Sincerely, Spanglish Chapter 1: Dearly Departed


Leaving the country for three months felt a lot like what I imagine watching your own funeral would feel like. People you didn’t even know cared about you were suddenly sending you their best wishes and talking about how they wished they’d had more time with you.

Goodbyes were something I’d become all too familiar with and something I did my best to avoid. I’d spent my last night in SLO like I’d spend any other Tuesday, eating tacos and singing karaoke at the bars. This comfortable act of routine and social drinking made avoiding emotions easy. I picked my exit carefully, hugging my sorority sisters briefly in their distracted state, and leaving quickly. I stood on a curb in cold night air contemplating my next step. There was a call I shouldn’t answer, but I thought maybe I might.

My mind was pulled away from this call by the ringing of another one, and I found myself unexpectedly in an all too familiar environment with all too familiar friends who’d seen far too much of me in the last two years. These friends were, namely, the hooligans I affectionately and adoringly referred to as the “T4 Boys.” I’d managed to keep all my goodbyes short, sweet, and emotionless, and I thought these ones would be the same.

I almost escaped unscathed.

Hugs, fist bumps, and whiskey shots were my safe route. Guy friends were easy; they didn’t do emotional goodbyes. I made my way towards the door ready to endure what I thought would be one of my harder goodbyes when I heard two voices call me back.

“Rachel, wait!” Two of the boys came running out and sandwiched me between them. “We love you. You’re always going to be family. We’re going to miss you. And don’t worry, things will work out while you’re gone.” It was one of those rare moments in life I was speechless, so I repeated choked ‘thank you’s’ and ‘I love you, too’s.’

And for a moment, even when everything else in my life was about to change (and had already), for just an instant in this drunken exchange, it felt like nothing had.

I don’t know what it was about this goodbye that got to me. Maybe it was the fact that a crucial member of this little family we had formed freshman year was missing. Maybe it was the fact that these boys had been through more of my college chaos with me than anyone else. Or, maybe it was just the whiskey. Either way, when I got in the car to say my final SLO goodbye, I was sobbing.

“I hadn’t planned on missing anyone,” I sputtered between sobs.

“I know,” he said, wiping tears from my cheek. My mascara cascaded in little black trails down my cheeks and onto his white t-shirt as I attempted to regain the composure I’d managed to fake so well up until this point. I had to return to comfortably numb, because the gut-wrenching reality of everyone I loved living without me for three months was exactly the sinking feeling I’d been trying to avoid, yet here we were.

The same subconscious thought that had tried to plague me in the many months leading up to this day whispered in my ear once more: What if they all move on without me? What if I come back and I don’t matter to them anymore?

I’d been reminded by numerous parties for numerous reasons that “a lot can happen in three months.” Some used this phrase to remind me how I might change as a person in the coming months. Others, in two separate cases, had used this to refer to romances that may or may not exist upon my return. One of them no longer existed, anyway.

Romantic intentions or naught, it was true; three months was a lot of time.

“I expected this tonight,” he whispered, stroking my hair and pulling me into a fresh t-shirt.


“I just did. I knew it was coming. You’d been holding it together too well. I know you.”

At two in the morning, I stopped crying. At four in the morning, I decided I needed to leave. Right then, at that moment. I started throwing clothes into my suitcase, trying to rebuild some emotional distance.

“You’re sure you need to leave now?” He asked.

“Yea. I just have to go. I just have to go.”

“I know.”


He knew not to push it.

At five in the morning, suitcases in the trunk, gas tank full, I was ready to go home. I had one more goodbye.

We live in this generation of incomplete romances. People you sleep with, but don’t love. People you love, but don’t sleep with. And then, there is some expansive spectrum of everything in between from friends with benefits to…whatever the hell was happening here.

The ambiguity made it easy to rationalize. I told myself it was just this thing between friends that had happened that may or may not exist when I got back. Simple. Temporary. Right? I convinced myself it was. A hug, a kiss, an appraisal from heavily lidded eyes equally as exhausted as mine: the last goodbye.

“Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Just checking you out.”

And I convinced myself I would not miss him.

The next day was mostly sleeping, catching up from what had easily been a quarter’s worth of partying forced into three short weeks. My last day in the United States was filled with family, food, and goodbyes I’d already done before. My family was already used to me leaving. This part was easy.

