When life tastes a little too bitter, or a day drowns me in the particular existential crises that come with being 25, wildly imaginative, highly sensitive, and emotional to my core, I always come back to one thing. More than one thing, though, it is a collection of them—of people whose presence in my life, however quirky and flawed, rests atop any pseudo-problems and keeps them warm, somewhat contained. I don’t do this because someone told me to—a self-appointed guru or therapist, perhaps—but because it’s the only reliable salve I know.
I know that however lost and uncertain I may be or become in cloudier moments, I have succeeded in one thing: building and nurturing a tapestry of lovable and loving weirdos who each have my back in their own way, which is not to say perfectly, but in the best way they know how. I know that every single person in my self-selected orbit drops a little more color into my life, and that it all blends together in a shade I’d happily paint the walls with. I know that this did not always feel like the case, that this isn’t the case for everyone, facts which raise the temperature on this reassurance even more.
I’ve gotten to this place by looking past what doesn’t matter—how late someone always is, or how their particular insecurities manifest and make me think too much of my own—and focusing more on what does: the salad of small and large gestures that each one of these people has made to be part of my life, to show me they care. Size matters far less than repetition here, and I’ve learned that those who matter will return, regardless of any distance created by geography, life choices, or new loves.
I’ve also learned that “those who matter” aren’t always obvious at first glance—that such worthiness can be found scattered across the most surprising faces. I’ve learned that, with time, the proverbial walls built up around people tend to crumble, making space for a bond they never thought could exist. That transformation in itself adds a comforting weight to this life—the constancy of change as reassuring as it is scary.
I’ve been humbled by this, less prone to snap judgments and more likely to err on the benefit side of any doubts. I’ve come to realize that nobody comes bearing all the gifts you desire and that to expect or insist otherwise will only lead to a much less-peopled life. Instead, each person delivers what they can, wrapped in their most-particular paper. Thrown together, it is a hodgepodge without obvious curation, a mess of moments high and low that stick to your insides and give you your story. It’s a story I fall back on many times, a story I would never reach for—would not recognize—without all of you.