There are a few things I've learned in the twenty-two years I've been alive.
Four years old. I learned while lying in the grass at the park with my mother, that you can't walk on clouds, you can only see them.
Seven years old. I learned that the sky isn't something untouchable, and was ecstatic when I discovered that it came all the way down to the ground.
Ten years old. I learned that that when you fall while water skiing, to let go of the rope, and that grass stains were my favorite thing.
Twelve years old. I learned that you will not regret making videos of you and your best friend dancing to Hannah Montana in cowboy hats and 80's prom dresses.
Sixteen years old. I learned that you will get the cops called on you when you jump off a cliff into a pond that says "no swimming."
Seventeen years old. I learned that life gets hard. That you will stumble and fall. I felt spiritual love on the deepest level I've ever felt.
Eighteen years old. I learned that you will meet someone who starts an uncontrolled fire in your soul.
Nineteen years old. I learned that fire can emit toxic fumes and light up a mountainside, that it will burn every living thing inside you to the ground.
Twenty years old. I learned what heartbreak is. I learned how to pick up the pieces of myself that I willingly destroyed.
Twenty-two years old. I learned that you could fall in love again.
I’ve learned that some things aren't meant to be. I've learned that sitting on the summit of the tallest mountain, not one soul in sight is one of the most spiritual experiences you could possibly have. I've learned that the stars have so much to say and so many people don't listen close enough.
I've learned that time, in fact, does not heal all wounds.
There are some wounds that will never fully heal, and it is necessary to understand and accept that. But these wounds will become a part of you and make you authentic, and raw. They will make you more human.
They will teach you about love from someone that didn't know how to, but for the life of you, you couldn't let go of. You lose your mind and for a small moment, you fear you have lost yourself. But in reality, these heartbreaks were the only way you could ever truly find yourself.
These wounds become a part of you, and it doesn't mean you haven't moved on. It means you lived. It means you're human. You can never truly "get over" a past wound if it cut your soul deep enough. I know that now. But you can "move on." You can let go. You can become indifferent.
There is an incredible difference between “getting over,” and “moving on” that the human race needs to understand. You can move on, and accept that the pain will lessen, but you might feel a watered down version from time to time. That the wound will leave a scar, but it will never go away because it is forever engraved into your existence.
I learned that love is messy. Love will destroy you. But it will heal you. Love will throw you to the ground, and then you think there is no possible way you will ever stand again. It will build you back up.
Sometimes, it changes you in ways you never wanted to be changed. And that's the worst kind of love. The "I can't live or breath or sleep without you," kind of love.
The “I don’t care what I’m putting into this fire, as long as I can keep it burning,” kind of love. And when it ends? You're left with nothing. You're left with emptiness.
But there are many different kinds of love. Toxic love. Young love. Manipulative love. Destructive love. Easy love. Painful love. Restless love. Unforgettable love. True love.
And the best kind of love?
The "I'm going to love you with such pure intentions until you feel absolutely free," kind of love.
It’s a peaceful kind of love, a steady kind of love. An “I know you’ll never break my heart, but if you do, I’ll survive” kind of love.
I've learned that every love you experience doesn't end in the "happily ever after" that your four year old self always dreamed of. But it comes. It comes only after you learn that you’ll never find it until you can love every part of yourself.
And it is infinitely more beautiful and eternal than the fairy tale kind of love, because there was a road through hell that led you there. And you realize that you would walk it one thousand times over, if it meant wearing white and looking into the eyes of the one kind of love that was worth hurting for. Unconditional love. Selfless love.
A love that you could never appreciate until you've felt the toxic, destructive kinds of love. A love that makes you want to be your best self. A love that you can look at and say "I choose you," every single day. A love that says "what can I do for you?" and a love that you want to say it back every chance you get. A love where you give and you take, a love that you choose to build up every single day. A love that is made up of sleepy kisses and a love that asks you to build forts in your living rooms on Wednesdays.
And if you don't know that kind of love yet? Find it in yourself. Tape a picture of your five-year-old self to the mirror, and take care of your soul like you would that child.
Learn to run. Do yoga. Light candles. Make brownies. De-clutter your room. Go on adventures. Climb mountains and get enough sleep. Eat vegetables. Eat Pizza. Lie on the floor and let your favorite song echo through your entire body. Meditate. Listen to what your soul and the stars have to say. Become the person that your five-year-old self needed.
And you will find that love in someone else someday. But until then.
Love yourself with an unconditional love. A selfless love.
An "I'm going to love you with such pure intentions until you feel absolutely free," kind of love.