They teach you how to break arms, curfews, promises and hearts. But they skip the fixing.
It’s never the same. It never heals the same. A part of you is always gonna walk around clutching the broken parts to your chest, worrying if someone brave will untangle your knotted forearms. Because at that moment, the illusion shatters.
You’ll never not be broken.
That’s what they say.
That’s what they want for you: a chest full of worry, a heart full of fear, a stomach full of anxiety.
But let me tell ya: it is something horrible to shuffle through Monday and Tuesday hoping Wednesday isn’t too welcoming and Thursday isn’t too truthful and Friday isn’t too free.
That’s a quiet life, a lonely life.
You’re going to break your arm. Fall off the bike. Twist your elbow hard into the pavement. Hold it loose against you.
It’s going to get better. You’ll learn to balance. You’ll learn to break. You’ll learn to push forward, wind at your back, head to the sky.
You’re going to break curfew. You’re going to be overly optimistic about the distance between his house and yours. Just one more kiss. Just five more minutes. And the clock will turn at the last red light. Your hands will tighten on the steering wheel, knuckles white. Inside, your dad will wait in his recliner, the post-game show on mute, and you’ll tip-toe inside, head ducked, waiting for the worst.
You’ll learn to leave sooner, to drive faster, to anticipate car accidents and construction zones and Saturday night police checkpoints that hold you up. You’ll never break curfew again, and it will be fine.
You’re going to break promises. To your little sister who needs help with her Spanish homework. To your mother who made you swear you’d drive straight home after your final exams to study more. You’re going to think whatever you’re doing instead is better, that betrayal is a strong word, that you deserve these moments in the sun and the McDonald’s parking lot and the trampoline in your best friend’s backyard. You deserve more than conjugated verbs and rolled r’s and pages of key terms for tomorrow’s test.
They’ll count on you; you won’t come through.
You’ll learn the emptiness of breaking those small promises. You’ll carry your guilt through the day and into the next. You’ll wonder if your sister finished her worksheet without you. You’ll learn to promise her ice cream and trips to Target and the movies until she’s embarrassed of you. You’ll learn she’ll someday be embarrassed by you.
You’re going to break hearts. It’ll only be a step away from the promises, but it’ll hurt worse. He’ll be at work or in his bedroom studying, and you’ll dump him through a text message. He’ll want more than you can give. You’ll reject his date because you’re only 15 and you’ve never been alone with a strange boy in a town that people whisper about and you’ll wonder what your life would be like if you’d gone bowling with him for an afternoon.
You’ll learn to apologize in diner booths and desolate parking lots. You’ll learn to look him in the eyes and say you are so very sorry. That being scared made you do terrible things. You’ll learn that hearts break because people die in car accidents, or move away, or leave for college, or graduate college, or stop answering your calls, and not all of those will be romantic losses. Not every crack will be a lost love story.
At some point, distant though it may be, you’ll discover that we all carry our broken parts in our chests. That breaking is easy, but learning from it isn’t. That you’ll always be the girl who fell down the stairs or left him standing in the pouring rain, but you won’t have to be ashamed forever.
You were young. You were learning. You were sorry. And broken? You were so much more than broken.
Most days, this blog gets the saddest search term referrals Google’s ever seen. These are the answers to the questions you’ve been asking of me.
Things I Learned In College
Four years is a millisecond in your life. Spend them doing everything you can to make yourself happy + fulfilled so that when it’s over, you don’t glorify it as the best time you had but the beginning of something even more real, true, and messy.
How To Write A Letter To Someone With Cancer
Start every sentence with “I love you.” Finish by telling them why. And in the middle, remind them of their strength. Even if they’re gone. Especially if they’re gone. Make yourself weep 15 years after the funeral with the honesty of words you know were true then and still true now. Cancer is the thing that wrecks us. Don’t let it wreck you preemptively.
It is just nerves, my darling. It’s just the symptoms of being too alive in a numb little world. Find a back road + a reliable tune to drum against your steering wheel cover. You’ll be OK.
Writing A Stellar Cover Letter
Tailor it to the job. Be honest. Share a piece of yourself.
Pep Talk For A Daughter’s Breaking Heart
Come see me. I have too many words for you.
What Are The Most Important Lessons You Learned In Your Career? Answer
It. Changes. (The career and the answer.)
How Do You Know When You Are Ready For Something
You don’t. Oh, child. You never will be until it hits you in the face.
I Don’t Know What’s Going To Happen In My Life
Same here, kid. Same here.
How To Feel Better When You’re Not Pretty
Remember that you’re beautiful. And that all the passion in the world is more beautiful than lined red lips and trim waistlines and perfectly curled ringlets rolling between your shoulders.
