Tiny moments

It’s been three years since I met the boy that changed my life, and almost two years since we began dating. In many ways Brian and I grew up together. He took me on my first date. We went to see a movie, and despite its awkwardness, it’s still one of my favorite memories. Right before my first job interview, Brian texted me loving words of encouragement to calm my nerves. He’s always been the first person I go to, no matter what.

But it wasn’t just the small things that made me fall so in love with him. Every time I felt down about myself, he lifted me up. Being with Brian was the first time I felt truly respected by a boy. He made me feel a kind of safety I had never known before.

All of those things not only profoundly impacted my self esteem, but they also affected how I view relationships. After being with him for so long, I will never get myself into a relationship, platonic or romantic, where I am not respected. Because of him I know what truly being loved feels like. He also showed me that respect and love must be mutually given and earned. He taught me how to love unconditionally and with my whole heart. I’ll never be able to thank him enough for these lessons.

But somewhere in between junior prom planning and college applications, the terrifying reality of an expiration date on our relationship set in. As senior year approached, I felt like our time together was going to be cut short as soon as we walked the stage at graduation.

For a while, Brian and I only talked about it in regards to what colleges we were applying to, but what would happen to our relationship was never discussed. I began to torture myself by constantly thinking about if we would be together after we went to college.

Every time Brian held my hand, I couldn’t help thinking about how little time we had left together. Nine months until graduation became six. Every time we stayed up late on the phone, all I could think about was how I had one less call until we went our separate ways. Firsts with him were quickly turning into lasts.

I felt like I was spiraling because our relationship’s fate was so uncertain, and it took an emotional toll on me. Usually I would’ve just talked to him as soon as I started worrying, but I was afraid it was too soon since we hadn’t even finished the first semester of our senior year. A part of me knew that I wasn’t quite ready to process the answer I knew I’d get.

Ever since I was a little girl, I promised myself that I would not compromise my dreams for a boy. Even though Brian is so much more than just a boy to me, I owed it to myself to chase my dreams and go to college in Florida. Some part of me always knew Brian wouldn’t follow me, and that’s okay. I would be the world’s biggest hypocrite if I pressured him into abandoning his aspirations for mine. I want to watch him succeed in whatever path he chooses at A&M and beyond. I want him to chase his dreams and be incredibly happy in whatever path he chooses.

We eventually talked about it shortly before Christmas. We agreed that even though it was not ideal, we would break up before we leave for college.

Everyone in high school knows the terrifying reality of an expiration date — the inevitably painful parting of ways that comes after graduation. For some it’s best friends, for others it’s a romantic relationship, and for the truly lucky, it’s both. I consider myself extremely lucky.

Leaving behind a romantic partner, friends, parents and even pets is incredibly hard. It’s something everyone goes through, and it’s an inevitable part of growing up. That doesn’t mean it’s enjoyable. Whether you’re staying at home for college or moving across the country, things are going to change. Fully feeling all of the emotions that come with processing that is not bad. I clearly struggle with that, and it often takes me out of the moment. I’ve made a conscious effort to stop that. You need to truly appreciate holding hands with your partner and laughing with a friend so hard you cry. Be present in every tiny moment because that’s what you’ll always cherish.