I was driving home after work & had just taken my exit off of the interstate, rounding the wide exit curve, when I noticed an eerie silence in the air. The radio was off & had been for the duration of my drive home, but I had only just noticed it in that moment. My mind & my heart have been so wildly consumed & distracted, it should come as no surprise to me that I spent my entire drive home in apparent silence. Beneath the surface, however, had been anything but quiet, as my mind seemingly howled out loud for only my ears to hear.
About two months ago, I started thinking about my future & all of the possibilities within it. I have shared in conversations with others that have made me think about & evaluate my past, my failed relationships. My strengths, my weaknesses. My own personal faults & how they contribute to both my demise & my success. I feel involved, yet disconnected, like I am harboring a secret. Heartbreak, for me, has never been in vain, because I have learned more about life from a broken heart than I ever have from being happy.
I have been thinking about all of the women I admire, all of them different & somehow the same. The women who can stand on their own & still love life, who find themselves whole even though they have once, twice, or three times, been broken. Women who have endured the fiercest storms & still survived, shedding their past & growing in strength for their future. The women who still believe in love, even if it may not be a piece in their destinies, even if love has changed them. I want to be the woman who is changed by love, but to be changed by love for the better, not for worse, just once. I want a love story that doesn't end with a broken heart, I simply want a love story that doesn't end.
And so I made my decision to travel the country for a year, because exploration on the open road & among the wild things is the only kind of love that has proven the power to change me for the better. I am building my life around a year-long road trip, but the trip has already changed me, & I am yet to travel even a single mile. My trip has already changed my life, & my itinerary is barely a sketch. I don't know what the future holds for me this year or next year, I don't know what my life will look like when I return home, nor can I know how the road will change me, I just know that the road will change me. I have long lived my life by the famous saying, What a difference one year makes, & this trip will be no exception to that rule. Neither will the year building up to my departure.
Over the years, over the course of my failures, I have learned who I am, & I have stopped making excuses for the people who won't accept me. I have learned what I want, & I won't beg the people to stay who don't match my effort. I have lived, I have loved, both of which have provided invaluable lessons, specifically for this season in my life.
Even still, knowing what I know now & being fully confident in myself & the direction of my life, I still feel inadequate sometimes. I am bombarded by the highlight reel of friends & family through social media, & I wonder if I have missed the mark. My mind can be a creative & brutal atmosphere that fills my own reflection with doubt. I am 29 years old, divorced, the only unmarried & childless of my five siblings (and seemingly, all of my friends). I live with my best friend, her husband, & their daughter, in their home. I am a waitress with a college degree, drowning in student loans. I have found my passion in & for life, I feel fulfilled, but there is still a piece of me that remains hidden under a veil.
Let me be real: I have many traits that aren't lovable. I know that I am difficult to love. I am stronger in spirit-- & harder to love--because of the ways that I have been broken. My heart is a work in progress, a project, too big of a project for most to even bother holding & protecting, which is why I hold it on my own. My heart is safer when it's held closer to me. I have learned that I am strong enough to carry that weight by myself, but I have known how wonderful the feeling to have someone to help me carry it. The adventurer in me wants to hit the road... yesterday. The hopeless romantic in me just wants to be chosen, cherished & loved. To be important enough to someone that they don't just walk away. The piece of me that is hidden under the veil is the broken heart that is still holding out hope for love.
I once told a dear friend, "This time in your life is just a season, & how beautiful to remember that seasons change." During this season in life, I have to remind myself that I am worthy & deserving of love... & that if love doesn't find its way to me, I will still find value in myself & in my life. I am trying to believe in love, even if I am a little jaded, because I have seen & witnessed it in the lives of others. I have been given small glimpses & teasing tastes of what love looks like, but I am yet to experience that unconditional love for myself. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist, nor does it mean that I will ever find it. I just know now that I am ready for it. Perhaps all along I have been ready for it, but I was just waiting for the right person to show me how ready I am. If I desire to be the woman who is changed by love for the better, then I need to let go of my fears in having my heart broken -- because sometimes our hearts get broken, but they get broken for all of the right reasons. And how will I ever know, if I don't ever try.
Megan Elizabeth is a storyteller based in Kalispell, Montana. Take a peek at her blog & portfolio, drop her a line, & follow her story on Facebook & Instagram.