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Sex + Relationships

7 Things I Learned from My First Heartbreak

By Tiffany Tran

At 16 years old, I thought I had it all. I was a strong academic student and a star athlete with great family and friends and, most importantly, a great love. College was getting closer, and my boyfriend and I had made so many amazing plans well beyond those years. I remember thinking that life couldn’t get any better than this.

I never anticipated that all of the planning of our dreams and promises would end up being for nothing. When he broke up with me, it felt as if my whole world came crashing down. I suddenly found myself in a real-life version of one of Taylor Swift’s many breakup songs. The next few months after the break up consisted of plenty of tears, sadness, anger and pain: the perfect recipe for a disaster. At the same time, I had to pretend everything was okay and continue to be the student, the athlete and the driven person that people knew me as. At 16 years old, I thought I had it all: I was a strong academic student and a star athlete with great family and friends and, most importantly, a great love. College was getting closer, and my boyfriend and I had made so many amazing plans well beyond those years. I remember thinking that life couldn’t get any better than this.

I still struggle with my first heartbreak (and it has been a few years since the breakup). However, I’ve come to realize that I learned so much more about myself after the breakup than I did when I was in the relationship. While there are days where I will think back on how things ended with my ex, I always tell myself seven important things to remind me that life does get better eventually.

1. It’s okay to cry

I always thought crying was for the weak. I never did it in front of anyone, not even my family or close friends. I’ve come to realize that tears are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of humility and strength.

You should never be ashamed to cry when going through something like this. Crying lets you express so many emotions that can’t be put into words. It can also be viewed as cleansing our souls to let go of the hurt. There’s nothing more sad yet beautiful than seeing someone begin to heal on such a level.

2. You need to put yourself first

In relationships, we tend to put the needs of our significant other before our own. We disregard our own opinions and values for the sake of our lover. Slowly, their happiness becomes the only source of our happiness. When that relationship ends abruptly, we feel as if we’ve lost that happiness.

While it is true that breakups take something away from us, they do not take away our identity. I’ve come to learn that in order for there to be a healthy relationship, each person has to learn to love themselves before loving the other person. A relationship calls for the respect of each other’s personal beliefs and feelings. If any of these elements are compromised, the whole relationship will begin to spiral out of control.

The best kind of relationship is one where both of you know how to value one another and yourselves. It’s okay to be selfish and look after yourself before anyone else. If anything, that’s where you’ll probably learn to love yourself the most.

3. You are stronger than you think

When going through the breakup, I remember thinking there was no way I was going to get over this. I had been crying for weeks and the tears didn’t seem like they wanted to stop.

While it is okay to grieve, it’s not okay to get swallowed up by the grief. One of the difficult parts of any situation is realizing the amount of strength you might have. You are stronger than you know. You were a strong independent person before they entered into your life, and you’ll surely transform into that person again. All it takes is strength and the will to believe that this is something you can get through.

4. He wasn’t the only person who loved you

I thought my ex was the only person who truly loved me and understood me inside and out. So when we broke up, I thought I had lost the one person who knew everything about me, who accepted my demons and loved my flaws.

However, the whole time I was mesmerized by his love, I didn’t realize that the people who truly loved me the most never left. The entire time, I had closed myself off to them, cutting off my ability to feel their support. I just had to open myself to let them love me.

5. Don’t doubt your self-worth

The worst part of the breakup was not losing the boy, but almost losing myself. I placed all the blame onto my shoulders and felt as if I was the one who failed the relationship. I began to accept the loneliness that was upon me and questioned my own self-worth.

Thinking back, I realized that I did all I could to make the relationship last. It wasn’t my fault that he left, and his decision shouldn’t have any reflection on me whatsoever. You’re worthy enough to desire happiness and love in your life. Just because this one particular relationship didn’t work out doesn’t mean that there won’t be others in the future.

6. You will change for the better

With every experience you go through in life, you come out a different person. The same is true for heartbreak. It’s true that during a breakup, you lose that unexplainable something that you can never get back. You will never go back to the person you were before the relationship started.

The only way you’re looking now is forward, because the past is something you can’t dwell on anymore. The pain has taught you that heartbreak is something you don’t want to go back to. This is something that will only help you grow in the end.

Rollercoasters are exhilarating because they put you through a series of emotions whether it be fear, thrill or even adventure. You don’t step off a ride with the same emotions as when you stepped on. Life is the same thing. You don’t get out of a relationship to only revert back to the old you. You blossom into someone better.

7. You will love again

After my breakup, I thought I was never going to fall in love again. It had taken me months to truly feel like I was beginning to move on from my ex. But the fear of never finding love stuck along with me.

It wasn’t until my freshman year of college where I met a guy in one of my classes. As I got to know more about him, I also realized I had another feeling: butterflies. It was the first time since my breakup that I actually had romantic feelings for someone, and for once, I felt so hopeful.

You may tell yourself that the pain will last forever, but I promise you it won’t. You will come to realize that you learn so much more about yourself through a tough experience like this. It is okay to feel nostalgic about what you once had, but know that something better is out there for you. Life can get better for all of us, and it will.

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