me tears, smiles, laughter, anger, joy, sadness and immense love. They changed me, sculpted me piece by piece, I was left with a few cracks but nothing I could not repair. These three loves have made me into the woman I now see when I look in the mirror.
A decade ago (that sounds like such a long time) I was 18, fresh out of high school, and I was crazy in love. He was my first real love; he was “the one”. Our life together was going to be perfect, we had it all planned out, only it didn’t work out that way. We were both young and still trying to figure out who we were as individuals, let alone as a couple. In the end he devastated me; I thought I would never be able to love again. This love was a game changer for me, it made me completely reevaluate my ideas on love, trust and what I thought I wanted from life.
Fast-forward a few years and I was in the second great love of my life, it turns out I was wrong; I was able to love again. He was amazing, and completely different from the first. But, as you already guessed from the title, love #2 didn’t last and for various reasons we decided to go our separate ways. This love changed me also, but in a different way, it taught me to always be better, do better, strive for more and most importantly to want more for myself than just being content in my life.
Fast-forward a few more years and I had entered into the third great love of my life. I had known love #3 for a long time but, unfortunately, we never took the time to get to know one another. We teetered on the idea for a while before deciding to go for it; ultimately choosing not to care what anyone thought. I found that with this new love I was able to be myself completely, no holding back, there are no secrets and no lies between us. I am now two years into this relationship, I am of course (as I am sure you have figured out) talking about the relationship I have developed with myself.
This love I have discovered for myself is what I was missing, I realize now that I must first and above all else love myself, in the words of Shakespeare, “This above all: to thine own self be true.” This is the most important relationship you or I will ever have in our lives. If you cannot love yourself how can you ever expect to properly love someone else, whether it be family, friends or a lover. I am still discovering things about myself daily; I have to consciously and persistently be aware and listen to what my inner self is trying to tell me.
I learned from the mistakes I made with the first two loves in my life and because of them I was able to finally except myself, live for myself and love myself. In both of those relationships I tried to be the person I thought they wanted me to be. Because I was not my authentic self, the relationships were doomed from the start, they never would have worked out no matter how hard both parties tried. Of course you cannot enter into a relationship and expect that it will not change you, it is inevitable, but you have to be able to change and grow with each other in the relationship while still remaining true to yourself. This is so important.
I have changed a lot over the past ten years, most of which I attribute to love, some may call it failed love, a year ago that is what I would have call the first two, but I see it differently now. They were stepping stones, and because of them, I became a better version of myself, I can only thank them both for helping me to get to where I am today. But most importantly I have to thank them for teaching me to love, appreciate and accept myself for who I am and not who anyone else thinks I should be. Now when I look into the mirror I see a strong, beautiful, courageous, unique and independent woman. I see love.