UC Berkeley’s transition to mainly in-person classes and activities mean a lot of things for me: a chance to finally connect with my professors, the opportunity to make friends in my classes, and unfortunately, probable confrontation for the first time with an ex from three years ago.
We had a torrid high school romance. We met at a summer camp and fell into the same friend group. They were smart, funny, kind, and could argue with me for hours about anything from presidents of the United States to our favorite romantic comedies. It became a Ross and Rachel, “will they, won’t they?” situation. As the camp drew to a close, we had to confront the realities of high school relationships and long-distance. They eventually stopped talking to me for weeks at a time, and I eventually pulled the plug.
Over the past three years, so much has changed. I’ve dated many people since and have been in a relationship with my current partner for two of those years. And still, coming to Berkeley knowing they’re in the same place with a similar academic path to me makes my heart fall to my stomach when I think about our inevitable run-in with each other.
This has got me thinking: Is it possible to ever really get over someone? I was sure that I was. I went through all the stages of relationship grief – binging ice cream, watching Gilmore Girls, crying to my friends, dating around, and finally settling down with someone new. What did I do wrong?
The truth is, breakups carry so much more than what happened between two people, which can lead you to dig for answers in search of closure. When I broke up with my ex, my brain bombarded me with questions. What did I do wrong? Did I become undesirable? Was I too emotional during the breakup? At the time, I thought I could never truly move on without knowing what was going on in my ex’s head, especially what they were thinking about me.
But as three years have gone by without an answer, I’ve made an important realization for myself: breakups inevitably bring out self-doubts that target who you are, the operative word being self. That’s because when you break up with someone, you might be letting them go, but pieces of you that grew or changed within that relationship are still around. In that process, it’s an easy instinct to cringe at the person you became in the relationship and try to shed your old skin for someone glamorous and new in order to move on.
But the truth is, there will always be pieces of you from that old relationship. For me, that is my curiosity about politics and social issues that my ex inspired me to learn more about. For you, that might be a newfound love for a TV show or an adventurous streak. Ultimately, we’re products not just of ourselves, but of all the relationships we create, romantic and otherwise.
So, am I over my ex? Yes, and you can be too! The true question is, are you nervous to see them because you’re afraid you’ll be rejected again, or are you nervous to see them because you fear you’ll be uncomfortable with yourself? If it’s the latter, it’s time to look back at the you in your old relationship and love them for being a part of who you are today, while still owning who you are now as confidently as you can.