A Love Letter To The Stars

A Love Letter To The Stars

And their influence on humanity.

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From the second we first look up in the night sky, we are fascinated with the stars, with the moon, with every visible celestial body. It has always been this way, and will likely be this way until humanity is wiped out by an apocalyptic catastrophe. The night sky will remain, neutral, unwavering, and beautiful long after we are no more.

The youngest stars visible to us are millions of years older than we and will live for billions once we're gone.

Stars may be born, they may change in appearance, they may waver as they age, they may die before I do, but there will always be so many more to observe, and such a distance between us, that I may never be lucky enough to perceive these phenomena firsthand.

As a result, I must assume that stars are flawlessly ageless, that they have always and will always be all around us, watching us. I must assume that each one will forever have an impact and a place in our lives.

That my love for the stars will always remain and that it will go untested because of their perceived immortality.

Yet, there are nights, when the clouds overtake the sky, or when the light pollution builds too great, or when the weather combats our ability to be outside, that the stars feel as if they've abandoned us.

Sometimes these nights feel like a disaster as if our childhood security blanket has just been ripped away from us by a middle school bully who knows exactly how to tear us apart.

There are times when this lasts for a week or more at a time.

Times when we feel absolutely lost because we haven't seen the stars, because maybe we've forgotten what they look like. It feels like we've been ghosted by the only consistent lover we've ever known. It feels like desolation in its most intense form.

We run through the stages of grief. We always get caught up on denial, because there's so much evidence to suggest that the stars will never be gone, will never abandon us, will never disappear, will not be around.

And we are right, of course, but our minds disagree, our instincts could never be as powerful as the anxieties of being deserted are. So despite our animal brains telling our emotional human ones that they're wrong, we stop denying.

We again get caught up, this time on anger. Anger is the easiest stage of the grieving process, anyway, so much can keep us enraged if we choose to let it that we never have to process the underlying root of our anger: loss.

So instead we get angry at the weather, at those around us, at anything we can latch onto and be angry about until it consumes us.

We are right to be angry at the weather, though. The weather is usually the cause of the obstructions, of the clouds and fog and storms keeping us away from our heavenly lovers.

But our anger is misplaced because the weather is not a thing that can be controlled. We must keep the faith that all will return to still, calm, and clear.

Whether that clarity comes in bone-chilling temperatures, or in brain-melting ones, whether it's possible to comfortably enjoy the revelation of our lovers' bodies again, we must remember that true love always finds a way and that this is only a temporary obstacle between us.

So we finally extinguish our raging flame, and we take another step towards processing our loss.

We bargain, we beg any deity, any social construct, anything we can place faith in, that we are reunited. We promise to change so much about our individual selves, we claim we will make a change to humanity as a whole, if only we can rid the night sky of this shroud that coats it, of the shadows that obstruct our view.

We don't mean these things, we don't have the power to, but in these desperate moments, we really are willing to try everything we can to make them come true if it allows us reunion even for just one night.

But no matter how we beg, no matter how desperate we get or how much we offer up, the atmosphere of our planet continues to betray us. Bargaining is a leap of faith, and it has never been one that got positive results. Why should we have expected differently this time?

We float aimlessly along, buried deep into the fourth step of the grieving process: Depression. Not clinical depression, but situational. Depression caused by a deep longing, a deep hurt, an overwhelming of our emotional processes, until all that remains within our lives is pointlessness and numbness.

Sometimes, we get lucky, and we feel again, as we jump back into the anger that filled our days before, though never as intense, with much less passion behind it. We manage to survive, only by doing the bare minimum to keep ourselves alive.

We lose hope, we stop going outside at night, we stop searching for a glimpse, we rely solely on forecasts to tell us if it's worth it if there's an ounce of hope in the world that we'll be able to see what we need again.

We remain this way for what feels like an eternity, until one day, we've processed it all. We've confronted ourselves. We've realized we'll never see the night sky again, and we accept that.

It still hurts, daily, but we start to finally work through it.

But then they return, and we fall back in love. We're reminded why we need the stars. Why being without them made us go through so much pain. Every breath under them fills us with butterflies, every new star that pops out as the night carries on makes our bodies electric.

We remember our passions. We remember our feelings. We can navigate once more, we can feel a sense of purpose in our lives.

We play this game, dancing in and out of a deep infatuation with these glorious, inanimate beings, over and over again. And it hurts just as fresh every time. It hurts worse, even.

