a life of hope
a life of hope

A year of hope.

     

Most of you have no idea who I am; those closest to me know that this last year was full of new year's resolutions, aspirations and thoughts of how 2016 would play out. Little did I know, it would be the most exciting year of my life. As defined by Webster, excitement (noun | ex·cite·ment  |\ik-ˈsīt-mənt\) : something that arouses enthusiasm and eagerness; an exciting incident. Now, let me tell ya’ll about my so called “incident”…

Imagine your typical Tuesday in Publix (for you non-southerners, this would be your Kroger, Harris Teeter, etc.) shopping for the healthiest foods post-breakup bod (we’ve all been there). Just like your average 24 year old, I skimmed the magazine section while waiting to check out with my kale, Crest Whitestrips and Pinot Noir.  A few covers caught my eye: Kim & Kanye, Blake & Gwen, JoJo & wait… is that my ex boyfriend!?

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t heard rumors that my ex of nearly 4 years was taking part in a reality show I’d been watching since I was in high school. It wasn’t until that moment in the checkout line at Publix that the rumors materialized in my mind. It had already been incredibly surreal to see names that I had always looked to as sources of truth, like US Weekly reaching out to me. I even had “Reality Steve” (who is apparently a big deal on the reality TV scene) reach out with facts about my past relationship that only those closest to my ex and I would know, let alone a complete stranger. That’s when this “exciting” incident really had my attention.

Until now, I’ve not shared my truth with the public in any form or fashion. Don’t get me wrong, it was very tempting (and shocking) to be offered such large amounts of money from numerous publications to comment and /or share my side of the story. At the end of the day, money makes the world go round, right? However, neither money nor fame was my focus at the time. The respect I had for my past relationship, good or bad, outweighed any price tag dangled in front of my face. After all, my relationship did end just 6 weeks prior to the show being filmed, so I was trying to digest the timeline of everything that was becoming a reality right in front of my eyes.

What is my truth, you ask? My truth is pretty simple. Break ups suck no matter how you slice and dice them. Anyone who ever cares for another person for any amount of time has difficulty saying goodbye and letting that special bond fade into the past. What made my moving on from my past relationship more difficult than usual was that I had to deal with it twice, once when I initially found out he was cast for the show and then again when it was aired on national television. Not only that, but when our relationship ended the door was never completely closed. The last conversation I had with him was just weeks prior to Jojo’s season of the Bachelorette being filmed and in a nutshell, I was told we would revisit things in due time. You could imagine my shock when the next things I heard were that he’d flown to Los Angeles to find love on a reality TV show. Oh yeah, did I mention how shocking it was to see my face in magazines and attached to internet articles at the same time everyone else was seeing them?

The weeks and months to follow were not easy, I’m not going to lie or pretend to be someone I’m not. I was hurt, deceived, betrayed and ultimately utterly confused and blindsided. The truth is I shed a good amount of tears, perfected the entire Lemonade album and spent even more time exploring my palate for fine wine. Nothing could have prepared me for a break up that came with a side of national television and deceit so extreme that led me to believe there was a rekindling of our relationship in the future when in fact that was never his intention. I was even more hurt to see strangers on the internet adding their opinions and passing their judgements toward me, someone they’d never met or taken the time to get to know. I didn’t sign up to become a pawn in a story I wasn’t telling and I definitely didn’t ask to be compared to JoJo. It was a harsh reality check that sticks and stones do hurt, no matter how strong or resilient a person may be under normal circumstances, let alone these.

You may be wondering why I am sharing my experiences with the same set of strangers, potentially, who formed their own opinions and assumptions about me prior. Well, as I reflect back to this time last year and how much I’ve grown as a person, I feel compelled to share my story. One year changed my life forever. I grew through adversity and the mean things that were said about me. I also reacted less than favorably in some instances, losing sight of who I was and what was important to me. I definitely learned that when the heat is turned up in the kitchen and you’re under attack, it can be easy to respond in ways you wouldn’t otherwise if you removed the stress from the situation. While I experienced a “break up on steroids”, in my opinion, I’ve also gained a deeper understanding of who I am and what I want to do.

I learned A LOT in the past year from this experience, but a few of my key takeaways were:

  • There is always a bigger plan. A dear friend of mine shared with me, “God answers in 3 ways; He says yes and gives you what you want, He says no and gives you something better or He says wait and gives you the best”.

  • The important things in life are not things. You never know how much a strong support system of family and friends are until you are backed into a corner.

  • When life hands you a sour lemon, make something that resembles lemonade.

I’ve figured out that I’m passionate about a few very basic things that I want to write about and share over time. I feel that I express myself best in written form and I’ve challenged myself in this next year to dedicate more time to doing the things that make me happy, writing being one of them. This blog is where I hope to share fun experiences, my thoughts and feelings and just be me. I have many exciting adventures on the horizon, which I plan to share on the blog moving forward. I hope you will enjoy the time spent reading my thoughts and if nothing else, you will see that there are other real girls just looking to navigate through their 20s the best they know how, learning and growing along the way. “Incidents” happen, but they don’t define who we are. Stay tuned for my next adventure and until then, cheers!

Xo

Hope