A little more than a decade ago, I set out on my pursuit to find love. I had the love of my family and friends to satisfy that need up until I developed my first crush on a young man in high school. Sure, I had a few ‘boyfriends’ dating back to elementary school, but it wasn’t until I was in high school that I first muttered those three little words and really meant them. It was a different feeling than I had experienced in the past. It felt more real, more consuming, and more exciting than anything I had felt before and I was hooked.
I think The Format said it best…
I love love. I love being in love. I don’t care what it does to me.
Since then, I’ve experienced heartbreaks, more love, more heartbreaks, and a little bit more love. All of the ups and downs are just to be expected when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and experience love for the exciting and amazing journey that it is. I am the type of person who goes all in when it comes to love. I wear my heart on my sleeve and allow myself to fall hard. I feel that it isn’t fair to myself or my significant other to not put myself out there 100%. Because of this, I’ve made some amazing memories, learned a lot about myself, and shed a lot of tears.
Throughout high school and college, I sought to find my ‘soulmate’, or that one person who I believe was put on this earth by God to share my life with. It wasn’t until my impending graduation from college that it became clear that I already knew who that person was. And luckily, he was a big part of my life already and had been since before we could drive or vote.
Despite the fear of losing our friendship if things didn’t work out, I couldn’t allow myself to go on any longer without him knowing how I felt. Once I recognized these feelings for what they were, there was no way that our relationship could ever be the same and it just became so absurd to me that I hadn’t recognized it sooner. We’ve already shared so many memories, laughs, tears, and experiences that I instantly became excited for what could become of our future if we chose to be together.
But then came the anxiety. And fear. And confusion. To tell him or not to tell him? How would he respond? Did he feel the same way? If he didn’t already, could he? Would he not want to take the risk?
I didn’t know the answers to these questions, but all I knew is the feeling I had that the reward would be worth the risk of putting myself out there once again. It was terrifying because in past relationships, I was never the person to make the first move. Not to say I had boys chasing me on the playground, but for all of my past relationships, it was the guy who sought me out. That was one reason why I knew this was different and would end up different.
Fast forward almost 3 years, and I can honestly say I have never looked back on my decision to tell one of my best friends that I wanted more from our relationship. To my dismay, his initial reaction was one of hesitation. Thankfully, only a few short weeks (though they felt really long to me) after my declaration, Jeff agreed that he couldn’t pass on something that could turn out to be great. He, like myself, had a feeling that what we could have would be amazing.
Though I had been friends with some of my exes before we started our relationship, there’s something to be said about being one of their best friends and then moving out of the friend zone. I have not only grown in my love for Jeff, but more importantly, I like him as a person. We know everything about each other, we share a lot of similar interests, and we have already developed inside jokes that we still find hilarious to this day. What sets our relationship apart is that since we’ve been close for so many years, we’ve seen each other at our best and our worst and we still fall in love with each other even more everyday.
In the words of Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt, I like him, and I love him.
He’s my support system, he’s my motivation for working hard and becoming a better person, he’s my best friend, he’s my confidant, he’s the person I want to talk about my day with, he’s the person I want to share my life with.
Though my journey to find love hasn’t been easy, I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am today in my relationship without taking some risks and shedding some tears. The bumps and the bruises I’ve gotten along the way are a reminder of where I’ve been and what I’ve gone through. Vulnerability isn’t weakness. Vulnerability is being strong enough to make a decision and survive the outcome, regardless of which way it goes. Vulnerability is being comfortable, confident, and courageous to go after what you want without knowing how it’ll turn out. Don’t be afraid to say what you feel; you don’t want to risk missing out on a great opportunity.
Where are you in your Pursuit of love and happiness?