Hurt A Lot, Learn A Lot: A Horrific Breakup Is The Best Thing For You

by Gigi Engle

A horrible breakup isn't something we actively seek. We don’t open our hearts to have them broken, and we don’t enter into relationships with the intention of hurting someone. We want to love, and we want to be filled with love.

We’re looking for that person, our penguin, our mate for life, whether or not we may think that’s what we’re searching for.

After all, we’re young. We’re just learning about ourselves. It doesn’t seem like we’re out on the hunt for that special person. But we are.

Relationships in your 20s are different from any other time in your life. We’re fresh from college, maybe in a new city and starting to become an adult. But we’re not completely grown up just yet.

We’re not totally solidified in our adult identities, steadfast and grounded. We’re still growing, still changing. We’re somewhere in the interim of being a kid and a grownup.

This is why it's the best time to go through an awful, earth-shattering, heart-wrenching, don’t-know-if-I’ll survive breakup.

We learn a lot about ourselves after a breakup. And no, not a slow fade, not some inconsequential disappearing act that you can get over in six weeks.

I’m talking about losing a part of yourself, the part you created with that other person, the part you created when you were so in love you thought if you didn’t hold his hand, you would float away.

I’m talking about losing a part of your soul because you just lost a person you never thought you'd have to live without.

As we’re so young, still so new to life and still such recent citizens of the world, we have the ability to come back from heartbreak; we have the luxury of still changing, still morphing and fine-tuning our personhood.

Breaking up, being torn to pieces, forces us to put ourselves back together. It forces us to survive. If you’re going to learn about yourself and figure out what it is you want, you better open your heart to getting it demolished.

You’ll be better for it. We always are.

You’ll come back stronger.

Now that you’ve gone through something so traumatic, something so abysmal, you’ll be even stronger. Surviving a breakup is akin to surviving a war: You’re battered, bruised and broken.

Your emotions are cracked like china on wood, but you'll put yourself back together. You’ll build up your walls, drive in nails and stand with your head held high.

You’re a survivor, and your 20s is a time to test your character.

You’re young enough to bounce back.

At this young age, we’re still being educated in the master class of life. We’re like putty, bouncy and stretchy, always able to regain our original shape.

A breakup will change you, but the best time to change is now. You'll have time to polish out the scratches; you'll have the years to replace the varnish over your heart.

You’ll learn who you are outside of someone else.

When you fall in love, it’s as if the world suddenly becomes very hazy. The only thing in focus is the object of your affection. After time, it’s as if the two of you are melded into one. No one invites you out without your other half; you share the same friends, the same interest.

While being in love is beautiful and wonderful, it can also stifle independence and thwart your blossoming identity. When you break up, you’ll be forced to see yourself outside of another person. You’ll be forced to take a microscope to yourself and figure out exactly who it is you are on your own.

You’re braver now than you've ever been.

When facing the world with the weight of the horrible destruction that is a breakup on your shoulders, you’ll find that bravery comes from the darkest of places.

Never again will you allow yourself less than what you want -- never again will you settle. This was a test of endurance, and you will move on and muster the strength to truly live a fulfilling life, even if it is on your own.

Be brave enough to look into the face of the beast and know you can handle it yourself, spear in hand.

Now is the time to experiment.

You thought you knew what you wanted, but clearly that wasn’t the case. The person you built your life around is gone now and you need to figure out what that means to you, what that feels like. You have to recover from the missing touch and from the tug that they had on your heart.

Now is the time to try new things, maybe even crazy things -- things you never thought you’d try because they just didn’t feel like “you.” Go out and experiment and discover what this vibrant world has to offer.

Go take a bite out of life.

You’re forced out of your comfort zone.

The time to test your spirit is when you’re young — it’s a time to get out of your routine and explore.

This is not a time to be comfortable; it’s not a time to drift to the bottom of the jar like sand in a jar. When you lose love, you lose comfort and this will ultimately benefit you because you’ll be able to tell yourself just how far you can go.

Now is the time to be lonely.

It’s OK to be lonely. Loneliness and solitude are time for great bouts of introspection and reflection. You have the time to nurture your spirit, to discover your passions and to focus on your own life.

In the years to come, you might be married, have a few children, be tied down. Your 20s should be about you. Even though you may feel like your whole world has fallen apart, like you don’t have what it takes to live on, you will. Now is the time to be lonely, relish in that loneliness, devour and consume it.

Get drunk off it and learn to love yourself as much as you could ever love another person.

Your next love might be your greatest love.

After you’ve grieved, drenched your pillow in countless tears and watched every Audrey Hepburn movie on Netflix, after you’ve pulled yourself out of bed and out of those soiled pajamas, after you’ve looked out the window and realized that the sun actually still rises despite your heartbreak, you can recover.

It’s important not to close up your heart when it’s been broken because the next great love, maybe the greatest love, could be right around the corner. You will become surer of yourself once you’ve survived something so awful.

You can have a fuller heart, a more cautious heart, a more mature heart.

When we break up when we're young -- when we learn about that kind of loss -- we know that there's better, more fulfilling love waiting for us.

And we deserve it. We really deserve it.