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So much can happen in just one year. This time last year, I was eagerly awaiting the return of my boyfriend from his deployment in Afghanistan. He was due home on Halloween. I also had no idea what I was doing with my life. There’s some definite backstory there that I don’t want to get into right now, because this post wasn’t meant to be that. Just know that it all turned out for the best, and that (here comes a cliche), true love will always find a way.
In short, I was finishing up an internship with a company I loved in a job I hated. I was far away from home in a tiny town with no job offers in sight. Admitting that I had failed at something, specifically a well-paying job, was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Let me rephrase that, I felt like a failure, though I didn’t really fail. I chose to pass it up because I was miserable. Most would say it wasn’t failure, but to me, it felt like I had hit ROCK BOTTOM. Maybe what terrified me most was having no plan. The only thing solid in my life at that moment (besides family and friends) was my love for Mike and my desire to be with him when he got home.
I felt like my life was over before it even began. Enter quarter-life crisis.
Since that time, I’ve grown in more ways than I can explain. I was humbled. I took a job as an elderly caregiver (the job that had got me through college), struggled to pay my bills (dang student loans), and slept on my best friend’s couch. The thought of moving back in with my parents was unbearable, so I held on. During that time, Mike and I had some ups and downs. We lived an hour apart, so I could only see him once or twice a week.
War is not easy on the mind or body, and it follows you everywhere. It haunts your dreams. As Mike puts it, no matter how much you want to feel, you just can’t, and not a day goes by that he doesn’t think about his time in Afghanistan. It makes building a relationship difficult. We worked through the issues one day at a time. There were times when I didn’t think our relationship would last. I also didn’t know that I could love someone like I loved him. I learned a very important lesson during that time, and when anyone asks for my advice in relationships, I will tell them this one thing:
Love and long-term commitment are based on this factor. Decide how willing you are to put up with the person’s issues-it could be anything- their previous baggage, the skeleton’s in their closet, or their weird nuances and hobbies. If you can handle all of those things for the rest of their life, then it will work. If it’s true, selfless love, you’ll know.
So, I was searching for a job in St. Louis with little luck (that’s where Mike was living). I had interviews, but my skills and experience were never right for the position. I began to lose hope, and my self-esteem began to drop.
One day in March, when I had given up on ever finding a job in my field, I got a callback for a position I haphazardly applied to. The pay wasn’t great, but it was focused on writing full-time and doing a little public relations work on the side, and I was desperate to get to St. Louis so Mike and I could start building a life together. Yesterday was my six month anniversary there. My job as a blogger and PR specialist, while also learning the powers of SEO, has been a difficult, but wonderful, learning experience. I’ve received a raise since I started, and I’ve made amazing friends. I also learned more about the blogging community and how side hustling can change your life. I started this blog because of it.
Mike and I chose to move in together in May, and our first night spent in our apartment was the day before my birthday. I woke up to these flowers. We agreed on no presents due to the large amount of cash we had just dropped on our new couch. I was completely content.
Living as a couple is hard in the beginning. You’ll question your choices. We are both learning every day about how to love, forgive, and give each other necessary space. We hope to be engaged soon, but money seems to have a way of disappearing, doesn’t it? I try not to be anxious about it because I know in my heart that we both already feel married. Maybe in the next year, this will all play out and I can do another recap. Until then, we live in a little apartment with our dog, and we are happy.
I am not the same person I was one year ago. I am confident. I am happy. I feel secure. I know I have weaknesses, and I have accepted them. I also have strengths, and I plan to use them to my benefit. I know that everything is going to be okay, no matter what happens, good or bad.
Life goes on, and you can either fight it and be miserable, or use it to grow, change, and become a stronger person. I have high hopes for 2015, and believe things will continue to go up.
Have a great one and keep the faith!