10 years is a long time. I feel like a totally different person than the girl I was 10 years ago. So much has happened and so much has changed. How I view the world has evolved from what it was 10 years ago—along with my goals, priorities, opinions, fears, and dreams. Ten years holds a lot of missed experiences. Ten years is a long time to be gone.
Movemeant’s #DoItForYou #DoItForHer campaign asks that you think of a time when you were not your best self. A time when you felt alone, confused, or maybe vulnerable. Feb. 27, 2009 is the day my life turned upside-down. It embroiled all of those feelings and so many more. Feb. 27th was also the first day, in my very long journey, of rediscovering my best self.
When I first met Jourdan, I thought he was the weirdest person I had ever encountered. He was an unmissable ball of energy, always laughing and always joking everywhere he went. I remember he once drew on my car window with a tube of cherry chapstick—which never came off entirely after that—and yet, all I could do was laugh because his smile and playfulness was so intoxicating. I was legitimately baffled when Jourdan first showed interest in me. I had no idea how this beautiful, charismatic, and hilarious man could actually be into me?! But he was.
After months of flirting, we finally had our first kiss. He was giving me these puppy dog eyes that I had never seen before, just begging for me to kiss him. I played coy for about two seconds and then I did. The best part then, and still to this day, is the butterflies I felt when it happened.
I fell fast and I fell hard. The girl who existed in this relationship felt so loved and she felt so confident. She had so many dreams for what the future held––and to her, there was never a future without Jourdan in it.
Today, I feel so bad for this girl. She is oblivious. She is naive. She thinks she is invincible. She has no idea that the world as she knows it is about to be gone.
I was confused when Jourdan’s brother called me on the morning he died. I was also irritated and scared if I’m being completely honest. But I remember calling Jourdan ~100 times or so to figure out why his brother wanted to meet me. Jourdan never answered, no matter how many times I tried him, and before I knew it his brother was outside my house waiting for me.
As the words came out of his mouth, I could hear what he was saying but I couldn’t process them. It didn’t make any sense. I asked a few logistical questions and calmly walked back towards my house. I remember not being able to breathe.
“Keep it together. Breathe. In. Out. In Out.”
I almost made it up all of the stairs before I collapsed.
This was the lowest time of my life. My time with Jourdan, and the experience of losing him, has defined me. For a long time after, I let my emotions drive my decisions. I picked up a pattern of self-sabotage. I bailed on my high school AP tests, stopped going to class, went to my safety college, despite getting into my dream school, and threw myself into toxic relationships. The once ambitious, carefree, confident girl with so many dreams of the future no longer felt worthy of any of those things.
“Why should I get to be happy when he doesn’t?”
I kept a journal for a long time after Jourdan died. Knowing this anniversary was coming up, I made the decision to read through it and it was, I'm not exaggerating here, an emotional roller coaster. Reading the journal helped me realize how different I am today––how much I have matured since the days when I let my grief and my emotions dictate my future. I have also realized that this experience has left me with an insecurity that hovers over me every day. An insecurity rooted in the fear that if I am too happy or things are going to well, that it's all going to be taken away and my world will come crashing down yet again. Of course our experiences leave us with scars, but overall, I am really am proud of who I am today. I have grown up a lot and put in the work to get to where I am personally, professionally and emotionally.
After pages and pages and four years of denial, sorrow, and regret, I finally wrote the words: “you are dead, and you are never coming back.” Four long years to give myself permission to let go. Four years to give myself permission to be happy again.
In May of 2013, I found hope. I didn’t know it at the time but I was going through one of the biggest transitions in my life getting rid of toxic relationships and letting in the love. I found my love for Izaak and in doing so, I found my love for myself once again.
“Is it weird that I am terrified to read backwards in this journal? Maybe I’m just not in the sad mood anymore. I don’t want to cry anymore. I feel like I have finally hit a point in my life where I can move forward and not get stuck in my sadness.”
So often we make excuses for our own unhappiness. I didn't want to be happy. I didn’t want to break free from the sadness and guilt and anger because that meant letting go of Jourdan. I have learned that, as time goes on, we need to take ownership of our lives and to do that, I had to evolve.
Meeting Izaak changed my life in more ways that I can describe. Izaak wasn't scared of my cracks, of my tears, of my pain. Instead he acknowledged my feelings and supported my growth.
It has been six years since I met Izaak and made that last journal entry. It has taken me that whole time to pick up the pieces from the damage I had done, reclaim the life I wanted and rediscover my worth. I moved to a new city, got a job that supported my growth and started investing in my own wellbeing. Stumbling upon SoulCycle changed everything for me. Fitness was never a strength of mine so finding joy and strength in something that previously made me feel embarrassed and insecure was empowering. I started to gain confidence in myself and wanted to try to new things, meet new people and start hustling to build this life that I had dreamed of. SoulCycle led me to Movemeant and helped me finally find my community. One sprint, one hug, one girls night, one margarita, one breath, one day at a time and today I find myself living a new life. I have worked really hard to get my shit together and am so grateful to have a partner who loves me endlessly, a group of friends who believe in me and inspire me and a family who I adore being around.
Through it all, the lesson I learned is: you can’t stop bad things from happening and when it does, you have to invest in yourself and prioritize your happiness above all. It may take you months, years or even a decade to recover but you can come out on top. The work you invest in yourself every single day is worth it. Because that’s the thing about self-worth, no one else can define it but you. It’s not up for debate. It’s up to me.
I know now that I'll always find my way, but it definitely helps if I’m on a bike that goes nowhere.
A note from Jessi:
Catch me at We Dare to Bare this year and join me in celebrating every part of yourself. From your lows to your highs, you are worthy and powerful and deserve to celebrate every bit of your happiness. #DoItForYou and do it for the part of yourself who needs a little extra love. Our whole Movemeant community is here to support you.