Thrive on Campus//

The Most Important Thing I’ve Learned From My Breakup

If you’re feeling lost, here’s some insight to help you get back on your feet and regain your confidence and independence.

Welcome to our new section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus.) We welcome faculty, clinicians and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.

A few weeks ago, Ariana Grande released her latest single, “Thank U, Next,” which topped the charts of Spotify within a matter of hours. The song is empowering and is about how Grande found solace despite four failed relationships, one of them including an engagement. Instead of being angry at her exes and ripping into them for the demise of those relationships, she thanks them and reflects on how they taught her “love, patience, and pain.” Her mature take on her breakups taught me a lot about mine and how each of them led me down a different path.

My most recent breakup was only two months ago. It still stings to even talk about it, but looking back on everything, I would not be where I am today. Today, I’m the most independent and successful college student I could possibly be and I wouldn’t be able to be in this position while also having a boyfriend. After the breakup, I used my free time that I would’ve spent with a boy to instead use on myself and what I love to do.

The first thing that I began to do was create more art. I’m an art major and while I already make so many projects for my classes, I never really took the time to make art for myself. Art felt like a chore to me in the past. It was something I was good at and I did enjoy doing it, but I hated that everything had guidelines. I just wanted to create my own work without any boundaries but I simply didn’t have the time because of all the assignments being thrown my way, plus I was setting away time for my boyfriend. Now, without a boy to distract me, I have a lot more time on my hands to make art that inspires and empowers me. I’ve been making posters that I hang up around my room to give me a little inspiration everyday.

In addition to creating more art and healing my mind, I’ve also taken the time to pay attention to my body. I was never one to exercise but my breakup led to a lot of pent-up emotions. I soon realized that the best way to get these emotions out was to run. So I ran and ran for miles on the treadmill. I genuinely feel healthier and happier now that I exercise and it’s helped so much in terms of releasing stress, anger, or any other negative energy.

Art and exercise were a start for focusing on my mind and body after the breakup but I wanted more. I joined two clubs, one being art therapy and the other being an organization that sponsors girls’ education in low-income countries. These clubs have helped me meet new people and bond with girls who I can relate to and share amazing connections with. During my freshman year, I wasn’t a part of any clubs and didn’t think of joining one until I got out of a relationship. If it weren’t for that breakup, I would have missed out on so many opportunities to meet new and amazing people.

My breakup sent me down the path I was meant to go on. Like Ariana Grande, I no longer feel bitter about my ex. We didn’t end well and we aren’t on speaking terms, but maybe it’s for the best. If it weren’t for our breakup, I wouldn’t even have this opportunity to write for such an amazing platform like Thrive Global. My breakup made me want to do better and be better. So if you’re someone going through the post-breakup stages right now, take your time to grieve the relationship but also get up and get out and start doing things for yourself. I’m finally learning how to be happy on my own and treating myself the way I deserve to be treated. Doing all of these self-healing exercises and extracurricular activities has taught me that I’m really great when I’m independent. And like Ariana Grande said, “I’ve learned from the pain; I turned out amazing.” So with that, I say this to every guy who gets in the way of my independence: Thank you, next.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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