I Stopped Looking for Love, and That's When It Found Me

At the start of my freshman year of college, I thought that I had it all figured out. I quickly solidified a group of close friends, and they made me feel comfortable enough to be vulnerable and share parts of me that I wouldn’t usually share. I was so happy first semester. I was certain I had found my people. They exemplified their reciprocal love for me with extravagant displays of affection and put up with all of my quirks.

I thought that these would be my friends for life.

Flash forward to second semester, and that perfect world that I had built shattered around me. I came back to a place where I was methodically excluded, made to feel as if I was on the outside, and made to feel as if my flaws and my mental illnesses caused me to be entirely unlovable.

I felt sick for weeks. How could this be? I had tried so hard to be an amazing friend. I had spent late nights and early mornings working on these relationships, and yet, somehow, I had still managed to ruin them. I didn’t understand how people could love so deeply, so visibly one day and flip to total apathy the next.

I had spent all of first semester looking for love, and then, in the course of a couple of weeks, all the love that I knew had left me in the dust because of elements that were entirely out of my control. Ouch.

I never wanted to trust anyone again. I knew that as a friend, I had done nothing wrong; I had simply let in the wrong people. That hurt. That was hard to accept.

I didn’t want to let people back in, and by keeping my walls up and tirelessly rebuilding them, I was deepening my wounds. I was sadder and lonelier than I had ever been, and my self-confidence had completely tanked. People would ask me to hang out, and I would decline, certain that the issue was deep within me, certain that everything I touched was destined to die.

I couldn’t heal like this, much less live like this.

What I learned in those few weeks of absolute social and emotional torture was that love is not always a two way street, but that sometimes, it actually is. It wasn’t until I started to let new people in that I realized the depth with which people could appreciate and love me. I was so focused on the ones who left me for being too much that I wasn’t able to see the ones who had stayed by my side the entire time, even when my eyes were closed, even when I didn’t know that they were there.

When I stopped trying to form friendships, that’s when I discovered who my real friends were. They were the ones who reached out, who came over, who slept in my room at night to make sure I was safe. They were the ones who drove around aimlessly with me and screamed with me and assured me that I was not a difficult person to love. I stopped looking for love; that’s exactly when it found me.

Today, I am happier than I have ever been. I have friends who care about me and are not going anywhere, no matter how difficult things might get for me. I am loved the same way that I love: hard, deep, and endlessly. The efforts that I make are made right back. I do not feel one bit alone.

I did, but like a wave, the emotion crested and peaked and fell. And now, I am a tide at peace, because I realized something.

You will never be too much for your people.

You will never be too damaged for your tribe.