A Lesson in Never Settling

Heartbreak is a funny thing. While it is an undeniably necessary experience in regards to building character and shaping the changing paths of our lives, it is also something we all desperately avoid.

Call it self-preservation, but we are all absolutely terrified of the vulnerability which comes with getting hurt, especially in the romantic sense.

Don’t get me wrong, I know the ins and outs of heartbreak just as well as any other young adult. While my romantic trials and tribulations are likely very different from yours, I’m sure we can still relate on many common themes of break ups, disappointment and sad goodbyes.

But despite the challenges we may face when things don’t work out, I think it is important for us all to recognize when it is time for us to walk away — heartbreak aside.

With the obvious complications of dating culture, it becomes easy for us to fall into cycles of complacency. Dating isn’t easy, right? So if we find something that works, we often feel the need to hang on to it, even if, in time, it stops benefitting us the way it should.

Because with our fear of vulnerability, comes a fear of being alone. We may all claim to revel in our independence and freedom, but there will be always be times, fleeting or not, that we catch ourselves seeking the comfort of someone else.

Love and desire are fickle, confusing concepts and even the strongest of characters don’t always want to be alone.

But I contest; no fear of being alone should ever push you into settling for a relationship that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy. And sometimes the hardest relationships to walk away from are the ones that start to slowly slip through your fingers, without any obvious sign of the end.

Of course, always fight for what you love, be kind and be reasonable, but also don’t be afraid to ask yourself the tough questions about the relationships you dedicate yourself to, because your time and affection are valuable things. We can’t always be idealistic about love; at the end of the day, we need to be honest with ourselves in regards to what we need in someone else, and what we can give in return.

The harsh reality is, sometimes we find ourselves mourning the loss of a relationship that has long since ended. Both parties have checked out, but we still fight to maintain a love that has changed over time and moved on without us.

While this may be a hard truth to swallow, it is important to remember that it is entirely okay to miss someone who no longer belongs in your life. I promise you, life will go on for both of you.

There are times in which you may still care deeply for someone but you know, reluctantly or not, that you are simply not a good match for each other.

In some cases, we may love someone who no longer treats us in the way they should; but we hold on for fear of love lost. Sometimes, we think it’s better to remain in a relationship that is no longer whole, than be left on our own. But by doing this, we are cheating ourselves of a chance at the real thing.

In the end, the best thing we can do for each other is be fearlessly honest about it all, and allow ourselves and anyone we are with to grow and gain a better sense of what we, ultimately, need in someone else to be happy, even if that happiness will be granted by another.

We will always, at one point or another, love people who aren’t right for us. It’s all a part of the learning curve and while it leads to some romantic disappointment, it will never be the end of the world. It doesn’t mean we loved any less, or that our emotions failed us in any way. Part of learning to love, is learning how to gracefully let go of the things that aren’t right for you.

So, my point here is to place your romantic fears aside. Of course, this applies both to walking away from things that aren’t right for you in the end, and also pursuing those things you feel fiercely about.

But when things don’t work out, feel confident in your ability to pick yourself back up and move on, despite having to perhaps endure some sad days and sleepless nights. Choose to revel in the company of the constants in your life, and keep your eyes and heart open to everyone you meet. Learn to love yourself before you let someone else try to assume that role. Be yours, before you are anyone else’s.

Most importantly, as you navigate your way through relationships that work and those that don’t, never feel the need to wear your heartbreak on your sleeve and don’t let it harden you, because your past is not what defines you. What defines you is the way you continue forward with optimism, respect and high hopes for the future and what it has in store for you.

As Maya Angelou once said, “Love is that which holds us together. Love is that which liberates us all.” So if you ask me, never cut yourself short or settle when it comes to love, because the best is always yet to come.