Important Lessons You Learn While Growing Up
It gets hard. You fall down. People die way too young. People die by accident. People die on purpose. People walk out of your life in the middle of drunken house parties and never come back. Sometimes, you’ve got to break your own heart. You are worth more than a 3 a.m. lonely hookup. Your fingers deserve to be held by someone who’s there when it gets hard to stay put. The last thing you want is a mother, but it’s the first thing you need.
You’ve got to do things that frighten and push you. You’ve got to run forward with a little reckless abandon and kiss the scars when things do go wrong if ever you want to see the shine.
What To Do When You’re Not Pretty
Watch this video. Cry ugly tears. Look in the mirror and smile.
Love Isn’t Easy Why
Because none of us are alike, and when we fall in love, it’s at a split second in our lives where we are the most in sync with an otherwise totally dissimilar human being. And we wake up in love but afraid because we see the cracks and crevices where we don’t align and have to find our way back to that moment. We have to want to find our way back to that moment. Not everyone does.
Reasons To Apologize
You were wrong.
I Like To Tell Myself Stories In My Head
Good. Write them down. And then, find someone to publish it.
And if you are among the hundreds and thousands of people who find yourself searching for quotes about body image or love letters to young girls, I hope you’ll pull up a chair and stay awhile. Because I have so many words for you, lurking in the space between each and every post. Those are topics I have learned to hold in my heart. They make me sing.
Today’s guest post is by Chelsea Tirrell, a girl who isn’t afraid to put her heart out onto the Internet — take it or leave it. I first found Chelsea through She’s The First, one of the first nonprofits to wholly hook my heart. Every time I read her blog, I feel like I’ve opened the middle of a novel and just started in on it. She also tweets, ‘case you were wondering.
“Girls are taught a lot of stuff growing up. If a guy punches you he likes you. Never try to trim your own bangs and someday you will meet a wonderful guy and get your very own happy ending. Every movie we see, every story we’re told implores us to wait for it, the third act twist, the unexpected declaration of love, the exception to the rule. But sometimes we’re so focused on finding our happy ending we don’t learn how to read the signs. How to tell from the ones who want us and the ones who don’t, the ones who will stay and the ones who will leave. And maybe a happy ending doesn’t include a guy, maybe… it’s you, on your own, picking up the pieces and starting over, freeing yourself up for something better in the future. Maybe the happy ending is… just… moving on. Or maybe the happy ending is this, knowing after all the unreturned phone calls, broken-hearts, through the blunders and misread signals, through all the pain and embarrassment you never gave up hope.”
After all of the romantic comedies I’ve seen. After all of the romance novels I’ve read. After all of the fairytales I’ve swooned over. After all of the reality and drama TV shows I’ve watched. After all of the relationship articles I’ve read in trendy magazines. There has never been a more true and trying quote than the one above.
“He’s Just Not That Into You” nailed every emotion I’ve ever felt, every reality I’ve ever faced, and every ounce of honesty I’ve ever needed.
It’s true; girls are taught a lot of stuff growing up. From the age of fairytales when we’re taught that a chivalrous prince in shining armor is meant to come and save us to the age of preschool when we’re taught that if he throws sand at you, he’s flirting, we’re given the wrong message.
Why aren’t there tales about Cinderella, who finds her own glass slipper and escapes her wretched family on her own will? Why are we taught to ignore the good guys making us crafts in preschool? Why can’t we accept their generosity instead of being taught at such a young age that rudeness is the key to a flourishing relationship?
Maybe it’s because we’re young and naïve that we believe these things. Maybe we just don’t know any better. But as time goes on and we do, in fact, get older, we have to face the facts that we’re still buying into the nonsense. Every aspect of the media tells us what our happy ending needs to be. No movie is complete without a couple happily together, no article is well-researched unless it tells you how to perfect your relationship, no story is a captivating one if it doesn’t include some heart-stopping romance.
We’re unintentionally taught that we need a man to be happy.
And I have to admit: I’m no different than any of you. I fell for it too. I still fall for it. But it’s these unattainable realities that have broken my past relationships and put a strain on my current one.
I still remember the first time I was denied. I slid over to a boy, Nico, in the first grade and gave him a kiss on the cheek. Almost immediately, he moved away. He didn’t want me but I didn’t give up. I thought his rejection was a signal that I should try harder. But that only ended in a heartbreak. It always does.
When middle school came along, I struggled with the same thing. You were cool if you had a boyfriend. I was happy with my two-week long romances and overjoyed when boys would ask me to dance. But it also led me to desperation. I would ask one boy out, he’d say no. I’d ask another, he’d say no too. This trend continued and continued until it finally shot my confidence into the ground.
