here’s my story. what’s yours?

Caution: cliches ahead! Read on (I want your thoughts), but consider yourself warned.


(Image Source: Celestine Rhythm)

“Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better? But because I knew you…I have been changed for good.” – For Good, Wicked

Every once in a while, you meet someone special who changes you–for better or for worse, but without a doubt: for good.

“Just a second we’re not broken just bent / And we can learn to love again” – Just Give Me A Reason, P!nk

The old cliche goes that if you really love something, you should let it go. If it comes back to you, then you know it’s yours to keep.

Sometimes, though, something that good deserves to be let go for good.

“Sometimes we feel so scared and sick that we just love who we are with” – Who We Are With, Paradise Fears

It’s easy to hang onto something about which we care a lot or have attached ourselves in some way. When I was in the third grade, my parents and I went to the store and bought this adorable white stuffed bear that played a song (I don’t even remember which song now) when you pressed this big red heart that the bear was holding. It was a Valentine’s Day gift for my favorite teacher, and I was proud for picking out what would surely be the best present in the whole class–but on the evening of February 13th, I suddenly announced that I wouldn’t be bringing it to school. I liked Valentino too much and didn’t want to give him up; besides, I had already named him, so of course I couldn’t let him go now.

My parents, being the indulgent people they could sometimes be, dutifully ran to the store at 10 PM on Valentine’s Day eve, bought the only bear left on the shelf (a slightly sad-looking, plain brown bear with no musical talent and a tiny red heart), and gave it to me without a word. I brought it to school the next day and presented it to my teacher, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of  dissatisfaction that came with gifting this subpar gift. At the same time, I felt guilty for keeping something that I knew wasn’t mine in the first place.

 “And in the end you’re still my friend at least we did intend / For us to work…I had to learn what I’ve got, and what I’m not, and who I am” – I Won’t Give Up, Jason Mraz

Ending a relationship takes a lot of thought, but you learn a lot from it, too. If you’re lucky, you even come out of the experience as a better person, as well as with a newfound appreciation for someone whom you respect and fervidly admire.

I don’t like to talk much about my personal life here, but this is one of those times where I break my rule and say that I’m definitely one of the lucky ones. I still have a hell of a lot to learn, but one thing I know: there’s no replacement for the things you learn from being a relationship with someone, just as there is no replacement for true friendship. Sometimes it just takes a journey There and Back Again to realize how good of a thing you’ve got.

“Marriage is supposed to be forever, but friendship can be forever, too.” – Ella Enchanted

Ten years from now, I’ll look back on this post and smile at my 20-something year old self trying to make grandiose world view claims about the end of my first real relationship, just like I laughed last year when I found my old high school Xanga entries talking about classroom drama and prom and college apps and boys. The feelings are real, obviously–but that doesn’t make them a whit less wonderful to document and read in hindsight. I don’t follow many blogs where people ramble on about these kinds of topics though, and it felt weird adding photos or a recipe to a reflection so I’ve decided that I’m leaving this post here for Future Me to read. Call it lovely off-topic catharsis!

“I decided long ago not to walk in anyone’s shadows / If I fail, if I succeed, at least I’ll live as I believe / No matter what they take from me, they can’t take away my dignity” – Greatest Love of All, Whitney Houston

Even though this post isn’t about food or baking or delicious amazing stuff, I know the topic will resonate with all of you in different (and hopefully meaningful) ways. Whatever your current life status, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

What part of your personal story comes to mind?

What wise, eclectic words would you have now for your teenage/younger self?




10 Replies to “here’s my story. what’s yours?”

  1. A very thoughtful post Ala! I would tell my teenager self to take more chances, be bolder and trust my gut feelings.

    1. Very sound advice, Deb 🙂 I feel like I would do the same, but it’s nice to hear it from somebody else wiser!

  2. Great insight! I’m 34, but I’ve learned so much in the last year about love. There are SO MANY different kinds of it, and you can hit different stages in one relationship. My husband and I are about to have our 7th anniversary, and we’ve hit that comfortable, dedicated love stage that sometimes feels sort of boring. The infatuation and romantic stage is long gone and we’re fumbling through this one. It’s still love, and a stronger love than before, a more sacrificial love, but it’s love. You can also love someone but know you’d never work out forever. So, my advice is to love as much as you can for as long as you can, but know that things change and things aren’t forever.

    1. Andrea, I loved reading your comment SO much! Thanks for taking the time to write out that thoughtful reply–it’s awesome to hear the experiences of someone who’s having a whole new journey of her own. That’s truly amazing. I do believe that love comes in many different forms, and I’m in a bit of no-man’s land right now about where I’m at with that. But it’s good to know that we’re all out there figuring this out 🙂

  3. I love this SO much. My advice would be one of my favorite quotes from Winston Churchill, which is “never give up, never give up, never never never give up.” It’s sometimes so overwhelming as a young person starting out, but everyone has so much to offer, and sometimes confidence is all you need. Also, I was delighted to see the ELLA ENCHANTED quote in your post. I’m a children’s book publisher, and that is one of the first books I ever published in my current position. It was the author’s first book, and it was a wonderful experience being part of a book that has meant so much to so many people! 🙂

    1. I love that quote, Kate–and even more than that, I love your insight! It’s funny because when I think of myself as a young person starting out, it’s almost endearing to think what a long way ahead I have yet to go, and how many adventures are waiting out there. On another note: Ella Enchanted is my favorite book of all time and my heart’s a-flutter to think that you had a role in helping to give that book wings! I’m so glad you did, so thank you! Funny story, I met Gail quite a few years back while I was interning at a children’s lit agency and the memory of eating popsicles with her while my heart beat a mile a minute will be one that I always cherish 🙂

  4. This is beautiful, Ala and thanks for being open and sharing your personal stories here. Life is a journey and sometimes we have no idea where it’s going to. So always stay positive and enjoy the ride. Sending you hugs to keep you warm!

    1. Your positivity’s a joy for me to read, Linda 🙂 thanks so much!

  5. What would I tell myself? Wow – that’s tough. I guess to not let other people get me down, which I could still use as advice right now. Also to not worry too much. Again I could use that advice now!!

    I have weird stories like that too that stick out amid everything else. I have a shirt, for example, that my grandfather picked out when he went shopping with my grandmother. I didn’t really like it, so I never wore it. Now that he’s gone I can’t part with it and wish I would have worn it. I’m actually crying right now as I type this.

    1. I was so touched by your comment, Laura–you always share the most insightful things, and I’m really glad you did here. I think we all have great advice that we wish we’d take a little bit more…but then again, what’s life without learning along the way and forgiving ourselves as we do, right? I loved your story about the shirt your grandfather gave you; even though it’s sad to reflect on, I really do think that those moments enable us to look forward and learn to cherish what we have even more. Stay strong, girl! We’re with you all the way.

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