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When I first saw you, you were nothing more than a stranger in the crowd . . . kind of like what you are to me now. You told me that when you first saw me, I stood out. I wonder if you’d even acknowledge me today. You told me what you wanted with me, something real, and that differed from what you had wanted in the past. I wanted to think that with me, it was different. I wasn’t like your other hook ups. I thought that I had changed you from your old ways, and for a while, I think I actually did. 

The naivety of our young love quickly transcended into a serious relationship where I foolishly thought I had found my soulmate. When we were together, I felt as if life was perfect. You were fun and exciting and the first person to ever show me attention and call me beautiful. We had fights like any normal couple, but the fights were quick to fade from my memory. When I looked back, only the happy memories remain. That denial and lack of clarity made reality even harder to handle when someone finally started throwing stones at my glass castle. 

The saddest part of the “story of us” is that I knew I would never break up with you on my own. You could have gotten away with cheating on me forever, (and I let it slide for an alarmingly long time) and I would have been too scared to be without you to leave you. You were such a staple of my early college experience; almost everyone that I met, I met through you. My identity at Princeton was an offshoot of you. You defined me. It was the bravery that I found within my friends that reminded me of my worth and value in conjunction with the shame that I felt given that so many people knew about your infidelity that finally compelled me to suck the poison out of my life. I left you. 

In this new chapter of my life, I find humor in your malice. The breakup was messy. The way you decided to process my actions and negate your missteps has just made it easier for me to realize how low I set my own standards when I decided to be with you. Now, I know what I deserve. I know anger, denial, and mudslinging are how you cope, and although I shouldn’t respect you, I can’t help but have a loving disposition towards you and a genuine hope that you find happiness and success down the road. Having you in my life taught me a lot of things. As my first love, you taught me how to love someone else. However, it wasn’t until you were long gone from my life that I was finally able to learn how to love myself. 

If it was freshman fall again and I had the chance to re-do my college experience, I would definitely still fall in love with you. Even if I knew it was going to fail, and that falling out of love would be one of the most painful and stressful experiences of my life, I would go for it. In the end, when you would inevitably hurt me, I would end up learning so much about myself and my worth. That knowledge has been so valuable and beneficial for being my best possible version of me. 

Your actions sparked my renaissance. 

Going forward, I tend to not focus on the shit you put me through. This is partially because I don’t like wasting head space on you, and also because I wouldn’t mind us being friends in the future. You wronged me, but to an extent, you love me, and we share too many friends for us to not cross paths every so often. I think I’m being too easy on you though, because like I said earlier, the bad things you did were quicker to fade than the good. And if you’re reading this, don’t let it get to you like I know it probably will. Why should you care about the opinion of just another stranger in the crowd?

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