Why I Have So Much Love and Respect for Ariana Grande

There’s no skirting around it: Ariana Grande has had a hard couple of years. From the bombing at her concert at the Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017, to breaking up with her then-boyfriend, the late Mac Miller, who was struggling with addiction, dealing with Miller’s sudden death of an accidental overdose, and breaking off her high-profile engagement with SNL actor Pete Davidson, Grande was thrown for a loop and then some.

After the Manchester bombing, many thought Grande would not return to music and rightfully so. This was a horrible tragedy that took the lives of 22 people (23, including the bomber), nearly all of whom were die-hard Ariana fans, or Ariantors. But not even two weeks later, Grande returned to the stage to host the One Love Manchester event, a benefit concert for the victims and those affected by the blast. Grande was joined by her friends and colleagues on stage, such as Niall Horan, Miley Cyrus and Pharell, all of whom performed at the event in respect to those lost.

After some silence on social media and a step away from the spotlight following the attack, Grande came back fiercer and stronger than ever, releasing the first single from her upcoming album, “Sweetener,” a track called “No Tears Left to Cry.” The song was her first statement through music after the Manchester attack, telling the world that she had risen above the pain and the hate, and was feeling better than ever.

In May of 2018, it was announced that Grande and Miller had split amicably. Nearly a week later, news outlets reported Miller crashed his car and was charged with a DUI. Many people took to Twitter to blame Grande for Miller’s apparent spiral, especially with the rumors that she was already seeing another man, SNL actor Pete Davidson. But Grande was not having it.

Responding to a Twitter user who said she was to blame for Miller’s heartache and his poor choices, Grande clapped back, calling out those who believed women were to blame for a man’s actions, and the ludicrousness of expecting women to be their caretakers.

Until that Tweet, the world was unaware of the downward spiral Miller was having, and how toxic his and Grande’s relationship had become. She inevitably left, a choice that is not easy for any man or woman, choosing and putting herself first.

Grande soon began dating Davidson and eventually became engaged. Their engagement was short-lived, however, especially following the sudden death of Miller on Sept. 7, 2018. Internet users everywhere mourned Miller’s death, dragging Grande’s name into headlines and even suggesting it was her fault that he was dead. As for calling off her engagement to Davidson, it was never explicitly said why and truthfully didn’t need to be. But for many people, they assumed that the couples’ sudden engagement and the stress of Miller’s death on Grande, which happened mere weeks after the release of “Sweetener,” had become too much for Davidson to handle.

Grande has been to hell and back. And it’s wrong of all of us to assume what is and is not going on in her private life. She is the epitome of a strong, badass, independent woman who has truly turned pain into positivity. I have always been a big fan of her, but I only respected her, even more, this semester, especially when her relationship with Miller seemed to be mirroring my own.

Like Grande, I was very much in love with a person who truly treated me like a goddess. I was supported, encouraged and inspired by him daily. Notes were left on my bed when I returned from class that said ‘I love you and you’re going to kill it today! Don’t forget you’re valued.’ He sent my mother flowers and made an effort to hang out with my best friends one-on-one. I was thrown a wonderful surprise birthday party that all of my friends attended. I genuinely felt that he was the man I was going to marry one day and build a life with. But there were things bubbling under the surface with him that I couldn’t stop, some I ignored and some I never saw coming.

It is no one’s business what happened in my relationship, nor is it for Grande’s relationships and the rest of her personal life. But I do know her struggle of being in a relationship that was becoming unhealthy. Fortunately, my boyfriend did not struggle with addiction as Miller did. But there was the help he needed, help I tried to give him, which he took but didn’t completely appreciate.

I started to realize mid-way through this semester that I was losing myself in caring for him. I got stressed out when he took his time for class, minutes before he had to arrive. I was anxious when he stopped participating in the things he loved, like clubs and sports. While he was never emotionally, mentally, or physically abusive, I felt our relationship was becoming too difficult to handle, which only made me feel guiltier, because I knew he was struggling. But what I didn’t know was that he was taking me down with him.

Like Grande, I made the painful decision to put myself first. And while I used to think that was the easiest route, it’s anything but that. Sometimes picking yourself first isn’t always what you want to do. Sometimes you hurt someone else in the process. But if your relationship is becoming something where you’re constantly taking care of the other person, it is very easy to stop taking care of you. I wasn’t eating or sleeping well. I put off assignments and responsibilities for clubs and wasn’t acting like myself. And while I do know these were my choices and decisions (never things he asked of me), I had to let him go and walk away, for myself and for him.

Also like Grande, I wish my now ex-boyfriend nothing but the best. I pray for him every night. He is a good person to the core, but perhaps it was bad timing. There were things he needed that I could no longer provide and I hope someday he finds the happiness and peace he both deserves and needs, and gets these things only from himself, and not our relationship.

There is something truly special about pulling yourself out of your darkest hours, standing on your own and realizing your own worth without a significant other to help you in the process. That is what I did for my ex and what I think (although I will never truly know), what Grande did for Miller.

Women are often blamed for the downfalls for their male counterparts and are assumed to be the caretakers, which is something society has structured and made up, and something I hope gets eradicated with this generation. I know there are people who love and support my boyfriend that are also mad with me. They’re angry at me for leaving him. I am avoided on campus now by some of the people he knows and it leaves my eyes stinging as I mindlessly walk to my next destination. The judgment is unbearable; sometimes I want to cry and other days I want to scream. While I am happy he is being supported, I have started to feel almost punished by those around me (particularly men around me) for not staying with him through the long haul.

This journey has not been easy, as I’m sure it wasn’t for Grande leaving Miller, either. But there’s one thing I do know: If Ariana Grande can make it through all of the B.S. thrown at her -- from Manchester to Miller’s death to Davidson’s lewd comments about their failed relationship  -- then I can too. This storm will pass and I will make it through the dark. And for my ex, I have all of the love in the world for him. I hope he takes time to reflect on himself and his value in this difficult world, and that finds the peace he needs.

Get well soon.