Last summer, I went on a road trip with my boyfriend. 3 months later that boyfriend and I decided to part ways. Whenever people talk about traveling, I think about him. When I open my time hop app and see pictures from planning the trip, I think about him. When I see posts about road trips or asking for suggestions of places to stay out west, I think about him. But not in the way you think. I’m not sad. Truly, I’m not. I’m not embarrassed. I’m not angry. Instead, I am so thankful.
I don’t usually stray too far from home; I love my family too much. When he and I made it to Wisconsin in a town with population 75 after a drive straight through the night, when he and I were falling asleep under the stars, I felt free. Here I was, barely 19, and out on my own – separate from my family – for three weeks. Terrifying, yes. Liberating, that too. Sometimes not even a phone call away from my mom, I had to learn to stand on my own two feet. And I learned this right next to him.
Anyone who knows him knows adventure. I’m sure of it. In those three weeks he pushed me out of my comfort zone and to the limits. So when people ask about summer or talk about road trips, sure, I’ll talk about him. I mean…how could I not? I would say he changed me, but he did something even better: he forced me to change MYSELF.
If I can say thank you to him for anything, it would be for helping me stand alone and equipping me with the confidence and faith in myself that I desperately needed; the okay feeling with being by myself and the feeling of being free underneath the stars. These tools he gave me would unexpectedly aid me in a really hard but necessary decision three months later.
This is not a post about how I miss my ex and how I made a huge mistake. This isn’t a plea to start over and try again. This is a post in which I realize that because he is part of my past doesn’t mean what he taught me is too. It’s because of that road trip and because of the memories we made, like it or not, TOGETHER that I am happy, I am whole, I am okay.
So, yeah, the past is the past. You can’t change it. You can’t erase it. You can’t forget about it as hard as you try. But you can learn from it and draw out the good stuff and embrace it.
Ask me about my road trip, ask me about my summer, ask me about that hashtag on Instagram and I’ll tell you it’s where I found myself. And it’s a piece of me because of that.