I still remember pacing back and forth in the parking lot, seagulls shrieking overhead and fishermen walking past at the end of their day. I’d driven out to the ocean, to my favorite pier, because I wanted to make sure I was in a space that felt comforting to me. I had to do something difficult that day. I had to call a boy I liked.
I was in college at the time, nearing my twenty-first birthday, had still never kissed someone, and I’d recently been trying to Facebook flirt with a handsome fiction writer in my Southern Lit class. That afternoon he’d left me a voicemail seeing if I wanted to hang out. And that meant I had to call him back.
It made me sick to my stomach. I’d been on edge of panic all day. My body was flooded with anxiety and adrenaline and I was weighed down with a heavy cloak of fear.
I stood near the water as I dialed his number and with a shaky voice told him I wasn’t able to meet up. I told him I struggled with serious nerves and it wasn’t good timing. He was understanding, albeit a little confused. As I hung up, knees full of jitters and palms full of sweat, I started crying.
I remember sitting against a worn away cement wall, my back to the parking lot, and crying for what felt like almost an hour.
I felt lost.
I felt so trapped in my own skull.
And I was filled, like a vase with water but no flowers, with the doubt that I would ever be able to form a romantic relationship with a man.
I doubted my ability to love.
I doubted my ability to be loved.
I think back on this moment a lot since it was one of the more hopeless moments I’ve have. I remember feeling so frustrated and tired of myself. I was exhausted. I’ve had many moments that were variations or shadows of this moment.
As humans we are so consumed by finding connection with others that we often lose sight of all other forms of connection. Love, and the pursuit of it, is never ending. Even those in long-term, committed relationships are still redefining, reshaping, and pursuing a sense of love.
But there’s a reason I drove to that pier that day. On some level, I knew I needed the visual reminder that there’s more out there. More beauty, more salt in the air, more wind cutting at the wings of birds above; beyond the cavernous shadows of our brain is a world of beauty.
When you find yourself in moments of doubt I encourage you to sit for a moment and feel the depth of fear and pain and uncertainty. But then I encourage you to also connect with outside elements of simplicity that bring you comfort. Keep going, keep going, keep going.
Be patient with yourself, but then be relentlessly focused on tiny movements of growth.