I maintained my emotional vacancy all the way to the security checkpoint, where I hugged my mother goodbye and tried to keep it as brief and casual as possible, if not for her benefit, than for mine. I knew eventually the brick wall of apathy I’d constructed around these goodbyes would crumble and crush me, but that was tomorrow’s problem. Or maybe Wednesday’s.


By 8:45am, Friday morning, I was in the air on my way to Miami.

Now for someone as brash and forward as I am, I am obnoxiously polite to strangers. This meant a morning full of overzealous “excuse me” and “pardon me” as I made my way to my seat on the first leg of my flight. The flight itself was relatively uneventful, though I took the last open space in the overhead bins on my crowded flight and felt like an asshole.

I arrived in Miami at two in the afternoon Pacific Time, which meant five in the evening Miami time. My connecting flight was scheduled to leave at 8pm but, due to “technical difficulties” and one missing captain, did not depart until 12:30 in the morning.

So here I sat, sleep deprived, contemplative, and immensely thirsty. I didn’t have the balls to ask the flight attendant for another water bottle, nor did I have the superhuman ability to sleep on airplanes, so my head cocked mindlessly against the window watching the Boeing 777 chase the dawn.

There was something eerily reflective about racing the sun. We flew in dark indigo skies, high above the clouds, littered with nothing more than the bright lights of already dead stars. Was this what heaven looked like without humans? The looming sunrise painted a grey-blue gradient on the horizon, ending in a lighter sky blue that, I could only assume, is where day began.

To my right sat a woman that I’d barely spoken two sentences to, and yet I deem her worthy to write about because after a seven hour layover, she still had endless smiles and warmth to offer the strung out looking college student formerly known as me.

My mind attempted to swim in thoughts my body had become too tired to comprehend, so I sat in an uneasy static. My spine ached with the twists and turns of failure in trying to find a comfortable position to rest in. The clock said we had about four hours until landing. With no WiFi, a nearly dead iPod, and no hope of sleep, I allowed my mind to wander…

It wandered to stray songs that had lost their way and become stuck in my head. It wandered to thoughts of the coming day ahead. What would I do first? Sleep, the exhausted breath inside my head whispered. I brushed it aside and forced myself to think logistically: taxi to the hotel, check-in, settle, gym at some point (if for no other reason than to pretend I wasn’t about to gain 10 pounds indulging in Spanish wine and tortillas for three months)…but yes, I conceded to the voice in my head, sleep, too. Soon.

And whether my mind merely went blank or I finally succeeded in sleeping, the hustle of people around me brought me back to attention.

           Hola, por favor quedarse en sus asientos hasta que el avión ha parado completamente.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Madrid.

Sincerely, Spanglish: Introduction

It had been one of the first things I knew about college.

“You’ll have to go abroad,” my mom had said, “I never went, and I regret it daily.”

With this impending expectation, leaving the country for 3-4 months for the pursuit of education and cultural expansion was as mandatory as lackluster GE classes. I had scheduled it into my academic career since my inception, penciled in for fall quarter of my junior year because, well, I don’t know. Just because.

That time was now.

Given my Spanish minor and my obsession with the culture, Spain had been an obvious choice. Cal Poly Global had been a less obvious choice, but still an easy one. All my units were directly transferrable, I’d be on a quarter system, which meant I could stay in SLO for WOW Week, and we would be living in a city little known to tourists and the pollution of American culture. We were told almost no one spoke English and we’d be intensely and adequately immersed. It was ideal.

As the news came out, and even more so as my departure approached, people asked me how I felt. Was I excited? Was I nervous? Did I think I’d fall in love with a Spanish man? My simple response:

“I don’t know, I haven’t thought about it.”

This was true. I’d given little to no thought to the three-month excursion from everything familiar I was about to embark on. I’d done little to no research, and had done absolutely minimal studying for the expansive map test I would have to take upon my arrival (though in my defense, minimal studying happens on my part regardless of where I am).

In fleeting moments, I would feel something. Panic, in one instant, when I realized that if for some reason I loathed this experience I was still trapped in it for three months. Excitement, in others, when I realized that I would be completely anonymous halfway around the world from all the chaos that seemed to cling to my skin like a scent I couldn’t shake despite my best efforts.

