There is a fine line between outward happiness and feeling whole.
Anyone can put on a face, laugh and try to engage, but it is what happens behind closed doors when you find yourself alone and crying yourself to sleep for the ninth time in a row that you realize something is missing...
Sure, you can talk the talk. You can try to be there for other people, and maybe if you just pretend you're fine eventually, you will be. But somewhere along the line, you won't be able to take it anymore.
And this is where I have found myself. Me -- the happy, positive girl's girl who can talk to anyone. The girl who tries to make others feel good about themselves and always puts others first.
In the last three months, I have learned a lot about myself, however, it would be hard to explain what I learned, and how I learned it, without sharing a complex part of my past.
I am a proud 3-year eating disorder survivor. Though I still cope with body dysmorphia, I am in a much better headspace than I was several years ago. However, several years ago is when a 6'1" turning point in my life literally marched through the door.
Let's call him "Ethan." He was the cutest guy in the Macy's Great American Marching Band 2014. As a band geek, he struggled a tad with talking to women, but we quickly became good friends and he ended up taking me to my senior prom. After several months of long-distance flirting, we decided to make it official. "Ethan" quickly became my entire life. His family treated me like one of their own, and to this day, they are amazing people.
But "Ethan" and I had problems. We couldn't see eye-to-eye on a lot of things, and we soon began to drift apart. Now, there was a lot of pressure for "Ethan" to be the one -- an entire future was planned out, but as we slowly evolved into different people, it became clear that we were not the fairytale we believed we were.
We broke up a few months short of our second anniversary. At first, things were great between us. Of course, we were sad, but we believed we needed time apart. But as seasons pass and years roll, it got ugly from both sides -- to the point that this once peppy, happy girl felt empty, depressed.
I tried to seek happiness in many different paths throughout my life-- work, possessions, school, friends -- but I always felt like I wasn't whole. There was something missing and I needed to find it.
That was until I found myself in Marketing 3000. We had been discussing happiness, in terms of consumer behavior, with my somewhat whacky professor who jokes a lot about meth, and that's when it all clicked.
The secret to happiness does not lie in material things -- and happiness does not equal success.
Happiness involves four pillars: relationships with others, relationships with your work environment, relationships with your family and, most importantly, the relationship with yourself.
Luckily, I've always had three of the four, but when my world came crashing down three months ago, I lost myself. I believed I was broken and I would never be okay again.
As the brilliant Stevie Nicks once said, "I've been afraid of changes because I built my life around you." When you lose that foundation, it's hard to get out of the rubble and begin to rebuild on your own. But I am not broken anymore, in fact, I never was.
I think the hardest part about break-ups is the feeling that you will inevitably never find someone who understands you and loves you ever again. You might even be having a lot of self-doubts, but you are not broken. You are strong, you are valued and you will get better in time.
Breakups suck. They are like losing a part of you, but the truth is, you had a life before them, you had a life with them and you will have a life after them.