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What I Gained In Breaking Up

I had the most fantastic guy. He basically saved me from myself when I needed someone most. For three and a half years, we had that Nicholas Sparks kind of connection (except not so cliché). So if you would have asked me eight months ago if I thought I’d be single and thoroughly enjoying it, I’d probably stomp away in disbelief.

The only real issue we had, (which seemed so small for so long but ended up being a major foundational problem) was our complete and utter lack of reality when it came to the future. College is the weird period of change and self-growth while still remaining isolated from all the realities of the “real world.” I was 17 when we met and finding time to watch movies together in between after-school sports practice and studying for my algebra exam was our biggest worry. Why would I possibly be thinking about our post-college status?

Time goes by really fast somehow, and before I knew it I was 21 years old and dreaming of living alone in a 300 sq. ft. studio in Lower Manhattan with my cat that my then-boyfriend was ironically allergic to. He, on the other hand, had medical school on the brain and a passion for mountain views and action sports. From the outside, everything probably looked fine and dandy. They say opposites attract, after all. But for me, it was slowly becoming clear that we as individuals weren’t exactly heading in the same direction.

I’ll spare you the raw, painful details that anyone who has experienced a breakup can feel creep up like a lump in their throat. Fast-forward to now. I’ve been alone (no negative stigma intended) for about a month, and in that time, I’ve been able to put more energy into myself and my future than I had in the last four years combined. Having someone special in your life is a spectacular feeling and it teaches you a lot about who you are. However, it also means that you have someone else to worry, think, and care about during all hours of the day on top of doing those things for yourself. For a long time, that did not seem like an issue for me. Now, apparently, it does.

It’s a beautiful thing to be selfish. That word harbors such a bad reputation, but in reality, it is the quality that pushes people to grow. For so long, I was so scared to put myself and my goals first in the fear that it would come off the wrong way. So instead of being honest with myself and those around me, I walked around constantly feeling guilty for the selfish thoughts swirling around in my head. I could have never imagined that all it took to make it all go away was actually just to come clean.

Breaking up is never easy. When you’re with the same person for nearly your entire young adult life, it can be the hardest, scariest, most absolutely terrifying thing in the world to lose that person. It’s painful, emotional, and forces you to question everything, including yourself. But it is also liberating and allows me to focus on the most important relationship I have—with myself.

Have you had a similar experience? What did you learn from breaking up? Let us know in the comments below.

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