Sometimes the biggest loss after a breakup isn’t him – it’s you. You allow yourself to get swallowed up in a relationship and come out facing a stranger in the mirror. It’s frightening to be alone, and the appeal of finding someone else to fill that void is tempting.
But before you go looking for your next partner, take a moment to find yourself. Stop searching for someone else – he’ll come once you’ve arrived, but you can’t know the right person for you if you don’t know yourself first.
In the meantime, be the love of your own life. Reclaim your own heart and recognize your own soul.
I found myself in the in-between.
I found myself in my friendships. Mindless chatter, heartfelt conversations, clinking mimosa glasses, and trips down memory lane. I was emboldened by the women who encourage me to be brave. To be unapologetically me. I felt understood by the men who stood up for me and treated me with respect, my brothers, fools with hearts of gold.
In the eyes of those who bothered to invest in me – there I was.
I found myself across the ocean. Puzzled by the foreign tongues, abuzz with Italian espressos. I saw my experiences, universal, among different faces, different skin, but within the same hopes and dreams. I learned to ask for help, to believe in the kindness of people, and to be humbled by the grandness of our world.
Delighted by the unknown city and its sea, giggling as we slipped into the water in the middle of the night, dresses tossed on the beach – there I was.
I found myself in my career, in my students. Shaping minds, sparking empathy, and struggling to make a difference. The weight of my stress propelled me forward, making me determined and more proactive. They pushed, so I pushed back, trying to strengthen us all. Skin thickened, I turned to self-assurance as well as the support of those around me.
Doors slammed, lessons were learned, and the bell clanged – there I was.
I found myself in the letting go. Saying ‘yes’ when I was intimidated but intrigued and ‘no’ when I was uninspired. In toasts to strangers, to friends, to a hell of a good time. I let go of control and dared to get lost with no rush back to normalcy. I was led astray and too trusting of some, but I learned my own limits. I discovered my own worth.
In the loneliness, the darkness, and finally, of course, in the bright sunshine – there I was.
I found myself in the act of opening up my heart again. I learned to appreciate people for who they are, but that not every offer needs to be taken. The princes and the frogs, the difference between genuine interest and temporary entertainment. I tested various hands and hearts; rather than contorting and reshaping myself to fit theirs, I paid attention to those that naturally fit my own. I stopped searching for him and decided to find myself, to find who I am and what I want, what I deserve.
Upon realizing that only I can complete my own life – there I was.
And so was he.