Spain didn’t excite me so much as escape did. At one point in my life, I had been a pillar. I had been a source of consistency and strength for people who had needed me. Now, with no attachments, no responsibilities, and a clear conscience, I’d become flighty. I lived in a state of restlessness, a permanent craving for stimulation, for something that made me feel…anything really. So leaving the country in the throes of not only political and moral chaos, but also in the midst of my own personal and romantic chaos was not only perfect, it felt mandatory for my very sanity. Because if you’re going to run from your problems, why not do it in a beautiful country, surrounded by strangers and paella?

The next bombardment of questions came in the form of: how will you communicate with us? Personally, I’d be content disappearing for three months and going of the grid entirely. Those who loved me were not as fond of the idea.

Family requested emails, my mother requested limitless pictures—knowing fair well that the request would be ignored; I had never been a huge picture person. I would have to document my trip in some way, if not for the benefit of my dear mother than possibly for sheer reflection later in life when things had become even duller than they already were.

Then, as fate or some other entity would have it, an email found its way to my inbox. A representative from a website I’d read frequently sought a team of 15-25 personally selected writers to cultivate and grow their skills in a group setting. I imagine it was the equivalent for young writers on this site of something we used to have in school called LEAP or GATE.

It then occurred to me, if I was to be writing weekly articles anyways, why not selfishly, conceitedly, and completely conveniently make them all about me and my foreign existential crisis?

And so dear readers, random Facebook companions, my supervisor, and my mother: as I embark on this journey that will supposedly “change my life,” I invite you to follow me week-by-week as I document it the only way I seem to know how: writing.

Everyone Shut the Fuck Up For a Second

I hear a lot of talking.

Whether it be in the form of Facebook posts, Twittering, bar fights, or baseball caps with slogans printed on them. Everyone has a gigantic stick up their ass, a big ego, and a loud mouth, paired with an audacity to ask, “where did we go wrong?”

I’ve done my part to stay out of politics. Not because I am uneducated, uninterested, or unmotivated. But staying out, staying away from the news (despite being a Journalism major), and staying un-opinionated (on politics, not life) has given me something I feel a lot of you “LOOK AT ME, I KNOW THINGS” people seem to lack: perspective.

My mother has never been one for strong political views. My father probably was, but he dropped dead before I could hit puberty and give a shit, so I’ve grown up in what we’ll call a rather uninfluenced environment.

I’ve been born and raised in the Bay, where diversity runs rampant, but spent my “politically formative” years of college in what seems to be the rich-white person capital of the world. I talk a lot, I think a lot, but underneath all the bells & whistles of my exuberant personality…I’ve been watching. I’ve been listening.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. Americans truly think social media matters. Okay, partially yes. It has become a platform for communication, education, connection, etc. Believe me, I get a nice little ego-boost when I tweet something sassy and gain publicity from it as well. But it seems like social media has become the end-all-be-all not only for politics, but for society. Like ISIS is going to see you changing your profile picture to a flag and be like, “Oh yea. That’s the one. That’s the profile picture that shows me what I did was wrong, and I will stop now.” I mean honestly, people seem to be more focused on Instagram likes and YouTube subscribers than, I dunno, maybe being half way decent? Than maybe actually getting involved? Actually donating? Actually thinking of solutions? What?Here’s a thought: maybe aim to have as many educational, well-processed thoughts as you do likes on your “finsta,” so you can add something to this society you claim to care about other than good contour and fake thigh gaps.
  2. There has become a beautification of mental illness. Yippy skippy, let’s all accept ourselves. WAHOO! It’s cool that mental illness is becoming more talked about, really. I remember being a little girl and being told I could NOT talk about my dad’s alcoholism because it was taboo. It was shameful. It was something those outside the family could never know…and that sucked. It sucked because I needed help and support and I was told not to talk about it. But I swear to fucking God, if I have to see one more BuzzFeed or Odyssey or whatever article about “10 Ways to Love Someone with Anxiety” or “5 Ways to Talk to Someone With Depression,” I am going to fucking lose it. Here’s a secret: those of us who are ACTUALLY fucked up, don’t think it’s great. In fact, we spend the entirety of our lives trying to get UN-fucked up. You’ll never see me posting “7 Ways to Be Friends With the Girl With a Dead Dad” because I don’t give a fuck. My shit is my shit. My issues are my issues. Do we need to educate people on mental illness? Yes. Is it good that it’s something being talked about? Yes. But it is NOT something you take a cute lil quiz about on Thought Catalog. It is NOT something that everyone around you should have to change their lives for YOUR comfort. YOUR shit is YOUR shit. YOU handle it. Asking everyone to baby you and say special words to make you feel safe isn’t going to help you, I promise. The best way to combat mental illness is to sack up, and keep going. The world does not stop spinning merely because you’re in pain. Tough pill, I know. Swallow it.
  3. What the fuck happened to basic manners? People. Seriously. Please and thank you. Like, if the two syllables in “thank you” are too much time for you to take out of your day, I have good news! It can be shortened to “thanks!” It’s not that hard. It just baffles me, because I’m a total asshole. Like, a full blown, no filter, very little sympathy asshole, and I still manage to find it in my cold little heart to FUCKING SAY PLEASE AND THANK YOU. And to smile at strangers. And say excuse me. And to not mean-mug every other girl I see, like god damn. All you have to do is be halfway decent to other people. HALF. NOT EVEN FULL, HALF. CIVIL. POLITE. HALF. It’s really too much energy to be (and teach your kids to be) HALFWAY DECENT?
  4. Everyone thinks they’re right, and you all sound the same amount of stupid. You. Yes, you. Sharing your conspiracy theories and “NowThis” clips on Facebook. You look just as stupid an uneducated as the side you are so vehemently against. Creating circular arguments on Facebook is never educational, only entertaining. And why? For the same reason “fail” videos, spoof cartoons, and “Impractical Jokers” are popular: people like to see other people look like idiots. So while you think you’re the next SJW with your 8 page long Facebook attack on *insert candidate or policy here,* the only attention you’re getting are those arguing against you, and those laughing at you.

