Meet Koa, My Heart

Over the years, I think that just about everyone has had their heart broken a few times. On my first day of my freshman year of high school, my (slightly kooky, may I add) English teacher gave us some rather dull advice. “You’re gonna get your heart broken many times, whether it’s by another person who doesn’t reciprocate your feelings, or by a dream you can no longer dream.” This lady had been teaching honors freshman English for double our life spans, so I thought to myself, ‘she has clearly lost a few marbles and seen too many soap operas over the years, I’ll be fine.’ But, let me tell you that I was not always fine, and she was absolutely correct.

As you grow older, you realize that you’re not invincible; there are some limits in the picture. It is all in what you weave between the confined spaces of these barriers that will define your experiences. Unfortunately, I did not come out of the womb knowing this. I got my heart broken by a boy, as was expected. I got my heart broken by this boy more than once, and I’m not exactly proud of how I handled myself through it. I lost friends. I was lied to. I was talked about behind my back. I even did some of the lying and behind-back talking too. I fluctuated through different friend groups. I was utterly devastated when I got my first rejection letter from a college. I got my expectations shattered when I realized that I couldn’t handle a full AP and honors course load. I told myself I would get all A’s and, as hard as I tried, I didn’t. I got a D in Pre-Calculus and I cried about it. Little miss varsity speech team co-captain, saxophone extraordinaire, perfect grades, with a jock boyfriend, lots of friends, and tiny clothes was, in fact, miserable. I was crushed by the fact that I couldn’t do it all and be perfect at it all.

Eventually, I overcame all of those things. They made me into a stronger individual, and a more confident woman. I now know my limits, and I understand that perfection is unattainable. I will never again let someone talk down to me or be unfaithful to me. I’ve learned those lessons.

What all of these downfalls had in common were that they were expected. These rough patches were what I thought were going to be in store for me during the first four, truly developmental, years of my adult life. With less than a month left of my senior year, I thought I knew what I was doing; that I had done my time with high school drama and had learned all of the necessary lessons that I would need to take with me to college in my back pocket. Once again, I was proven wrong.

The human heart is such a funny, yet resilient thing. Each heart must learn to bounce back from a series of situations that no other heart in the universe has ever experienced identically before. No one fully knows what they are doing. Anyone who thinks that they do is wrong. This last sentence is directed towards my past self, about a month before the end of senior year. I wish she could have read it and been a little more prepared for the hell that she was about to be put through. I wish she could have read this and gone into it all with a more humble mindset. No one ever fully knows what they are doing.

My oh-so human heart was broken yet again. But, this time, it wasn’t by a blonde-haired boy, or a rejection letter; it was by my best friend; someone who I believed to be my soulmate in a friend. Needless to say, I no longer believe in soulmates. You think you know somebody completely. You think that you know your way around their mind and their soul. No one ever fully knows what they are doing.

It isn’t necessary to go into specifics as to what happened and how it did. That’s a story for another day, but probably a day in many, many years. What matters here is that my poor little heart was broken once again. I decided to name my heart, since I spend so much time in contact with it. I chose the name Koa. Koa is Hawaiian for warrior, and no other word best describes that beating organ in my chest that rises again and again from each and every battle full of wounds. Koa is now the name of my heart.

Koa was tired. It had been a long, exhausting four years full of blood, sweat, and tears. My heart no longer knew how to react to loss; it began to feel eerily too common. On the morning of my graduation day, I couldn’t help but reflect on the series of unfortunate events that had occurred that past month. I had built a relationship with someone for three years, trusting them, and opening myself to them in a way that I had never with anyone else before. In my mind, it was a relationship more intimate than any romantic one I had ever been in. It was a sacred exposure of every part of my heart to another human being who could easily damage it, but I trusted not to. Putting out your bare, naked heart is much, much harder than exposing any part of your body. I made myself vulnerable to the wrong person and, undeservingly, I paid the price.

I have had a hard time coming to terms with the fact that one day someone can be an integral, large part of your life, and the next stab you straight in the heart. But I now understand how people can go from constant attachment to never speaking again. Through this pain, I have learned so many lessons in such a short span of time.

Lesson number one is that you have to have a good relationship with your own heart. Name it. Become friends with it. Take care of it with all of your might. In this life, this pretty little thing will be all that you really have. It will be put through test after test until it stops beating: it needs you to be on its side, not complicating already difficult situations. Name your heart, and be kind to it. My Koa has learned a lot with me. Each and every morning I lather on metaphorical Mederma and try to help with the healing process of all of its scars. I chose a beautiful name for a beautiful thing, and every day I learn alongside it.

Number two is that people will surprise you. People change, and often they are ignorant towards any casualties they shoot. People are not born monsters; they choose to become them. You can either forgive them, or forget them. Neither will be easy. I’ve chosen the forgetting route, but I am working on the aspect of forgiveness with Koa. I am not, by any means, there yet. I have forgiven myself for any actions I may have executed that were incorrect. But I am working on forgiving the other involved party. Not for their sake, but for my own. I am still hurting, and my wounds are still bleeding. But they are on their way to becoming scars.

Thirdly, last but not least, is that no one ever fully knows what they are doing; not a single person. Everyone, myself included, needs a daily reminder that they don’t know everything. Here is yours for today. I am almost eighteen years old. I haven’t inhabited the earth for even two decades. The time I have spent on this earth is simply the blink of an eye compared to its entire timeline. I have so much to learn, but I have begun my collection of knowledge, and I choose to cultivate and display it into a museum through my work, like this piece. But I will die not fully knowing what I’m doing. So will everybody else. All that we can do, is try our best to figure out whatever we find that we need to.

As sung by the brilliantly poetic Ingrid Michaelson, “All the broken hearts in the world still beat. Let’s not make it harder than it has to be.” We’re all lost in one way or another, or, hell, many more ways than one. But we must evaluate what really even matters to us in the grand scheme of a masterpiece that is our existence. We must love and nurture our hearts, while keeping in mind that the process will require change. Some people, whose change coincided with the direction of yours at a certain time, will grow in a different direction than you will. All you can do is try to make sure that you are growing upward, not in a regressive, downward manner. The rest is all a learning process. We don’t know everything, but it is a beautiful thing to add new wings and exhibits to our galleries of knowledge.


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