When I think back to being 16, I laugh.
Not because of how awkward I was. Not because of how relentlessly I tried to fit in with my friends. Certainly not because of how young I was and “how little I knew” about the world around me.
I laugh, and cringe, because I can’t even believe the way that I let people treat me back at that age. I let friends walk all over me, and I was absolutely desperate to find unconditional love at the age of 16. Why? Well, I can’t tell you why. I don’t even know why my need for love was so intense when I was a teenager. I think it’s all of the romantic comedies I watched as a child that may have instilled the idea of forever teenage love in my brain.
Of course, when we are all young and more naive, we have the tendency to let people take advantage of us. It’s part of the growing experience, I guess. I let people walk all over me for years before I finally had enough and ended up alienating people who were abusing my friendship. When I was 16, I desperately wanted to feel connected to someone and I would try to befriend as many people as possible to see if I could find that magical friendship that would last forever. None did, and I would bet that is a familiar story.
I was also naive about teenage relationships. My first real boyfriend, I presumed, would always feel the same way about me. Why would he not? I wasn’t going to change for all I knew. He said I was beautiful, and I would always sort of look like the way I did then, right? He said I was funny, and with time, I could only get funnier! He said I was sweet, well, that’s just something natural in me that I can’t fight against. So what could ever change?
As time would tell, the relationship didn’t last. I clung to every aspect of our relationship, refusing to give it up. I was so convinced that it was what I wanted and needed that I was in denial about the fact that people are meant to grow together and apart.
I couldn’t go to sleep because I was in so much pain. I knew that we would never again have the relationship we had, and the truth of it all was more than I could bear. When I was finally able to actually fall asleep, I didn’t want to wake up because reality was hard to bear. I felt like someone had left me completely cleft down the middle; I was in physical and emotional pain. We all know how this works. This is what, for most women, first heartbreaks feel like. To my benefit, I was super emotional as a teenager, which just added on to the emotional circus.
There were so many things that I wish I knew at that time in my life. Of course, we have to go through painful experiences to come out the other side. That is just a fact. However, I have been recently inspired to visit these times in my life so that I can help out a friend who is currently going through the same thing. The shock, the pain, and how blind love can be: these are things we can all understand when it comes to failed relationships.
To the person having difficulty right now feeling like herself:here are the things that I wish I knew when I was going through my first breakup, which you will inevitably use yourself.
Time Is Key
Honestly, I hate even mentioning this. It makes sense; “time heals all wounds.” Unfortunately, whoever came up with that phrase is completely right.
I wish that I had known that it would take a little while to get over, but that time would help me start feeling more like myself. This is obviously easier said than done, because how can you focus on the future when you are in so much pain in the present?
This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to learn. When we go through emotional experiences, it always feels like the end of the world is right around the corner. I’m here to tell you it’s not. You’re going to feel that pain in your chest for a little while, and you’re going to have very unpredictable emotional moments.
Little by little, you’ll start forgetting about him or her. One day at a time.
Or, in the words of Rose Kennedy:
The bottom line is, time helps realization.
Don’t Tear Yourself Down
This is one is a biggie, and a thoughie. I became so dependent on one person that I lost myself. I thought that I had a good grasp of myself: who I was and what I was capable of. I let my relationship disaster tear me down and question the goodness that was inside me. “Maybe I wasn’t that great, after all…”
REMEMBER: You are perfect the way you are. One of my favorite movie lines in all the world comes from Patrick Verona (10 Things I Hate About You), AKA the wonderful Heath Ledger: “Don’t let anyone ever make you feel like you don’t deserve what you want.”
You’re the best. Remember this during all the pain.
Someone Better Is On Their Way To You
You won’t be able to believe this right after you break up with someone. You’re used to someone in particular hugging you, kissing you, being there for you.
I hate to phrase it like this, but there’s a reason why we don’t end up with certain people. We’re meant to meet other people and, as we get older, we start to understand who is for us and who isn’t.
With time (see first point), you’ll be able to see that the guy/gal that broke your heart wasn’t even right for you anyways.
Distractions Are The Way To Go
Keep yourself working hard. Keep busy. When you let your mind wander, you will start to feel the sadness creep back in, at least for a while. Find a new hobby, work out, or focus on your studies/work. Don’t let your mind go back and play the what if game. Don’t worry yourself to death. Keep moving on.
The Most Important People In Your Life Will Surround You
As I always say, life difficulties show us the true colors of our friends. The people that matter will be there to comfort you, but to also pick you up and help you keep moving.
During this time, try to make a list of all the people who reached out to you and tried to comfort you. These are your real friends, and this is how real friendship works for the rest of your life.
Steer Clear of Social Media
THIS IS AN ABSOLUTE FACT. The more time you spend stalking your ex on social media, the longer it will take to get over it. And, of course, like most exes, they won’t have a problem posting pictures of them and their new significant other. This WILL make it worse.
Unfriend your ex, deactivate your accounts, whatever you need to do. Social media does not help. Period.
Indifference Is Also Key
Emotions are what fuels the pain. Little by little indifference towards your ex should start to take over. This is when you start to realize that you’re moving on.
Or, you know. Be Mila Kunis.
You Will Start To Feel Like Yourself Again
I wish that I had known that, eventually, I would start to feel better. I felt drained, weak, sad, and generally confused about life.
Again, it does take time. But I wish I knew that I was going to be able to wade through the confusion and come out the other end. Sometimes, when you’re in your lowest of lows, it doesn’t feel that way.
You’ll find yourself again, you will.
Keep Meeting All The People
The bottom line is: there are so many people out in the world that are inspiring, beautiful souls. Meet as many people as you can. Listen to other people’s opinions and life stories. You’ll soon realize that your ex is your ex because they were not right for you. It’s hard to admit this, especially when you think that you’re “destined” to be with someone. But, you deserve the best.
Live your life and converse with as many people as you can. Your outlook on life will change; your outlook on your own situations will change. You’ll start to really appreciate what you have. Then, your ex will fade into the distance.
Breakups are hard. We go through the motions and forget that we’re going through personal growth. You will love again; just remember to keep living.