But the payoff, when we are finally reunited, is more than any person could ever dream. We suffer for our love, but it's a marvelous ache.

Love, without the ache of desolation and the fears of being lost, unappreciated, and abandoned to contrast it, loses so much of its power.

But love, in all of its forms, is worth feeling, no matter the cost.

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20 Important Reminders For All You Girls About To Turn 21

The early twenties can be an extremely stressful time for women.
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I have come to find that the years of my early twenties have been among some of the best years of my life.

Moving away to college, going to concerts and bars with my friends, wild frat parties, beach days, becoming a college cheerleader, getting my first real job as a personal trainer (offering potential for a career).

While these have been some of the most fun and exciting years of my life they have also been some of the most stressful. Pulling multiple all nighters in a row, and still getting a D on an exam, constantly taking two steps forward and three steps back, feeling a want to be independent, and the struggle it takes to get there, quitting cheerleading, anxiety about my post college plans, and fading in and out of friendships and relationships.

The early twenties can be an extremely stressful time for women. Women are two times as likely to suffer from depression or an anxiety disorder than men. Additionally, research shows that depressive disorder may be appearing earlier in life in people born in recent decades compared to the past.

I've compiled a list of things for all girls in theirs twenties to remind themselves.

1. No one knows what they're doing and if they say they do, they're lying.

So many women compare themselves to others, when in reality, you can't actually know what anyone is thinking, or more so what actually goes on in their life. So stop worrying about feeling like a hot mess comparing yourself to the girl who seems to have it all together.

2. Every minute you spend thinking about someone else is a minute you lose to spend working on yourself.

Facebook and Instagram stalking your ex-boyfriend or ex-best friend is pointless, especially if they're no longer in your life. Focus on yourself and the people you currently have around you supporting you.

3. You don't need to find your "future husband" right now.

You have plenty of time to find someone to spend the rest of your life with, which is a long time. Your life timeline is longer than you think, and looking for someone rather than looking for the right someone can be the difference between a happy marriage or a divorce.

4. Don't think of relationships as, "if we're not getting married we're eventually gonna break up."

Be thankful for the time you spent with or have to spend with that person. Cherish those memories while they last even if they may eventually come to an end. Remember, "when one door closes another one opens."

5. Do the things you love, break the rules.

Don't settle for a job you hate just because it makes you a lot of money. At the very least, continue to do the things you love on the side; painting, singing, dancing, football, whatever it may be.

Keep doing the things you love. It will be your saving grace and will keep you sane.

Don't be afraid to be who you are and break free from societal roles, it's OK to be different, the most successful people don't care what other people think and aren't afraid to be themselves and stand out from the rest of the world.

6. You need and deserve a break.

Work hard but don't burn yourself out. It's easy to get caught up in your daily grind, but take the time to do things that relax you, or go out with your friend.

Remember, you're twenty-something, not forty-something.

You're not tied down. Now is the time to have fun, make mistakes, and be reckless once in a while.

7. Put the time in.

With whatever you wish to achieve, put the time in don't expect life to give you handouts. Don't quit when it gets tough or you think you won't make it. If you put the time in and get what you want to do done, you will be successful in life.

8. Relationships are the hardest part of life, don't dwell on them.

Relationships whether its family, friends or a romantic partner, relationships are the hardest part of life. Just be attentive, listen to other people and hear them out.

Use your intuition and leave behind the relationships that are negative. Being nostalgic never helps, if you don't let people go you'll never be happy with your current life.

9. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

If the first two times you try something it doesn't work out, take a different approach. Trying to get something done the same way and failing each time means you're doing something wrong.

You'll ultimately just pick up learned helplessness. It's not that you're incompetent, you just need to take a different approach.

10. You most likely won't marry your first love.

This is generally the case, and it's OK. Sure, being "high school sweethearts" sounds all nice and mushy, like the perfect fairytale, and for some people, this is the case.

But it's good to experience different people. If I never had breakups I would have never found out what it felt like to be treated well.

11. You're not 16 anymore. Don't expect your body to look like you are.

You're no longer a teenager, your body is different, your hormone release is different, don't expect an effortlessly flat stomach, thigh gap, and size zero.

It's not gonna happen.

Your bones are bigger and your structure is wider and it gets more difficult to stay in shape as you get older. Focus on being healthy, not a size zero.

