For most of us, grief means reminiscing on the memory of a grandmother, a sibling or a pet, longing to bring something to life that cannot be brought back. We yearn for their presence to return to our lives.

But how do you grieve for yourself — your very own essence?

In my first years at Goshen College, I began to explore who I was, and I wanted to blossom into my new role as an adult. 

During that time, I was secure in who I was and what I wanted for my life. Isis was certain she was destined for greatness. I bought myself what I wanted, took myself out to restaurants and sat in solitude, fulfilled by my own company and thoughts. 

I knew myself. I loved myself.

My junior year, I experienced my first relationship. At first, it was all too good to be true, and I was certain that this was what I was missing in my life. 

The highs in the relationship made me feel, as Rihanna said, like the only girl in the world. I felt beautiful, I felt worthy, I felt seen. Everything I desired was right in front of me. Someone was emphasizing the fact that I was worthy. 

But as always, little by little, the relationship went from the best time of my life to me questioning my own sanity. The flip of a switch. 

What had once felt easy to attain slowly started making me feel inferior: why can’t I feel worthy of being seen, why am I not feeling enough? Was I being selfish? Am I doing too much? Should I back off? 

All these questions kept me in a state of perplexity. 

Needless to say, I spent some of the most horrific months trapped in that relationship, and because of the relationship, I ended up losing more of myself than I thought I ever would. 

I no longer cared if I had eaten that day or wore my best outfit. My opinions on my outward appearance weren’t as valuable anymore. I wanted him to care for me as I cared for him. 

Even my own presence was not satisfying enough anymore. 

The insecurity of who I was slowly crept into me, flooding my eyes with tears whenever I saw loving relationships because that’s all I ever wanted. No longer was I going to open up and be a person filled with love to give. That integral part within me was broken, and I didn’t want to sit and remember her. 

The days passed and I was still hung on the fact that I didn’t know who I was anymore. Everyday living was just a reminder that even I had given up on myself. I didn’t notice it, but being in a relationship where I poured out more of myself than was ever reciprocated caused me to lose myself, and slowly I attached my self-worth and value to the opinions and mistreatment of one person. 

At times, we become attached to the love of a person and start to believe that it’s the only thing worthy of making us feel whole. But once it’s taken from us, we are left with nothing.

This is not a piece telling you to never be vulnerable ever again, rather, to let you understand that whether you’re in a relationship, situationship or whatever it may be, recognize that whether or not that person stays with you, you are still whole. 

You are everything you were meant to be and even more. You should never seek the approval of others and diminish yourself to fit someone else in your life. Keep falling in love with yourself, and yes, I know it sounds cheesy, but as my mother always said, “mejor sola que mal acompañada.”

Find yourself again.