california: the breakthrough

I had a freak out this morning. If you can believe that. Five days in heaven and I come back to have a panic attack at my office desk— make sense to you? Well, it didn’t to me until I talked it out with my best friend this morning. Allow me to explain— it was 75 degrees, but as we drove up the California coastline the climate began to vary and emotions began to pop.

Photography by A. Saravia

I couldn’t believe my eyes. The perfect songs were playing as the cool breeze eased the afternoon sun. We were driving North for oysters. As Bob Marley’s “Is This Love” started to play, the last six months began to replay in my head: The Hamptons trip, the writing, the photoshoots, the parties with my favorite people, and now this…driving up the California coastline. To my right, sat an aspiring singer/songwriter, who I got to speak to about the creative process; no one had ever understood me like that before. To my left, sat a new friend, who I noticed never complained and had a West Coast “chill” that I pulled from her personality while she wasn’t looking. (I brought in my purse. I’d hoped that it wouldn’t go bad as soon as my feet touched the East Coast pavement.)

Photography by A. Saravia

I knew I had to travel. It had been an itch that I had been having all year. I knew if I traveled, something would come in full circle; there was something to be seen. As I looked out onto this music video moment, it snapped— I was happy with myself. More importantly, I was happy by myself. I still had faults. I had a basket of insecurities, but I’d worked on myself enough to go places despite of them. I’d worked on myself enough to know how to tell when I’m craving something. After all, I knew I needed to travel and in some weird way, I knew it needed to be to California. Sure, mistakes had been made, but I could see how far a year of this struggle had changed my path. It was true though, I was different from last year (God knows I had spent half of it dragging my feet). I had managed to shed so many labels that I, myself, had placed. I realize now that  had my past relationship been perfect, I may have never survived it. I had needed to be alone. I wasn’t ready to be someone else’s until I was my very own.

As I stared out into the ocean, I had one thought that stook me to my core: I don’t need anyone to be happy and no one needs me to happy. Perhaps it was my codependent and controlling tendencies that had clouded this from being clear to me before. This was the very thought that I think slowly snowballed into a panic attack upon my arrival. It’s a scary thing to realize that you don’t need anyone to be happy, it’s even scarier to know that no one needs you.

I suspect that in having such a happy moment about being alone, it made me fear that the only way I could be happy was if I was alone. I think this morning I felt doomed to chose between being with someone or feeling complete, but I got ahead of myself. This is just the first step to a relationship with someone else. First, me. Then, us.

As I ranted on about my moment and the panic, my best friend reminded me that I’m working through steps. She reminded me that after the “me” part, in time, there will be room for more and that will be a whole other ball game of fun.

Everyday, my best friend sits there in front of her computer and reminds me that no matter what… there is a coastline drive waiting for me out there. No matter what happens to me, she reminds me of that. I think she understood before I did that I didn’t need anyone to be happy. She seems to think that I’m amazing all on my very own. For that, we’re calling her California, from here on out.

I don’t know where you are on your journey, but I can tell you what I have learned about mine. In a nutshell, I don’t need anyone to be happy. I have had a thrilling six months only because I decided to. I decided to challenge myself. I stopped auto-piloting in new crowds and experiences, I replaced “I don’t fit” with “let’s pretend I fit here” and then, I would! I accepted my mistakes and forgave myself for them. I saw the weird situations and learned to work through them. I invested in myself and I let go of the rest. It’s my own fault I love my life and it’s my own fault that I didn’t feel this way before. Though it scares the sh*t of of me to know that I don’t need anyone, I feel fortunate enough to have people in my life that I want in it. To know that they don’t have to be there, makes me more appreciative of everything I get from them. It’s the option of not needing each other that I find romantic now.

The West Coast shed light on the fact that I am mine. Are you yours?

While you sit with that, ladies & gents…the first part of this California story:

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About Antonella Saravia

Antonella is a freelance writer. Graduated from Purdue University, Antonella is based out of New York City and Nicaragua, where she was raised. Follow her via Twitter @tonesaravia & Instagram via @tsaravia.

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