You know when there are 10 girls on stage during a dance recital doing the exact same choreographed dance, at the exact same time, in the exact same way, but for some reason you hone in one? Taylor was that girl.
Taylor was my best friend. She was a stunningly beautiful, gorgeously well-mannered, impossibly creative, hyper-intelligent girl creature.
Her seemingly endless eyelashes extended the tops of her perfectly arched brow bones and framed electric blue eyes, and her wildly unique effervescent energy could boost the mood of an entire room filled with miserable people.
From the very moment she stepped into her first dance class at six years old, her keenly uptight French ballet instructor -- the kind of stern, old-fashioned lady who sports a no-nonsense bun that is only unraveled before the eyes of her beloved husband -- noticed she had an exceptionally unique quality about her.
Not only was Taylor a natural dancer… she had something else.
She had brilliant yet effortless star power. A natural charisma. That acute swagger the French refer to as "je ne sais quoi."
Herein lies the tricky, worrisome part about seemingly perfect Taylor: Taylor didn't love Taylor. On the contrary, she was racked with a self-hatred that cut deep into the crux of her soul.
She was self-destructive. She secretly punished herself for not living up to her self-imposed, impossible-to-reach expectations by cutting the surface of her baby soft skin with a razor blade in the shower.
It's heartbreaking to imagine someone so beautiful filled with such desire to inflict pain on herself, but she felt so far removed from herself that cutting -- seeing a trickle of blood leave her skin and feeling physical pain -- was the only thing that brought her back into her body.
Despite the teeming sea of praising lips that resided in her precious orbit, she was seeped in a bath of self-hatred.
Despite being such a perfect physical specimen who turns heads and drops jaws, every time she looked in the mirror, all she saw was an ugly villain staring back at her.
Despite being a truly kind girl, a girl with a heart of f*cking gold, a girl who attained the rare ability to soothe an anxious friend with sweet words, the girl you could count on to rescue you when you were crying and afraid at 1 am, she was forever aggressively angry at herself, feeling overwhelmingly depressed and tirelessly lonesome.
Despite being the most brilliant dancer on her high school dance team, she never felt good enough.
She barely ate. She hardly slept. And she continued to self-destruct.
Taylor kept her black depression a complete and utter secret, for when we're deeply ashamed of anything, we tuck it away within ourselves so it's stored in a place no one could dare access even if he or she vehemently tried. Not even your best friend.
We met in the dorms my freshman year of college. Maybe we both intrinsically could feel one another's quiet emptiness, or maybe we were just two teenage girls new to Southern California, but we instantly connected and cultivated a rapid-fire friendship romance.
One chilly, West Coast September evening, I took her to a party with me. There, while we were doing shots of sh*tty, cheap, plastic-bottled vodka with some older, more “experienced” boys (around the ripe old age of 22), one of them took an obvious liking to her.
I could feel fireworks exploding between them. I watched his arm make his way around her delicate shoulders and knew in that very instant that they were going to be together for a long time.
You know that strange thing that happens when two bodies fit perfectly together like a puzzle, almost like a higher power up above designed one body to perfectly fold into another?
His name was Mike, and he was that piece. They went home together that very night.
The next day, over a midday coffee at a coffee shop in which we were supposed to be "studying" for finals, Taylor's face glowed with the lure of lust and ethereal beams of new, young love. Her skin was radiant. Her eyes were sparkling. She was gushing about Mike.
She loved the way he smelled, she said. She couldn't get enough of the way his body tasted in her mouth. Her slim fingers fit perfectly in his massive, teeming hands.
When she spoke about him, she sounded akin to an addict talking about a drug of choice. She was addicted to her longing for him.
"All you need, Zara, is to find that one person to complete you. He’s my soulmate," she proclaimed to me one cloudy Wednesday afternoon.
She took a liberal sip of her vanilla skinny latte and peered at me with an illustrious gaze -- a gaze I’d never seen before, a gaze that indicated she was meaning more than what she was saying in that moment.
"He’s what was missing,” she softly whispered, smoothing her hair with her pastel painted fingernails.
Then, one springtime afternoon, while sipping a glass of blood-red wine at an outdoor cafe, Mike called it quits with Taylor. He said he wasn't feeling it anymore and thought they would be better off as friends.
Taylor felt her heart fall out of her chest and smash into a million little pieces. She blankly stared at the cement pavement, but it looked jilted and distorted. In a heartbroken haze, she hailed a taxi, went home and hid beneath the floral sheets of her full-sized bed.
She didn't come out for about six months.
No one is immune from the pitfalls of heartbreak. It's one of the most jarring, cutting, harrowing storms any person will weather throughout his or her life.
But it's dangerously painful for people who don't love themselves.
Taylor poured the entirety of her heart and soul into Mike. She gave him all of herself. She didn't place any value on her own happiness because his happiness became her happiness.
She thought Mike was what was missing from her life. But Mike wasn’t missing from Taylor’s life. Taylor was missing from Taylor’s life.
There is that tired cliché that you can't love someone if you can't love yourself. I've never believed it. You can love someone, but it's an unhealthy, toxic love.
One person can't be your everything -- no matter how incredible he or she is -- because people are unpredictable.
No matter how deep the promise, sometimes people leave us. Sometimes people pass away, unexpectedly. Sometimes our partner falls out of love with us. Sometimes, our boyfriends and girlfriends betray us in the most horrifying, humiliating ways.
You have to be your own everything.
It's imperative that you cultivate a deep and loving relationship with yourself before you fall into the arms of another human. If you haven't, you're giving all your power away.
And this life is too precious, too wonderful, too delicate, and too beautiful to allow one single entity to define your existence.
If you or someone you know is emotionally struggling, you are not alone. There are so many resources out there to help you:
Never suffer in silence. You and your life are far too valuable.