I never realized just how quickly one is able to learn and to grow. The kind of growth and knowledge that a school could never teach and the experiences no parent could protect their child from undergoing: these are the inevitable factors which took place, and which molded me into the person I am right here, right now.
Through a lot of heartbreak, a lot of damaged relationships, and many more forged from the ashes of the old; through the love and support of friends and family, and most of all, through experiencing, meeting, and truly getting to know many people, I learned a few essential things about life, love, and the key to happiness.
1.) Not everyone is who they appear to be. This seems obvious, we've all heard this in some form or another, but it's one thing to have heard about it, and it's another to really know it. I do believe in loving selflessly, but I no longer believe in letting your guard down. It is crucial that we take our time, even when it is difficult to do so. I often found myself saying and thinking that I would slow down and catch my breath, but deep down, I never really wanted to, and therefore never really did. Everything was full speed ahead, and that is where I went wrong. Jumping into relationships with the idea that one truly knows the other is the reason we often fall apart. Take a deep breath, slow down, get to know that special someone. They seem brilliant right now, absolutely breathtaking with a captivating mind and a seemingly beautiful and pure soul; however, it is important that we wait, because as much as we hate to admit it to ourselves, many people aren't who they seem to be.
2.) Love is not about reciprocation. One cannot truly be in love with the expectation that they will be loved the same way. Love is not about you, just as it was not about me. When we love, it means we are willing to put another person before ourselves because it means we are giving someone a piece of our heart—metaphorically, of course—that is reserved just for them. Having the same in return is precious, and not is absolutely heart-wrenching. Why is this the case? Why is it that having the person we love so much in our lives isn't enough for us? Often it is because we feel subordinate when we give our everything to someone with nothing in return, but in reality, we shouldn't want anything. Love isn't something one can wrap in a box and exchange Christmas morning. It is a feeling, an emotion that is meant to be the happiest of them all. It only becomes sour when the human mind becomes selfish or filled with self doubt, and this is where my third point comes in.
3.) Feeling comfortable in one's own skin in the biggest stepping stone in progressing as a healthy and happy human being. Knowing that you are enough is the best thing you can do for yourself, as well as quite possibly the hardest. It makes us able to love selflessly, the way love is meant to be given, it helps us to be comfortable in taking things slow, and it protects us from the anxiety that comes with being insecure when out in public, and even in private. Self-love means self-care, and those are the most important aspects of a happy life.