When I was 21 years old I went through a horrible breakup. I’ll spare you the details, but as a brief glimpse into the emotional roller coaster which lasted for more than six months, it was the breakup from a five year relationship that I thought would forever taint my idea of love. I know what you’re probably thinking – who knows what love is at 21, right? And looking back, it’s safe to say I didn’t really understand the four letter word, but at the time I was living and breathing every moment as if it was the only moment – and it was a big deal.
But I dealt with it over time and put it in the memory vault, something to try not to think about or revisit.
And it stayed there until I was watching 20th Century Women and Annette Bening said: “Having your heart broken is a tremendous way to learn about the world.”
And this got me thinking.
Having your heart broken, your trust stolen, and your faith in other people destroyed, forces you to question everything in a new way. Your future relationships, experiences and your understanding of who you are and who you want to be start to go through your mind on repeat like your favourite 90s pop song.
But what we too often forget, heartbreak is also an opportunity.
An opportunity to learn and to change. Be thankful that you have had the experiences you had (this will take time), because everything you have done until that point has shaped who you are.
Instead of focusing on how insecure I felt, I learnt to love myself. I became comfortable being alone. I embraced change rather than being scared of it, welcoming new opportunities that would never have come knocking previously. I appreciated my friends and family more. And I pushed myself to step out of my comfort zone.
At 21 years old, this seemed unfathomable. But sitting here seven years later I’ve come to realise that having my heart broken was probably the best thing for me at the time. It helped me to question what I wanted in life, it lead me to learn more about the world, and myself than I thought possible. If it hadn’t been for that first heartbreak, I probably wouldn’t have had so many amazing experiences with so many amazing people since.