BY ANNA MCALPINE
I love being in love. I love the stability and affection that comes from a long-term relationship. I have never been well suited to short-term connections facilitated by drunken nights at Stages, and although I am lucky to know this about myself, it means that I have dealt with plenty of heartbreak in my 19 years.
My first real breakup came when I was 16 outside of a TTC station near my house. It was painful and shocking and I cried the whole walk home. Once there, I ate an entire jar of peanut butter – my ex was allergic to nuts. I cried to my mom over dinner, and swiftly decided that was that. Following that first heartbreak, I got my first part-time job, began working with Plan Canada’s Because I am a Girl initiative, and dipped my toes into the creative community by applying to be Social Media Director at a by-youth-for-youth publication in Toronto. These opportunities were crucial to my development, and I can confidently say that had I not been searching for something to replace my relationship, I would not have pursued them at that time.
My second heartbreak was a couple years later during my frosh week at Queen’s. It was evident to my high school boyfriend that long distance was not for us; this was much less evident to me. He broke up with me on a Sunday morning over the phone and my hungover roommate woke up to my very unpleasant scream-crying. After a trip to Toronto to hash it out in person and a phone call with my therapist, I was ready to start over. Post-breakup #2, I took up pottery, applied for my current position at MUSE, discovered my love of podcasts, and participated in Queen’s Model Parliament – where I found my biggest love yet.
As I write this, I am back on my parents’ couch in Toronto recovering from my third heartbreak in four years. It is too early to know if this will be forever, what will follow, or how it will shape me. Through talking to a good friend while lying in bed the day following this breakup, she pointed out a pattern that I had never noticed before: I thrive following heartbreak. For me, heartbreak is an opportunity. It forces me to examine my life and act on all of the things that I consider doing during my relationships, yet never feel motivated enough to do.
On the train ride home to Toronto, following my most recent heartbreak, I travelled home in search of a big hug and some motherly advice. I didn’t stare wistfully out the window listening to Adele; I redid my Linkedin profile and applied to summer internships. That’s not to say that there weren’t tears, days spent in bed, or lengthy Sex and the City marathons (I will always count on Carrie Bradshaw for valuable relationship insight). There are going to be drunk texts, sleepless nights, and loneliness in the weeks and months to come, but I’m ready for those because the opportunities that heartbreak forces me to pursue have oftentimes proven more valuable than the lessons learned in my relationships themselves.
So, my advice to any new single is this: take time to grieve, but also say yes to every opportunity, try everything, and to put yourself out there. New opportunities lend themselves to growth and will make you all the more confident, attractive, and interesting when your next love comes along – which, believe me, will happen sooner than you believe. So, let’s trade that pint of ice cream for a paintbrush, and get back in the ring.
Anna McAlpine is the Head of Events for MUSE Magazine.