So for the people in your life who have not known your worth, who have been reckless with your heart or fallen painfully short of your expectations, sincerely wish them well, forgive yourself for holding on to it and preventing yourself from really living, forgive them for their shortcomings (as well as your own), scoop up that huge beautiful life lesson and all the pieces of your heart, and sail on. You have mountains to move, dreams to dream, and a world to change, even if the only world is your own.
-- I Am That Girl, pg. 83
This is one of my favorite passages because let's be honest: It's not a matter of if, but a matter of when someone you love dearly disappoints you or breaks your heart. It's funny how we just assume a broken heart comes from a breakup with our significant other; the reality is that it comes in so many different shades of gray. One of my girlfriends, who is almost 30, recently confided in me and said, "I know it seems silly, but I keep holding out hope that my deadbeat dad will get it together one day and just show up on my door step apologizing and wanting to actually be in my life."
For her, it was her dad's inability to show up that broke her heart. For me, the worst heartbreaks I ever experienced were losing my best friend in a car accident, watching USC lose in the '05 Rose Bowl and finding out my dad had cancer.
The point is that people you love are going to disappoint you, and here's the kicker: you're going to disappoint and break the hearts of people you love, too. That being said, life is not about side-stepping heart break or avoiding the messy complicated moments in life. It's about learning to co-exist and grow with them. It's too easy to siphon off our hearts because we come across a few bad apples and allow those experiences to justify us not playing full out in life. One of my favorite authors (Brene Brown) makes a beautiful distinction regarding "courage." She said that for years we've defined courage as the willingness to put your life on the line, when in reality, she believes that real courage is the willingness to put your vulnerability on the line.
If I'm being honest, I got really good at pretending to be perfect all the time and had everyone convinced I had it all together. The reality is I started an entire organization dedicated to inspiring and encouraging girls (I AM THAT GIRL) because, frankly, I needed it! I had been hurt one too many times, disappointed a few thousand too many times and it was easy to keep people at arms distance (hell, after my last break up, I didn't date for years because I was so scared of getting my heart stomped on again!). But if I'm being candid with you, the walls we build up in our hearts to prevent people from really getting in, only keep us all alone in a castle built for one.
It's easy to be the girl who holds grudges, gathers ammunition for not trusting others and an endless list of excuses for why she took her heart off her sleeve. However, I'm asking you not to. I know, it's a huge ask. But I promise that the bravery required to not give up on people, to not give up on yourself is worth it.
I'm sorry that your dad drank too much, that you weren't told you were beautiful enough, that someone was reckless with your heart, that a friend stabbed you in the back, that the thoughts in your head are so mean towards yourself. I'm sorry that you didn't get your dream internship, or into your dream school, that girls at school are mean to you or that the person you have a crush on never looks twice at you. I'm sorry for all of the people who have hurt you (including yourself). But please trust me in that I promise these disappointments are essential ingredients to who you are and who you will become. Even if I could take them away from you, I wouldn't because in the midst to them you get to exercise the muscles of grace, patience, forgiveness and unconditional love. You get to shine in the mist of your storm, my dear, and that is the miracle of you, of all of us. You are exactly, precisely (to the minute) where you are supposed to be right now, so take a deep breath and say these words; I am that girl, the most badass version of me and today I choose to be in love with her.