A job can break your heart. Anyone who tells you that work should always trump personal relationships because your career will not wake up one morning and tell you it doesn’t love you anymore, has never been fired from their dream job. They’ve never left a position that defined them. They’ve never been downsized from something they put their whole heart and soul into – because a job can absolutely break your heart. It can shatter you. It can take a thriving, fulfilling existence that you’ve carved out from the bottom up, and rip it ruthlessly out of your fingers with a single agonizing letter reading “Two weeks notice.”
Your work is such an intensive, immersive part of your life and having it ripped from your fingers is an absolutely heartbreaking experience. It can be every bit as traumatic as losing a person.
A dream can break your heart. Spending your entire life striving and fighting and barreling toward a certain end that you never reach can break you. It can unhinge you. It can make you question everything you once thought you knew about the ways in which the Universe works and it can rob you of the faith you’ve always clung to.
It can break your heart to not achieve your dream and it can also break your heart to achieve it. To finally reach the point that you have been waiting for your entire life and realize that the grass seemed greener before you got there. That the singular hope you had been hinging your entire existence on didn’t magically solve all of your problems. That it’s still up to you to create your own meaning and fulfillment – that realization can break your heart.
Death can break your heart. Losing someone you thought you’d never have to be without, to an illness or an accident or a disease, is capable of shattering your spirit in ways you didn’t know that it could shatter. When you have to go on living without someone who didn’t deserve to have life taken from them, the pure magnitude of the unfairness of it all can unhinge you. It can wilt you. It can take away your ingrained sense of justice and make you question everything you knew about the balance and finality of life.
Being helpless can break your heart. Arriving at the point in your life in which you realize that you are not holding all the cards can be inexplicably debilitating. It can rob you of your passion, of your purpose, of your sense of autonomy over your very existence. When we watch undeserving people struggle with debilitating fates, it breaks the parts of our hearts that believe in fairness. In order. In our ability to manipulate the world around us in a way that is meaningful and lasting.
There are a perhaps a thousand ways for our hearts to crack and shatter over the course of our lives, but there is one we all fall privy to too often.
Because you can also break your own heart.
You can spend an entire lifetime telling yourself “You are unworthy. You’re unfit. You are not rich enough or thin enough or strong enough to ever achieve any of the things that you hope for.”
You can spend your entire existence denying yourself happiness and love and belonging because some broken part of you has decided that you do not deserve it. And in the end, this is the only way our hearts ever truly break for good.
Because we come back from losses. We come back from failures. We come back from breakups and abandonments and disillusionments – so long as we believe we deserve to. So long as we are able to take a big, long look at our own hearts and decide This deserves to get pieced back together.
I deserve to fight for my happiness.
I deserve to finally heal.
Our hearts will break – time and time and time again – over the course of our feeble existences. But they never break irreparably. They never shatter in ways we can’t fix. Our hearts are stronger than all of the things that ever break them, if we give them permission to be.
So please, I beg of you, do not waste your lifetime breaking your own heart.
Because you’re the only one who ever truly can.