I woke up to the beep of an incoming text message. Half asleep, I felt around for my phone which somehow ended up tucked beneath my left hip.
My entire body ached in pain— especially my tailbone. During the night, my airbed had partially deflated– much like my life– leaving my body in a bottom-sunk position. Like trying to move an anchored boat, I struggled to pick myself up and shift direction.
“I’m going to need my airbed back.” He wrote.
I rolled my eyes and threw my phone across the floor.
“Ahhhhhh! I give up!” I shouted.
The empty walls and floors mocked me with their echoes. A few boxes, containing all of my now-molding belongings sat crumbling in a corner. I felt imprisoned and hopeless. “What now?” I wondered.
My much older, good-on-paper boyfriend had just broken up with me. And I truly felt broken. Not because he ripped my heart out, or because I was madly in love with him.
In reality, our relationship felt more like a business transaction than an intimate union.
To be honest, I don’t even know if we liked each other that much (save for a few glasses of wine). We were just two people who came together looking to be saved— and that was the problem.
As I collected my belongings from a rain-soaked street, I realized neither one of us benefited from being together. But, we may have both suffered— I know I did.
So I sat in my bare room, on top of a deflating airbed that didn’t even belong to me and wondered why I allowed myself to feel like I wasn’t good enough and why I allowed myself to be in a relationship with a man who I clearly wasn’t compatible with.
Did I really think so little of myself as to envision me, a competent and intelligent woman, as a trapped, helpless cinderella looking for a prince to rescue me?
And then it dawned on me— my relationship failed because I had already given up on myself before entering it.
And so I did.
And you can too. Here’s How:
1. Learn Who You Are Everyday
When I first met my ex-boyfriend, I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know what I was passionate about or what I wanted out of life. I wasn’t certain what I truly liked and disliked. I didn’t know myself.
The reality is, if you don’t know who you are then you will never be able to fully invest in a relationship because parts of you will still be undiscovered which will likely lead to gaping holes in the relationship.
Don’t wait until you’re laying on a popped airbed to learn about yourself. Instead, let this process of discovery be ongoing— before, after and during relationships— because the only certain thing about life is change, and we are all constantly changing.
2. Become the Person You Want to Be
As a woman in my early 20’s I didn’t even know who I was, much less who I wanted to become.
I was afraid to ask those tough questions, and really analyze my life. But, if you don’t know who you want to become, then how will you ever develop a path to turn into that person?
What are your strengths and weaknesses? How can you improve them? What makes you happy?
Make a list of all of your goals and dreams, and then cultivate an actionable to-do list that will set you on the path to personal success and happiness.
3. Take Care of Your Mind, Body and Soul
It wasn’t until after my breakup that I started caring more for myself than just hygienically; before then I thought as long as I was skinny and well-styled, everything else would fall into place.
Unfortunately this was a superficial perspective which quickly crumbled alongside my relationship.
Self care is the most important thing you can do for yourself because the way you feel impacts every single aspect of your life.
Get enough sleep. Maintain a healthy diet. Read books. Hone your talents daily. Meditate. Write. Think positive thoughts. Exercise. Believe in yourself. Surround yourself with things that make you happy and inspire you.
You are the only person responsible for your happiness, so nurture it and let it bloom.
4. Organize Your Life
When my ex and I broke up I remember one of the hardest aspects was me knowing I had to essentially start over, but I didn’t know where to begin. My life was so disorganized and chaotic, and I was left completely overwhelmed.
Organize your life now so you are always prepared for life’s changes, because life will change. Clean your house. Budget your finances. Set daily, weekly and monthly goals (and hold yourself accountable). Manage your time effectively (don’t be a social media abuser or TV junkie). Let go of things that no longer serve your needs— old clothes, shoes, furniture, relationships, people— anything weighing you down should be released.
Above all remember— you are worthy, you are important and you can have and do deserve happiness.