A general rule in life is: never, ever, never never ever read the comments.
Of course, that is exactly what I do. And this last piece, less of a story and more like stream of consciousness regarding a breakup, garnered (surprisingly) some hateful comments. It’s amazing to me how much people can hate a total stranger that has absolutely nothing to do with them. And it’s hard to not want to defend myself to every single one of them.
I hated that people were accusing me of “following a man” and “losing my identity in a man.” That I should have known I was doing something stupid. As if no one ever takes a chance in their life, and we always only make choices because we know the outcome. I’ve said it this whole time I’ve been here: I do not regret this choice.
I was with someone I wanted to be with, and I was ready to leave where I was, and I wanted an adventure. I got to combine all three of those things.
It didn’t work out as planned. Lots of parts of our lives don’t.
But I do NOT regret this choice. About this choice, I am disco chicken.
Had I not come, had I stayed home, had we broken up then, had I not taken this chance….regret of the undone, the unlived life would gnaw at me forever. Because out of all the things I regret about my past, few come from things I wish I hadn’t done – my regrets are things I had a chance at, but didn’t follow through. My regrets are the result of inaction.
I should have jumped off the waterfall in Guatemala, instead of being too scared and climbing up the rocks the way we had come. I should have gone on stage and danced or sang every time someone asked me to. I should have auditioned for plays and musicals in college instead of giving up something I truly truly enjoyed.
I should have worked less in college, and taken more weekend trips, learned new things like wakeboarding, instead of being afraid of being seen in a bikini, and thinking that a tiny bit more money would have changed anything about the tens of thousands of dollars I still owe today.
I regret every night I ever stayed in instead of going out with friends because I felt fat and they were thin and pretty. I regret not trying harder to mend friendships that I let slip away. I regret not letting people know how much they meant to me, and now they are gone.
I regret a million times I haven’t stood up for myself. I regret times I really needed help and didn’t ask for it.
But I generally don’t regret things I have done. I don’t call this move out here, or the relationship a mistake. A mistake is something you do, that you wish you hadn’t, because you cannot learn from it and it doesn’t make you a better person.
But this move out here has taught me immeasurable things. I have had adventures that no one can ever take away from me. I drove across the country with my mom, I’ve camped in the Blue Ridge mountains in the fall, I’ve learned an entire different culture and society of the United States, and eaten more biscuits than was probably good for me.
I have reconnected with friends, some I haven’t seen in 15 years, simply because I happened to be here. I’ve spent more time with my dad than I have in the last ten years. I’ve chased dolphins along the coast of the Atlantic and have hiked countless miles alone in the mountains of North Carolina. I’ve overcome a fear of being alone – even spending Christmas Day completely by myself (unless you count the ever-present biscuits).
And the relationship, although over, taught me a lot about what I need and what I can give. About communication, compromise, and how to make tough choices. I have learned more about me than I ever could, had I always remained at home where all my friends and family are.
Because of all this, I know I could move anywhere alone, travel anywhere alone, and not be lonely. That I can get through hard things (although this has not been the most difficult time in my life, if we can measure those times, if we can quantify those times).
I didn’t “chase a man” when I came out here. I wasn’t chasing anything. I was following my heart. I still have my heart, but now I think it beats for a stronger, truer, freer version of me. And when the next chance comes around at love, or a move, or an opportunity I never planned for, I feel like I will now be more than ready. I’ll be excited.
Vivir con miedo, es como vivir a medias.