I have believed in “soul mates” my entire life. When I was growing up, I thought this meant I would find a man, fall in love, and live happily ever after. We would meet, and I would know that he would be the love of my life above all others. I just had to find my knight in shining armor in a perfect little fairy tale. It was easy to believe. Life was simple. The universe had a plan to lead me to one person. And that’s all I would ever need, right?
As I have gotten older, I have learned just how complicated this world can be. There is no fairy tale ending, just one long journey that gets more complex as time goes on. I find myself constantly reflecting, changing, and growing. Yet, despite becoming more confused about life, I have also begun to fall madly in love with it. And while I once lived my life in pursuit of one person to save me and sweep me off my feet away from all my problems, I now look for people to share in my moments. Some of these moments might be romantic, but most happen in the spaces of daily life and the embrace of community and friendship. These are moments shared briefly, but with people who have changed my everything.
Maybe those defining moments are what truly make a “soul mate.” For whatever reason, you and another human being share a space, one which you might never be in again, and it feels alive. It feels familiar, yet enticingly foreign. Somehow, by coexisting with another, you learn something about yourself you never knew. It goes beyond an exchange between people; a soul mate leads you to reflect on who you truly are.
For me, these moments are captured boldly in my mind as defining points of change in my life:
It was when he sat next to me on the beach and asked me about God.
It was when we all built a fort on her back porch and slept under the stars.
It was that weekend we started as strangers but ended in a warm embrace.
It was when we left the library and opted for cupcakes and Cool Runnings.
It was when we sat in the empty dorm until 3 a.m. and listened to her play guitar.
It was when we fell asleep on my kitchen floor after she read us poetry, and we tried to convince each other we would all be OK.
It was when I ran through the snow with her, digging out cars and singing out loud.
It was when he made me cups of tea, and we fell asleep to the sounds of the ocean.
It was when he hugged me and didn’t have to explain why.
It was when we watched her walk down the aisle.
Some of these people are still in my life; some are not. Some who stay by my side for now may not be there for much longer; some may be there forever. Some I have lost because of my own mistakes; some I have watched leave simply because of their journey of life. But, it doesn’t matter how long we shared our time, it just matters that we lived together. We learned together, we grew together.
It is really unbelievable when you think about it: There have been billions of people, millions of years, infinite moments. And yet, we have crossed paths with people in that one special and finite space, making timeless connections. Somehow, we ended up together. The sheer unlikelihood of our meetings makes them even more significant.
Some people think that soul mates are meant to complete you, to fill some emptiness. But I think soul mates are meant to show us where we are whole, to show us a fullness and a worth that we didn’t know was there. They force us to reflect on who we are and what we live for.
I don’t know if I am ever going to get married. All I know is that I am never going to restrict myself to leaning on only one person defined as my soul mate. I need all kinds of relationships in my life. No one person will ever save me. I can only learn how to better take care of myself, with the things I learn from encountering others.
I challenge you to reflect. Who have you walked next to in those moments that have changed you? How much of yourself have you shared and seen reflected in the lives of others? When have you let yourself be vulnerable and been supported? Feel the embrace of relationship. Grow with people. Let them reveal your worth and notice the worth of others. Do not get lost in worries about the future or insecurities of the past. Just embrace the energy and power in the fleeting moment shared with another.
—Andrea West, TWLOHA Fall 2013 Intern