Let’s talk about… break-ups.

As most 20somethings know, a break-up has the potential to change everything in a person’s life. Can we really call it life shattering? I don’t think we should go that far but, it certainly makes you consider curling up in your bed and never getting out. Reaching the “in a relationship” status on Facebook means that you’ve spent enough time to get to know someone else and reach the realization that what you’ve got is pretty great. Sometimes that status takes a toll and pretty soon you’ll be clicking “single” and hiding that info so that people aren’t balling their eyes out over your all too perfect relationship. In my case it took 2 years and 8 months with a 6 month hiatus and then another 4 months to fall in and out of love with my now ex-boyfriend. So basically that adds up to 3 years. Yes, 3 years with the same man and what some of my acquaintances call “nothing to show for it”. We had a wonderful relationship when it began; we drove hours to attend random festivals that we found on the internet that day, read at the beach together, and only had the chance to see each other 2 or 3 times a week. It was glorious! But then…we started seeing each other every day and falling into the monotonous routine of being college students whose priorities were school work and growing up too fast. We lasted almost another 2 years together on this path but obviously it didn’t work out. Having 6 months away from each other taught me a lot about myself. It was one of the key instances that led me to the realization that loving oneself should always come first. I mean if you plan on being happy that is. And now that we have reassured ourselves that not being together is the best decision I can honestly say that I have never been more content.

Being alone has had way too many perks to be considered a bad thing. Let’s face it; many of us grow the most between the ages of 18-21. The transition from first-year college students to “adults” is quite possibly the most important in one’s life. It’s a time to consider what your career might actually be instead of simply calling oneself a business major, when you start asking for things you desperately need rather than things you want during the holiday season, and realizing how much alcohol you can handle in one night (and that illegal substances mixed with that amount can be a deadly combo). Try doing all of these things while worrying about someone else. Being in a relationship has the potential to really hold you back.

Since our break up (the official one not the so-called “break” from one another) I have been able to open up my mind to so many possibilities in my career path. Being a dancer, or any sort of artist, means that security is not always available. The possibility of moving across the country for a job in a company or the need to work other jobs in order to make any money at all is stressful. For someone to have to worry about all of those aspects of life and then factor in the feelings of their partner just doesn’t seem conducive to growth. As young people we need to have a chance to just be on our own. Learning to rely on the security of another human’s arms is not the way to deal with real world problems. That is the best thing I’ve discovered since being a single woman. I have realized my potential as a dance artist and all of the opportunities that are out in the greater world for me to pursue. Not being tied down in any way has offered so many rewards.

I also discovered the amazing opportunities one can experience when they are simply on their own. And I mean completely on your own. One fine example being that I began taking yoga classes and quickly found something that I adored! I dove into this becoming healthier and more whole within my body and mind. I bought books and meditated for several months after the break-up. I became a new woman! My family said I seemed happier and calmer. I also realized that going shopping on my own was more productive, less stressful, and not so scary after all. Walking into a cafe to write or maybe to browse tumblr for an hour felt so good! And feeling the stare of an attracted individual without guilt in your heart is like flirting in middle school all over again. There are so many little things that have made me extremely happy with who I am and none of it happened in the time spent with my ex-significant other. Now, the time you spend in a relationship has so many benefits as well and I truly believe that the experiences that I had with my boyfriend helped me to become who I now am. The thing to realize though is that all of my growth was actually noticed once I became my own person.

Listen, I am certainly not saying that we should be lonely forever because heaven knows I do not want that. What I’m trying to draw light on is the fact that a break-up often leaves us with feelings of despair and hopelessness, when indeed we should feel light and free! We should try to find the excitement that we had when courting our ex when courting new interests or try all of the things that we never were able to when we had that special someone by our side. Look to your best friends and realize just how important they are. Take the time to appreciate what it means to go to a bar (or your local Starbucks) and be hit on! Read those sappy romance novels that you forgot about, watch The Notebook again, and start a new workout plan. Look to all of the little things that make us happy with or without a significant other. At this point in our lives we shouldn’t even be considering being single for the rest of our lives. We’ve got plenty of years to find the right person. Live your life while you can and don’t sulk over the recent loss of you partner. Just smile and have fun!

Gossip Girl's Blake Lively and Leighton Meester

Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively and Leighton Meester