Last week I found myself hitting an emotional dead end, a dark pit of hopelessness and I found myself being surrounded only by dark and darker thoughts. It was made worst by the fact that I had no real friends in college and I found myself seeking old relationships that I ended due to toxic behaviors that in my haze of hopelessness I didn't care about, only craving human interaction as a way to alleviate my pain.
Spoiler: it did not work, as it shouldn't. But I knew what would make me feel better — my friends from back home who were a two hour train ride away, which might not sound like much effort, but for a broken, stressed me, it was at times beyond me, but I still mustered up the courage and made the trip to the city.
The result: it was the most worthwhile and saving moments of my life. It sounds extreme but I had forgotten I was loved and made me lose faith in myself and my capacity to do well and follow my passion. This started with my birthday which I spent with someone who ended making me feel very small on a day I had put great significance on. And the days that followed were filled with moments that reinforced my perceived worthlessness.
In one of my passing conversations with one of my friends, I mentioned how badly that day was. I described how I wished I had just spent my birthday alone. So when I gathered my courage and met up with my friends, they passed on a birthday card, again to most people a small gesture, but in a friend group where we have never put significance on gifts and birthdays, an agreement we made five years ago, it felt that someone had remembered me, thought about how I felt, and acted based on that. For me, the card isn't what mattered, it's knowing that even when I'm not around, they are people who worry about me and care if I'm happy.
I was with my friends for only a couple of hours and we didn't do anything necessarily special. We walked around, grabbed some food and talked. But I did not censor myself or tried to make myself smaller. I was as affectionate and attention-seeking as I wanted to be. I laughed loudly, hugged tightly, cried obnoxiously and loved and asked for love with great abandon. I was all of me, my concealer sat in the creases of my face, my hair dirty, and my shirt sitting in my stomach and back rolls, but I knew in that moment that those parts of me were loved just as much as the parts of me that were perfect.
I learned that you cannot replace unconditional love (giving and receiving) with passing attachment, casual acquaintances, or toxic friendships. Those things have purposes and can be useful as well, but being truly loved is a scope far beyond. Only after this realization was I able to pull myself up from my pit and try, try again.