Jason and I got married on Tuesday!
Yep, after almost seven years together, we decided to make it “offish” as the kids say with an intimate ceremony at our favorite cliffside spot here in San Diego. Thankfully there was very little stress, very little to plan and we were able to devote our full energy and attention to the joy of deepening our commitment together (not to mention, you can imagine there was lots of laughter!)
I’d love to share more specifically about why we opted for a non-traditional wedding (aka. no engagement, just the two of us, etc.), but as I was reflecting back on the history of our relationship last week, it occurred to me that I’ve never fully shared just how unlikely it was that Jason and I got together. That’s partly because this story feels intimately personal to me, but also because I never really saw how divulging it might serve to help others.
With hindsight, I can now see just how pivotal the beginning of our love story was in defining the unfolding of my life. Within it lies a fundamental lesson I feel is worth sharing, which is why I’ve finally decided to dig into it today.
So cozy up! Let's get personal!
When Jason and I met, I was 21 years old, only a few weeks away from graduating college. We actually met because I booked him to come speak to UF’s Ad Society, a student advertising club I was running at the time. Leading up to his speaking engagement (he Skyped in to give a talk on creativity to our group), we hit it off right away, trading sarcastic spars and picking up on each other's left-field references without missing a beat. He was funny and creative and completely sure of himself, and when we finally met in person, there was this hard-to-describe ease that existed between us, like we had already known each other for years.
The only problem with this tiny spark I felt deep in my gut? I was already in a relationship at the time. 😬😬😬 A happy one, at that. To make matters even more complicated, Jason was in a relationship too, one that was going on three years, with mine going on for over a year. To top it off, my boyfriend at the time was enrolled in law school in North Carolina and I’d accepted a job in a nearby city in order to be closer to him after graduation.
I convinced myself that the indescribable feeling I was having was just a kindred-spirit friendship with Jason. Nothing more. I buried the truth and I continued planning out the beginning of my post-college adult life, taking comfort in whatever control I had during such an uncertain time in my life.
As the weeks wore on, though, and this new chapter edged closer, the gravity of this fork in the road began to dawn on me. I had a sense that whatever choices I made about my future after graduating would lead me to very different outcomes, which forced me to confront my REAL feelings for Jason.
That’s when my dilemma really hit me. I had a choice:
Be true to my feelings, end my current relationship, hurt someone I cared about deeply and take a complete left turn from the adult life I was planning for myself?
Choose not to rock the boat, deny my feelings because the fallout from my decision would be just too much to handle, and stick to the plan.
I distinctly remember confiding in a close friend for the first time at a Starbucks, tears in my eyes as I admitted how torn my heart was. It felt like such a lose/lose situation: listen to my heart and hurt so many people around me (including, it felt like, both of our families who were friends and invested in our relationship) or deny my feelings and experience the guilt of knowing I wasn't all-in on my current relationship. (Plus, of course, the potential regret of never seeing where the magic between Jason and I could lead.)
My friend, trying to offer me advice the best way she knew how, said: "I think you shouldn't make any rash decisions. You should move to North Carolina and see if you feel differently once you're there."
I’ll never forget the feeling I had in response.
As soon as the words left her lips, I felt my stomach sink. It's as if in that moment I experienced the full guilt of what it would mean to continue on a path that I knew was no longer what I fully wanted. I don't think I've ever heard my intuition speak as loudly or as clearly as it did in that moment.
I refuse to live a lie.
That’s what my intuition was shouting, loud and clear, so that my brain could understand it.
Once I allowed myself to see the truth -- that I DID want to understand what that magical feeling could lead to-- I knew what I had to do.
I broke up with my boyfriend the next day. It is still one of the hardest things I've ever done.
Knowing in your gut what is right and then acting on that knowing are two very different things.
The fallout was in fact exactly as complicated and messy as I thought it would be. Trying to explain to my parents what the heck I was thinking; the realization that I was about to start a career in the same city as my now ex-boyfriend, states away from Jason; untangling our lives and erasing the plans I’d made while simultaneously trying to build a foundation for a new relationship, without even really understanding why I’d blown up my life for “this feeling” I had.
At times the odds seemed stacked so highly against us that I started to believe the look on everyone’s faces and wonder myself if I was crazy. Was I being too impulsive? Was I having a quarter-life crisis? Was I wrong for betting all my chips on a feeling I couldn’t explain?
Still, that voice in my gut was whispering: You know this magic exists now. You can't un-feel that or pretend it's not real.
It felt different. Full of potential. There was an ease to the way I felt around Jason, like I wasn’t trying to BE something for him… I was only myself.
Now, quick caveat: I don’t mean to overly romanticize the whole situation. You can’t build a life together on just one feeling or one spark. Those early months (and honestly, first few years) were a huge challenge, turning this gamble of ours into something sturdy and real.
Those first six months of long distance dating in the wake of our bold move was rocky territory. We both felt guilt, and excitement, and fear, and hope. It was messy.
All the while, though, I kept coming back to my core compass, promising that if it made its will known to me, I’d muster the courage to act on it.
And that was almost seven years ago.
Now, I obviously don’t know what would have happened if I’d have made a different choice back then. But what I DO know is that choosing the riskier, truer thing at that fork in the road has only turned into a snowball of other risky-but-true decisions, which has now led me to an authentic life I love with a person I believe to be the right partner for me.
Here’s what I hope you’ll take away from this story, as a lesson that applies not just to love but really to anything in life.
When faced with this kind of dilemma, ask yourself one question.
What will I regret more, rocking the wrong boat or missing the right one?
I knew I would regret missing the boat when it came to Jason.
And that doesn’t mean it was guaranteed to work out. Even if I would have run into a dead end in our relationship I KNEW it was more important to me to follow the pull of my heart and deal with the consequences of rocking the boat, especially once I realized it wasn’t a boat that was right for me anymore.
For as many challenges as our love story has presented, it’s worth well more in terms of the joy it’s brought to me. I can only imagine how many more evolutions and changes it will undergo throughout our lifetime together, but I welcome that journey.
Take a few seconds today to close your eyes and tap into your core. Where’s it pulling you? What hard decisions might you have to make in order to take action on where you know it’s leading you? And… the most important question… will you regret missing the opportunity waiting for you on the other side of those hard decisions?
Thanks for all the well wishes last week and the warm congratulations from so many of you on social media. We definitely felt deeply committed to each other regardless of getting legally married, but I do have to say that making it official and having one day done our way to celebrate that commitment was a joyful experience that I’ll never forget.