It’s far too easy to let others determine your worth.
As my ruined relationships pile up and the list of those that I consider healthy versus those I consider ugly tips in favor of the latter, my poisonous instinct is to blame myself, wonder what’s wrong with me that I can’t keep those I want around.
I’ve made this mistake again recently. I could regale you with tales of our recent travels, the beautiful things we saw together, the things we learned in museums and read on buses, the general joy of traveling with someone you like, but none of those things are what stick in my mind. I think of the maniacal hope I let grow in me unchecked, and how expectations truly do choke out happiness. But that knowledge doesn’t stop them from growing.
I’m not old, but I’m old enough to be fucking exhausted by failed relationships. What doesn’t kill you makes you more bitter, calloused, and distrusting. Whenever I get excited about somebody new, I always think that I’ll sooner or later regret that elated feeling, because every positive feeling must eventually have its negative counterpart, and that it’s just a matter of time. I will never love as purely and stupidly as I did at 18, which sounds fairly emo, but is fairly true. Though I used to scoff at it, I’m slowly recognizing the merits of staying with your first love.
So I keep telling myself the girl-power mantras that I don’t really believe: you deserve more, he wasn’t right for you, you’re awesome, you just haven’t met the right person, just relax and have fun. I roll my eyes and go out, dance with strangers, drink too much; I play beer pong in my international apartment like I’m ten years younger than I really am, giggling and taking shots and generally looking like the poster child of a fun study abroad billboard.
And afterward, I smoke too many cigarettes and ponder too many things as I sit alone on my balcony, the fetid smoke curling through my neighbors’ windows. I keep coming back to how hard it is to make true connections with others, and how I hate myself for hoping when I do.