12. People who want you in their life will be in your life.

Don't waste your time on people who don't care, or constantly blow you off, put you down or hurt you. You don't deserve it, and neither does anyone else. If they don't make you a better person, if they don't make you happier, let them go.

13. If someone tells you "you can't" show them that "you did."

Don't let anyone interfere with your dreams, they're your dreams to achieve, and if you want something, and you put in the work it takes you will get it!

14. Someone will always have more.

There will always be a girl who's prettier, smarter, funnier, skinnier, richer, more athletic. Base your success off of how much progress you have made, not by comparing yourself to someone else.

15. Things are just things.

Things do not equal happiness. Experiences and successes do! Sure that new Triangl bikini is nice, and you deserve to treat yourself to tangible items, but at the end of the day, they are just things.

16. People change, and so will you.

Your life changes dramatically year to year, especially during your early twenties, a time of many new beginnings and opportunities. Things are inconsistent, and people change and move away. Don't let this upset you, and don't base your happiness on other people.

They're just people after all, and they make mistakes. People can't always be reliable.

17. Take it one step at a time.

I like to look at my life like driving at night. Your headlights can only light up a small portion of the road ahead of you. You can let what you can't see coming scare you, or you can follow the road as you see it and worry about the obstacles when they come into view.

This is something I try to focus on when I have anxiety.

18. It's OK to be selfish.

To an extent, yes. Sometimes I have a problem with putting others before myself, and yes this is a good thing in moderation. You need to be well for yourself in order to help others.

19. Follow your intuition.

Your gut feeling is more accurate than you think. If you have a good feeling about something, take a chance on it. Failure is better than wondering if you would have succeeded.

20. You will figure it out.

I know it's a time of so many uncertainties and financial instability, but just keep treading water and you'll eventually make it to shore.

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How Am I Supposed To Feel About Graduating? (I Really Don’t Know)

Feelings you have when filling out your grad apps…

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It has already been six months since I took that walk across the graduation stage, and time has done precisely what it did while I was a student… it has flown by. I made the biggest mistake one can make in life: I blinked. I closed and opened my eyes and four years had passed in between. It is truly hard to believe, and harder to accept. I got asked how I felt many times, and each time I did not know what to say. As I would tell them, I always did not know how to feel — I felt everything and nothing at the same time — but if I had to choose and emotion, I would choose sadness. While I have come more to terms with my life now, it still hurts. It is still scary. It is still anxiety-inducing. Yet, it is still… kind of exciting.

This all starts (at least at JMU) with filling out your graduation application. Here, I will try to explain it using the seven stages of grief…

1. Shock.

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It hits you out of nowhere. You have the right conversation, see the calendar for the first time in a while, get that email about application deadlines or ordering your cap and gown… and you cannot believe that it is already time to think about this.

2. Denial.

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You deny it. You choose not to accept it. You are like, "No, no, nope… no way. I am not graduating. I will FAIL a class on purpose. I am not leaving!" (But underneath, you know that this is ridiculous… but it is what you really feel).

3. Anger.

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You start to reflect back on your years and experiences in college, and you aren't happy… You can't seem to find the joy and pride in your work, only the shortcomings. The unfinished business. The failures. And you wish you could go back in time and fix what went wrong. Make things better. Change the past. To be better. All of the bottled up emotions runneth over, only because you don't know what else to do.

4. Bargaining. 

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You jokingly talk about failing a class or whatever, so that you can stick around for another year… but you know that is not a real goal. Underneath, you really do wish that you could find a way to stay… but you know that it is all in vain. The time comes and goes. It crawls by, and yet passes in the blink of an eye.

5. Depression. 

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This is the point of no return. Rock bottom. You know the future to come and that it is inevitable. You grieve for the time that has passed. You bask in the memories of what has been. You cry for the ghosts of days gone by.

6. Testing. 

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At this stage, the tears have rolled and things have sunken in. The emotions have flowed (and continue to), but you are now in a clearer state of heart and mind, Now… you start to focus on what lies beyond, or what may lie beyond. You plan. You dream. You start to feel the excitement. You start to feel joy. But most importantly… you dust yourself off, you finish that grad app and turn it in, and you go buy your cap and gown.

7. Acceptance. 

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The journey is done. The time has come. The adventure is over… and a new one awaits. You hear your name, you take the walk, you turn the tassel. And for a moment… you are not afraid. You are alive. You are new. You are free.

Now, you have a life to start living. SO LIVE IT!

You only get to do it once, so make it a great one.

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