Trying to navigate relationships through the awkward stages of college is hard. Some of your friends are getting married right out of high school. Others are mindlessly 'swiping right' and sliding into strangers DM's trying to catch that quick, meaningless hookup. Tinder, that awkward 'talking' stage, the concept of 'cuffing season'; how is dating in college supposed to work?
I fell into the category of people who went off to college madly in love. Fresh out of high school, the young, naïve, helpless romantic that was 18-year-old me thought without a doubt that I would be marrying this person sometime in the next five years.
Boy, was I wrong.
If you've ever been in a long-term relationship before, at some point, you find yourself asking "are they the one?". After months of long distance, I found myself asking "is she the one?" far too often than anyone in a healthy relationship should.
Countless nights out with friends and family given up, doing things I didn't want to do, transferring schools to avoid more long-distance, I was sacrificing my happiness to make someone else happy. I thought that the long nights waiting for a phone call and the weeks I would wait to see her over school breaks would all be worth it. Why? Because I cared about her and I saw our future together. You're supposed to make personal sacrifices for the people you love.
At least that was the version of love that Nicholas Spark's portrayed it to be.
Just because you two have been through a lot together; have grown to love each other's families; have made a lifetime worth of memories, or have talked through what your future as a couple may hold is no reason to stay together if you are unhappy.
It's easy to become dependent in a long-term relationship. I became so reliant on my partner that I was willing to sacrifice my happiness out of the fear of being alone.
Who would I have to talk to, to take to family events, to walk around campus with? Who would I take to see that new movie or try out that new restaurant I've been dying to go to? We have so many jokes and memories together, who was I supposed to make new ones with?
Regardless of all of these 'what-if's,' to no one's surprise, my long-term relationship ended. For the first time in months, I was alone, with nothing or no one to worry about but the future that was ahead of me. At first, I was scared. However, as the months after our separation passed, I began to rediscover who I was before this relationship.
I made new friends and new memories; walked around campus alone; joined a gym; started making music again, and even treated myself to that new restaurant and movie that I'd been dying to go to.
I fell in love with my single-self and became okay with being alone, and I've never been happier.
Moving on from a relationship with someone you've loved for a long time is hard. At times you miss the comfort and security that this person once brought you. However, these new relationships and experiences will bring you a lifetime of memories that you may have never experienced if you had continued to let your relationship hold you back.
Check out to that new restaurant alone. Go out and make memories with your new friends. Put yourself out there. Love yourself.
Your identity is not tied to the people you once dated. You don't need a boyfriend or girlfriend to give your life meaning and purpose.
In typical Ariana fashion, to my ex, wherever you may be, thank you. Thank you for the memories, the jokes, the countless new experiences. Thank you for showing me all the things that I truly deserve. Thank you for teaching me how to stand up for myself and put my happiness first. Thank you for loving me. I wish you nothing but the best.