The wrap-up: You probably read this thinking it would be about Trump or Hillary. Wrong. Like I said before, I don’t keep up with the nitty gritty of politics, I keep up with the nitty-gritty of people. Back to when I called you all audacious, asking “where did we go wrong?” The answer, to me at least, is plain as day. We need merely to be halfway decent to one another, create a community again, and it’s just that simple. You cannot advocate peace, and then engage in unbacked political arguments on Facebook. You cannot be against Trump’s racist policies, and then exhibit racism in your own life. Look in the damn mirror, and change YOUR life instead of expending energy yelling at everyone who disagrees with you.  We are headed for a boat load of shit. Like, shit is about to go down. And when that time comes, we are going to need decent, open-minded people way more than we will ever need Instagram models and Facebook fights. There IS an “us” and a “them,” but it is not “Hillary” and “Trump.” It is not “African Americans” and “police officers.” It is those who will fight, love, and support when the time comes, and those who are going to be part of the problem. Choose your side.

Loyalty: Worthy Of A Blowjob

My Fellow Peers,

Once again, you have pissed me the fuck off. Only this time, it’s about your relationship standards. Now, obviously this doesn’t apply to all people my age, and can even apply to some outside our generation. But my middle finger is pointed at you.


Because I just read something on Twitter that suggested a man deserves a congratulatory blowjob for being LOYAL TO HIS GIRLFRIEND.

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I’m sorry, what? You deserve a prize for literally meeting THE MINIMUM STANDARD OF A RELATIONSHIP?!

All the gifts, dates, dinner, sexual favors are extra. Sure. If your man shows up with flowers or does some other sweet extra shit, or even if you’re just feeling friendly, go for it. Give out those BJs like you’re god damn Oprah.

You can even be like, hey. I am grateful and appreciative of how well you treat me. Allow me to gift you with oral sex. Fine.


That’s the same as being like, “wow babe, you didn’t punch me in the face today! You’re such a keeper! Here’s some sex!”


(Side note: does not apply to fuckbuddy/FWB relationships. Those are lawless, open-field battle zones. Enter with caution. There are no rules.)

