Out of all the things that have led me to be the woman I am today, (grey on grey sweatsuit, peanut butter m&ms in the kangaroo front pouch, boss a$$ bitch), one of the most significant has been experiencing a really difficult breakup.
I always wanted to be the woman who never let a significant other affect their life. Regardless if I was in a relationship or not, I figured that I would always do whatever I wanted and be able to pick myself up quickly and move on with my life if a man chose to leave it. Even when I was in a serious and long term relationship, I was still under the impression that I was an independent and self sufficient woman. I was wrong.
I was with someone for around three years before they abruptly dumped me over the phone (if you're reading this, I still want my CDs back) and I realized that I had turned into a completely reliant, lazy, and dependent person under the impression for years that I was the complete opposite. All of a sudden, I felt like I was nothing, and I knew that wasn't really how an independent woman was supposed to be feeling after something like this. When you're with someone for a long time, you start to get comfortable. And after the stage of comfortability hit, I realized that I begun to get dependent on my boyfriend. I relied on him for so many of my problems that is was hard for me to learn to take care of myself emotionally when he wasn't around. NOT. OK. The second I realized what I had become, I started turning things around for myself at an alarmingly quick rate.
Minutes after the breakup, I dyed my hair red. Every girl dyes their hair after a breakup. It's the universal code for 'I don't want to talk about it'. This was symbolism of 'a new me', and also a representation of me losing $10 every two weeks to Target. Red hair dye fades fast. Would not recommend to any post-breakup individuals who wish to change up their look in order to temporarily forget about their sadness.
I loved my red hair. It was fiery and sassy and in your face. It screamed "I'M INDEPENDENT NOW AND I'M DESPERATE FOR ALL OF YOU TO KNOW THIS ABOUT ME" and it was everything I felt that I needed in order to become the New Rebecca. I then made a mental list of everything I never did because I was in a relationship and forced myself to do all of them, whether I felt like I were to succeed or not.
First, parallel parking. My ex drove me everywhere, I didn't know how to park a car without damaging another. But one night, there was only one parking space available on the street outside my apartment, and it was between two other cars. My mouth said "FUCK no", but my brain told me to try it. My friend in the passenger seat encouraged me and gave me helpful instructions, and soon enough, I was parked perfectly. I have never smiled harder in my entire life. I screamed, jumped out of the car, took pictures, and called my mom. I did something I never thought I could do without my boyfriend! While also learning a basic driving skill that most people know how to do! Incredible. I could do anything after that. And I did.
I started writing more serious topics for the paper and speaking up in staff meetings. My articles were met with success and were always seen on the 'Most Popular' section of the newspaper website.
I ran for a position in my sorority and won the spot.
I worked harder in school and received the highest semester GPA of my entire college education.
I started working weekend events at my school's art gallery which opened doors to brand new experiences and connections.
I applied for a full time position at a local cafe and have never been happier with a work decision.
Everything that I was pushing myself into was giving me positive results, and I had been holding back this entire time because I was focusing on my relationship instead. I learned just who the hell I was and who I could be when I put my all into things and actually tried, and it feels so good to be doing things on my own.
It's still hard sometimes. Learning to be independent is a very rewarding process, but sometimes it can be lonely, and sometimes you wish that someone else could take care of you for awhile instead. But the good news is, boyfriends aren't the only people who can do that. Best friends can pick you up when you start to feel down about the situation, and I am very lucky to be surrounded by so many people who do this for me when I need them. My friends are supportive, constructive, and sensitive. They continue to encourage me to grow while also being my cushion during the occasional comedown. Get yourself a group of friends who will do the same for you when you need them.
So, to my first real heartbreak, THANK YOU. Thank you so much for breaking up with me. Thank you so much for not coming back into my life. Thank you so much for cutting off all contact the second you hung up the phone almost a year ago. There is surprisingly no sarcasm in my tone when I say that is has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Being single for the past year has opened my eyes to so many positive experiences, and each day I grow more and more as a woman. I challenge myself, I work for myself, and I want more for myself.
A short time after the breakup, my mom noticed me joking around with her when I was home for the weekend. When she looked at me funny, I asked why.
"There's just a spark in you that I haven't seen for a long time. You look happy."
She was right.
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