Our lives are an opportunity to love people- people who may not look like us, talk like us, think like us, or live like us. That’s what makes love (and life) really beautiful- it extends itself to all people. Everyone has the capacity to love- no matter how deep the scars, no matter how many pieces of our heart lay broken inside, no matter how lonely we may feel. Love exists in us all.
I have been in love before, but where it went wrong was when I lost my relationship with my self. I became ashamed when I looked in the mirror and felt utterly lost when I thought about my future hopes and dreams. I had forgotten what set my soul on fire, and you truly cannot love someone else until you love yourself first. That is true for all relationships- love must start from within. It seems so cliché, and the phrase “love yourself” seems to be thrown at us every time we open up an Instagram story in pretty calligraphy. It feels so abstract and unattainable.
This past summer, I found it. I finally found the love that had existed all along but had just been buried underneath a lot of things I had neglected. I found it when I was falling in love with someone else- my soulmate..
Madrid was my first stop of my three-month excursion, and lived up to be everything I had expected and more- amazing food, music, shops, culture, and language. (To preface the grandeur of Madrid, I flew into Barcelona and went on the wrong train in the wrong direction for three hours but chose to forgive myself and buy a new ticket amounting to $100 without losing the smile on my face.) My friends met me in Madrid, and we find ourselves eating late night tapas until we get pulled in by happy hour signs at a local pub. We continued to hop in and out of different bars experiencing the music and meeting new friends.
At some point, I begin talking to a fairly attractive guy who looked to be in his early 20’s with an incredible Australian accent. He had been backpacking for a while with his friends throughout Europe, and coincidentally we were both heading to Barcelona within the next few days. He told me to put my number in his phone, and I probably put it in at least four times and added myself on all forms of social media because I wanted to make sure he would reach out to me. My friend tapped me on the shoulder, and by the time I turned around to talk to Charlie (this is a pseudo-name for the beautiful Australian I just previously mentioned), he was gone. I was so upset and kept complaining to my friends “I must find Charlie”, but they knew there was no way for me to find him again so they didn’t entertain my request.
We continued to bar hop and landed back in a hip, trendy bar we had been in earlier in the night. Hours pass..I look over and Charlie walks through the door. Long story short, we spend the rest of the night swing dancing and talking about life. He walks me back to my hostel (girls, I do not recommend this behavior) along with my friends. He got along great with my best friend, because she just so happens to be very passionate about Australian politics (and girls know that “if you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends”). We stood on the balcony and talked about dreams, hopes, and futures until the sun rose over Madrid.
We get to Barcelona a few days later, and he meets some of my other friends that joined us. We watched the sun rise over Barcelona (note: I tend to be introverted, but for some reason, Charlie and my chemistry brought me right out of my shell). The next night, he meets up with us as we are leaving a restaurant to head to another part of town. I ask my friends to wait up while Charlie runs to the restroom, but by the time Charlie and I left the restaurant, my friends were nowhere to be found…with my wallet, key to our AirBnb, and passport (again, I do not recommend this behavior- get a purse!). Charlie and I knew the name of the place where they were heading. He puts it in his phone and notices it is only 2 miles away. We attempt to call a cab, but none are stopping for us. He looks at me, smiles, and says, “let’s just run”. So, we take off through the streets of Barcelona, singing, dancing, and laughing. He takes my picture while I pose on a Vespa channeling my inner Lizzie McGuire. It was my favorite two miles I had ever ran in my life. We get to the address to find an abandoned building…the place did not exist. We ended up just getting a cab back to my AirBnb and met up with my friends. Again, we stayed up all night talking about values and our families and careers to watch the sun rise.
I tell this story, because this is truly when I had felt so enamored with a person BECAUSE I was coming FROM a place of love. I was self-confident in my opinions, values, and appearance regardless if Charlie agreed. I felt loved even when he was not around- I had a community of people surrounding me that supported and loved me unconditionally. Even when I thought about my future with him, I still prioritized my commitment to my passions and what sets my soul on fire.
I am not saying that you need a boy or girl to tell you that you are loved. My journey to discovering the already-existing love inside of me just so happens to include a boy. I had uncovered this self love within me and was able to extend it boundlessly while I was with Charlie. This set up the rest of my three months as I continued to love others around me. I could love without abandon because of my position and identity of love.
Now, the update on Charlie and I is to be continued…
PS: Here are my MOST IMPORTANT soulmates and soul sisters that provide me unconditional love and support. They constantly remind me and inspire me to love myself. Get you some soulmates like them.