  2. RESPECT. Like, not calling your significant other derogatory terms in a serious way or hitting them or making them have sex with you against their will. Dating does not equate a free-for-all vagina buffet NOR does it equate some unspoken “I can say whatever I want about/to you because we’re in a relationship” clause. If you do not respect the person you are dating…just WHY?! WHY.
  3. THE BROKEN TV METAPHOR: Why do you people lead me to preach like I’m fucking 80 when I am 19. Allow me to get into character *clears throat* Baaaaack in my day, when something was broken, you fixed it. You didn’t run out an buy a new one. You worked hard, and you fixed it.

    HERE’S A PSA, KIDS: RELATIONSHIPS ARE WORK. LOYALTY IS WORK. COMMITMENT IS WORK. It’s not easy. It’s not always pretty. It’s not always the “honeymoon stage” where your partner shits rainbows and the sex is great and everything is hunky-dory. LOYALTY+RESPECT+WORK+COMMUNICATION= BASICS OF A RELATIONSHIP


Poem: To Those Who Love Us

To those who love us

To those we pushed away with our coy attitudes and snarky words when you attempted to shower us with warmth and kindness in yours

To those who spent endless nights banging on the walls we’ve built around ourselves, knuckles bloodied and hearts still hopeful, only to be met with silence

To those who sat up wondering why the loyalty, understanding, and reassurance were not enough

To those who listened to us croon about that hammers that shattered our glass hearts, and then watched us seek out, once again, sinners of the same vein

To those who looked in the mirror and wondered what was missing, what wasn’t enough

To those who have been in love with the broken, the mistrustful, the damaged, and the confused

To those who shake us daily, taping the image they have of us onto our eyes, constantly enraged and confounded as to why we can’t ourselves the way that you do

To those who think the only side of the moon that exists is the side that shines amongst the stars, and have the naiveté to believe that light shines in all of us

To those who saw the good in us when we failed to see it in ourselves, and still leave unlocked all the doors we’ve slammed in your face

It was never you, it was always us

You go unloved, but not unnoticed.

A Standardized Test Told Me I Can’t Write, So I Should Probably Strip

When coming to Cal Poly I, like all the other incoming freshmen, had to choose to my major upfront. After an emotionally scarring experience with Pre-Calculus, it had become clear to me that mathematics was not my strong suit, so Engineering and anything of that sort was out.

I loved science, but science also involved a lot of math, and I just wasn’t about that life. My next thought was psychology, but I’m hopelessly addicted to the broken already, so me in a psych major would probably lead to me in a psych ward.

So I landed on Journalism. Writing, being aggressive, asking questions; it seemed perfect. For a while, it was. I even had major success with one of my articles. It’s been translated into two languages (German, Spanish), re-published a multitude of times on various sites and in independent magazines, gotten me several job offers, and even my own meme on Reddit.

I had people telling me to keep writing, to never stop, that I had a true talent, and then…

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Self. Worth. Shattered. I didn’t fit in the box. The random people assigned to grade my hastily written, 9am word vomit on “college grading” just didn’t think I was worth much. So consider this my official resignation from writing. If a standardized test tells me I have no talent, it’s probably right.

Forget all the words of encouragement and positive reinforcement. This 2-hour test defines me more than my accomplishments ever will. Like the SAT, I am not a human being without a number attached to me. That’s actually what I wrote the essay on…probably why they didn’t like it. Why am I such a fuck-up, MY GOD?!

So for all of you who enjoyed my writing, thought I was kind of witty, and maybe even thought I had a future, I am sorry. But like always, a test has chosen my future for me, and it has chosen stripping…or maybe drugs…or maybe I can be the homeless woman who screams at the walls outside of Dickey’s.

Just remember, kids: it doesn’t matter what you’re good at if that little piece of paper tells you you’re a fuck up. And for those of you who have talents that don’t involve books and calculators? I’m talking about the musicians, artists, mechanics, and the like…there’s no test for you, so obviously you mean nothing. The world can survive without music, art, culinary skills, and someone to fix the car, you damn peasants.

Because these tests, these scantrons, and these half-assed essays you write to prove you belong at a school you already got into once…they are who you truly are. And if you can’t memorize and regurgitate information in a way the system teaching it sees fit, who are you really? What could you possibly give society? The cure for cancer? Nutella? Dope ass rap music? HA. NO ONE LIKES THAT SHIT ANYWAYS.

