Why You Should Never Let A Relationship Dictate Your Life

What’s love got to do with it?

I’m not a writer. I’m just a girl. Standing in front of a very tall building. Wondering how I got here.

Let’s back up.

A little about me: I’m a 23 year-old recent college grad from Los Angeles. I have roots in New York City; my parents met here, most of my family lives here, and many of my friends went to school here. I figured that for a young 20-something with a passion for fashion, the decision to move to NYC after graduation was already made for me. I thought, “this is a life I can live.”

The question I never stopped to ask myself, though, is, “is this the life I WANT to live?”

One detail I left out in my brief description above is that I have the one-two punch combo of anxiety and depression. After graduating from college, I figured that life would fall into place. I had a girlfriend, I had an internship, then a great first job, I found a great apartment with a great roommate, and I had friends and family in the city for support, but something was off.

Coming from LA, where the sun is always shining, the birds are always chirping, and the sky isn’t shrouded by buildings, NYC was a change. It’s an adjustment to go from having a backyard to barely seeing greenery, especially in the winter time, and it takes a toll on one’s (my) mental health.

While I definitely had my career in mind when deciding to move to NYC, my main motivating factor was that my girlfriend was from the city. She’s two years younger than me, so we would have to do the long-distance thing while she finished school. But when you’re in love, you can defeat anything, right? Well, that’s what I thought anyway. Turns out that distance is a bitch. She was studying abroad in Jordan, and I was trying to start my life in a city that, while was not new to me, felt completely foreign. My anxiety worsened as our relationship grew more strenuous. Trying to video chat became like pulling teeth. I was glued to my phone because it was the only way I could feel connected to her. It affected the way I worked and the way I lived. I shut myself in to avoid any and all temptation, because at the end of the day, I was “taken.” I would wake up with dread in the form of knots in my stomach, go to work, come home, and veg out on my couch until it was time to go to sleep and repeat the cycle. It was not living, it was surviving.

My girlfriend and I had been apart for four months when she finally came back around Christmas time. The plans we’d made for when she got back were all that were getting me through my days. And then, the impossible happened: the day after we finally reunited, she dumped me. She’d fallen for a woman in Jordan.

I was broken. No, I take that back. I was angry. I hated her for doing this to me. I hated her for making me wait through four terrible months just for this to be the result. I hated that I still loved her, despite all the pain she caused me. But most of all, I hated her for being my reason for moving to New York.

I always knew I’d be happier on the West coast, but I had faith in my relationship. I put aside my gut instincts for the sake of love. I didn’t put myself first. If I had, maybe our relationship would’ve ended earlier than it had, or maybe it wouldn’t have ended at all. There’s no way to know, but what I do know is that I put something else in front of my own personal happiness, and that is something I will never do again.

I left my job to do some good ol’ fashioned millennial-style soul searching. Where do I want to live? What do I want to do? What will make me happy? How can I learn to be alone? All valid questions with very complicated not-so-easy-to-find answers. I’m still on my “journey” to find what will bring me joy. This time, though, I’m going to find it solo.