Always Choose Yourself.
Since coming to Bali, I have taken a lot of time to figure out what makes my heart happy, what brings me peace, and what my ideal life would look like if I could choose.
Truth is, I have the power to choose, we all do. Yet, sometimes, for some strange subconscious reason, we choose things that are not ideal, don’t fit the scenario, and take us far away from the world we want to live in. Why do we do this? Why do we choose things that we know are not right for us, why do we stay in bad relationships, and why do we hold on to things that hurt? When I say We, I mean Me. And a lot of us.
The world right now seems to be in a perpetual state of unhappiness, coexisting alongside a state of bliss that we all have access to but only few can see. People hold on to normalcy and rules, hoping that it makes things easier to handle. Yet, no matter how much you think you have a handle on the situation, sometimes things just come crumbling down, and we don’t seem to know why. So I will share a little story.
I moved to Bali in June because I fell in love. I met a wonderful man while traveling there, and we agreed that I would go to California, settle some things, come back to be with him, and have an adventure. We got ‘married’ the first day we met, we loved telling everyone that. Inseparable, smitten, connected… we were good together.
After months of planning, and a few days before I was supposed to get on the plane to Bali, he said, “I don’t want you to go to Bali for me,” followed by “I’m not ready for a relationship like this.” This coming from the man who’d swept me off my feet, made so much effort so that this could happen, rented us a house, and introduced me to his family. He would call me everyday and write me poems.
I felt rejected at first. I thought to myself, We made these plans together, I am not going for You, I am going for Us. But after some thought, I was able to see that he was right. There was no Us, and there was no Him. There was only Me.
I realized this and decided that I would go to Bali to figure out why I thought this was going to be good for me. Why I was willing to drop everything and move to the other side of the world. It couldn’t be just because there was a love interest. He could not be my reason.
I was sitting in my friend’s living room in an internal state of panic about being rejected so soon before my big move. Looking over to one side, I saw all my belongings stuffed in one large suitcase, and on the other side, I saw an apartment that was lived in, full of memories on every wall. Pictures, books, a cat, coffeemaker.
I felt a huge lack of purpose, her apartment symbolizing way more than what it typically would… she had a home, I didn’t. Suddenly I heard this voice, it was very much internal but it was loud and clear. It said, “Take your power back. Grab it by the horns, bring it back to you.” I got up from my chair ecstatic, almost as if I had discovered a new continent.
How did I get to this point, how did I give all my power away like that? Where did it go? How did I become so feeble? I took my heavy ass suitcase down six flights of stairs and headed to the airport. I was going to move to Bali, alone.
I haven’t had any anxiety about my move since that day. I no longer felt alone and victimized by the situation. I took my power back, I did as I was told. I told him I would keep the house he had rented for us and I would just start a new life and focus on working, writing, doing Yoga and being happy. Same as in any other place. Because why should I not? If I was moving here for me, nothing had to change.
Then it clicked… I was only devastated about him leaving because I thought that moving to Bali would make all my insecurities go away, that it would make me lovable. That being with him would solve all my life’s mysteries. He picked up on that way quicker than I could.
I had no hopes of seeing him again, and committed to doing this on my own. My first month was really hard. I felt like a child being punished for bad behavior. I didn’t know exactly what I had done wrong, but I had a vague idea. I was looking for love outside of myself.
Alone in a new town, in a house that felt so sterile and weird, blocked off from the outside world, away from everyone I knew, I cried every day for a week, I got sick, I missed him but also hated him for putting me through this misery. But deep down I knew he was pushing me to be bigger and stronger than someone who turns around and goes back to LA because she can’t handle the pain.
I don’t quit. I kept working hard to make sense of my new life. He said he admired my patience and strength, but still didn’t want a relationship.
I was angry. I felt broken. But I also appreciated him for making me be true to myself. I loved him so much. I could have forgotten about this love and gone back to my life in California. Could have erased this bad dream and pretended none of it had happened. But I refused to let him dictate the course of my destiny. “This can’t be all about him,” I thought to myself.
We sometimes think that if only this or that happened, everything would be okay. But right now is all we have, and it should be enough. The epiphany was, my reality would not have been any different if he was around.
He left me, and the love I thought I knew left too. It will never come back. That love, that devotion to someone else, that impulsive passion that makes you do crazy things, it’s called ego. I said goodbye to that along with his beautiful face. I saw him again after all this ordeal, but I didn’t feel the same. Sitting awake in my bed at night, I tried to figure out where the love went, what happened, or what I did wrong.
I felt I wasn’t good enough, even though I was transforming my life from the inside out, alone and brokenhearted. I still felt like I wasn’t good enough. How silly, I didn’t realize the love was here all along. I was the love, and I neglected it. I tried to transform it into something tangible, accessible only though someone else.
We saw each other a few more times. I watched him be selfish and cowardly, coming around when he wanted, always asking me for some kind of help but never giving me anything. I carried myself with grace, with an occasional case of temper tantrum, but overall, I held it together. This rejection gave me an opportunity to develop a stronger relationship with myself.
I realized a huge part of why he was selfish is because he was committed to making himself happy and would not compromise just to please me. I thought it was obnoxious, but I almost envied his ability to put himself first. I never knew how to do that. I give all of me, my heart, and my soul when I love someone.
When I see someone be selfish now, I see the bond they have with themselves, a commitment they made to be a priority. My mind was blown. The fact that he didn’t want or need me taught me, every day, to love myself more.
I’m grateful. I know why I’m here now. I think his job is done, the punishment is done, the tough love is done. I am my own best friend and my own love affair. I’m still learning the ins of that relationship, but it’s so much more satisfying and stable than waiting for a man to actually see you and meet you halfway.
Choosing him over me made me run dry. He felt that. Choosing to learn his lessons over new lessons that could come my way made me lose my power. He felt that. Choosing a love that doesn’t feel real because it’s so impulsive and reckless means you will never find what’s real. He didn’t choose me. As a matter of fact, he thinks I talk too much. And drink too much. And curse too much.
He likes that I am strong, but told me to not get too strong. Basically, I’m just too much to take seriously. But I am fun as a friend.
It’s been two months now, long enough for me to know that I don’t want to wonder if he will come back. Or if he will call, maybe to ask how I am doing. I won’t wonder what could have happened if I was less myself and more the version of me he liked.
He will go out into the world and probably make someone really happy. He will meet someone who talks less, maybe feels less. She will be fine with being second best and not very strong. She will never know that he’s a coward for awakening a love bigger and stronger than anything he will ever know before having the courage to love back. They will choose each other. I will choose me.
Jade Moyano is a Brazilian-born travel writer, editor, and creative strategist living a location-independent life. She is in a quest to tell the stories that will shift conversations from mundane to mind-expanding. You can find her bouncing around the world, in LA or NYC (depends on the time of year), usually with a Yoga mat handy, too many books in her bag, and no return ticket. Her work can be seen in print magazines such as Monocle and Conde Nast Traveler UK. She also contributes to online publications such as Fathom, A Hotel Life, and SUITCASE Magazine. You can follow her on Instagram.