So thank you, Cal Poly, for confirming that my only genuine talent is being able to take tequila shots straight, no chase. You were right, I can’t write anyways. 🙂

Relationships: What You Want vs. What You Deserve

You’d never guess from my constant swearing and distant attitude that I’m a hopeless romantic. But alas, it’s true. In a world of relationships defined by Woman Crush Wednesdays and #RelationshipGoals, I’m still the girl who will hand write you a love letter or make you a mixtape to let you know you’re exactly who I want.

I don’t fall often. I think I’ve been seriously in love once in my life, and almost gotten there once or twice. But I crush often. And from these brief but meaningful infatuations, I’ve not only learned some things, but I’ve witnessed some things as well.

There seems to be a painful and annoying distinction between what we seek in relationships today, and what we deserve: a never-ending fight between what we want and what we need. And it plagues me daily, especially as of late, so I’m going to write about it.


The Chase vs. Stability 

This is my greatest downfall. I am constantly infatuated with guys who do not know I exist (shout out to my gym husband who I stare at but never talk to, hey what’s your name?). Guys who throw themselves at me bore me. I love the adrenaline of a guy who could be here today gone tomorrow.

But this is a never-ending loop, especially if you get involved with someone who is exactly the same way.There’s a saying that, while true, is pretty messed up. It says, “power in a relationship lies with whomever cares less.” But I beg the question: what’s the point of a relationship if your goal will always be to care less? Make it a goal to feel safe, to feel cherished, and to feel wanted. Not to feel like a human game of Risk.

Talking Every Day vs. Meaningful Conversations

Who remembers the days of constantly-looping conversations with your crush?

“hey. who do u lyk?”

“cnt tell u lol”

“yes u can”

“ok u”

“o. I lyk u 2 lol”

Aaaand that was about it. Unless your person-in-question is Superman or something, their life isn’t going to change much between when you texted them “What are you doing?” at 3:05pm and when you text them “What are you doing?” at 3:15pm.

You don’t have to talk to someone every second of every day to let them know you care about them. This is still a hard one for me to grasp, because I’m a needy little bitch who loves attention and loves, loves, loves knowing that someone is thinking about me. But talking to someone loses value when the conversation does, and then you show up in person with nothing to say. Aim for quality over quantity.

What You Want to Hear vs. Honesty

It’s hard to hurt someone’s feelings, especially when you’re into them. But there is something to be said for someone who isn’t afraid to cuss you out every once in a while. I’m not talking about someone who criticizes your every accident or publishes your every mistake. But I’m talking about someone who isn’t afraid to tell you off or call you out when you’re really fucking up.

I’m guilty of over apologizing in a relationship until I get really, really, comfortable with the person. I’ll say sorry and take the blame just because I absolutely hate fighting and I want to get back to cuddling already. But sometimes, the person you love is going to fuck up, and they deserve to know that. Otherwise, when you leave because you’ve finally had enough of their shit, they won’t know what they did wrong in the first place. Honesty gives people a chance to fix mistakes they didn’t know they were making.

Words vs. Actions

There’s something comforting about someone saying they’ll be there for you, or love you forever, or that you’re what they want. But I’ve lived a life full of empty promises and, honestly, words don’t mean shit to me anymore.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but when I want somebody, I do NOT stop until I get them. Period. And that’s how it should be. I do not believe in “timing” or distance or fate or whatever. I dated a boy who lived in Miami for seven months. I chased after my high school sweetheart while he was blatantly banging someone else for about a year. When you care about someone, and/or when someone cares about you, there is nothing that should be able to stand in your way: time, distance, circumstance, whatever. If someone wants you, they will fight for you, and if they aren’t fighting for you, it’s time to let them go.

Lust vs. Love

Be careful of this one. I feel like often we are falling into relationships because of ease and comfort, or maybe just really good sex. We stick with what we know, or we choose the person who has always been there for us because we feel like we owe it to them. You do not owe anyone anything.

Choose the person you love based on who makes you feel like the best version of yourself, based on who makes you feel beautiful, and based on who you truly want to be with. Do not choose them based on what you feel you owe them, who they pretend to be, or because you worry no one else will put up with your shit.

In conclusion…

I know our generation is fifty shades of fucked up (haha) when it comes to relationships. We are scared, we’ve been hurt, and we are tentative to fight for what we deserve because we don’t believe we deserve it. But we do.

Seek a love worth fighting for, not worth settling for.