How could this be happening? I thought when they were mean it meant they liked me? That wasn’t the case. Still, I wanted the jerk. The jerk was the one everyone wanted.
High school was a bit better but only because I met a guy who saw beyond my desperation, my awkward puberty stage, and my infatuation with finding love. His name was Ryan.
He sat through countless conversations with me as I ranted about how badly I wanted a relationship. He heard all about my passionate crushes and how I thought they’d last forever. He listened when I was sulking after every heartbreak.
And then there came a day when both he and I had enough. I was tired of being hurt, he was tired of my complaining. And he told me something that I never forgot, “You’re going to get older and you’re going to come into yourself. You’re going to figure out who you are and everyone is going to start chasing after you. You need to give yourself confidence.”
Little did I know, he’d be right.
Ryan and I tried the “relationship” thing out but it didn’t work. For once, though, I wasn’t torn up about it. It just seemed right that we parted ways. He went to college, I went to college and just like he said, everything fell into place.
I didn’t want every guy I laid eyes upon but I fell, and I fell hard, for Andrew. He was everything I wanted in guy. He was older, smart, involved, good-looking, sweet, caring. He also had a girlfriend.
I respected that at first but after hearing him rant about how unhappy he was in his relationship, I took the opportunity to make my move. It seemed to be working in my favor. Eventually, him and his girlfriend broke up and it seemed like we were on our way to something.
Finally, I told myself. Finally, I found a guy who wants me. My years of desperation are over.
That was short lived. Andrew lied to me. Andrew wasn’t who I thought he was. He hadn’t broken up with his girlfriend, he was still with her. And he wasn’t just seeing her and me at the same time — he was also seeing two other girls. Maybe more.
There wasn’t any heartbreak like it.
But that didn’t stop me. I was determined to cut him out of my life and move on to someone better. I was still in love with love and was determined to find someone who wouldn’t play me like he had.
We were friends before anything and usually, they tell you, that’s how the best relationships start. I was ready for this. A sweet, passionate, different guy who was so determined to have me. I gave him my love.
Just three months later, he shattered it.
Jay was my first real boyfriend. I was so excited to shout it out to the world, to let everyone know that I was no longer the single girl everyone expected me to be. I’d found something special. I was humiliated when I had to retract all of that happiness when he broke up with me out of nowhere. I thought we were happy. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
When you’re young, everything feels like the end of the world. I was 20 so naturally, I thought my dating life was over. I’d seen nothing but heartbreak, rejection, and people deciding that there was always someone better than I was.
Somehow, despite all that, I was still determined that I was meant for love. There was no way that someone with the capacity as large as mine to love would be left in this world without it. I was hurting but for me, my happy ending wasn’t knowing that I still had the chance to find love. My happy ending was exactly what the quote read. It was knowing that despite the break-ups, the over-thinking, the lost confidence, the hours of crying, the moments of thinking you’re unworthy, and the notion that you’ll be alone forever, I still believed in love.
I wasn’t bitter or angry for what they’d done to me. I wasn’t going around, saying I was single and loving every second of it. I didn’t swear off men. I kept my heart open and not once was I ashamed that I loved love.
And maybe that belief – that love exists despite every messy minute of relationships – is what led me to Louis.
When I met him, I didn’t know if I was ready for another relationship. I didn’t know if he was worthy of loving someone like me. I didn’t know if I wanted to give him a chance. But Louis did something that no other guy did – he stuck with me. He didn’t give up until I understood that he wasn’t like everyone else. He didn’t let me look past him just because he was a nice guy. He fought for me. And after months and months of uncertainty, I gave that patient boy what he was waiting for: my heart.
Almost a year has gone by since we had our first night together. It’s been about nine months since we’ve “officially” been together. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.
It’s not something that came out of nowhere, though. We need our past relationships to teach us, to make us stronger, to remind us of who we were and who we are now.
It took me a while to realize that I was partially responsible for my break-ups. It wasn’t just the guys’ fault. It takes two. My problem? I was trying too hard to be perfect.
I wanted the magazine relationship. I wanted the movie romance. I wanted the novel love. I expected my man to be a certain way. I wanted him to be exactly like the cardboard cutout we’re told to expect. I got angry when I didn’t have that. I was busy being someone I wasn’t to fit the mold of a perfect girlfriend. But that sort of mentality really breaks you.
I’ve weaned myself off of magazines. I’ve come to terms with the term “fiction.” And though I’m still a sucker for a good Nicholas Sparks’ film, I’ve learned to look at the films from a different point of view: Their love is the way it is because it suits them.
The moral of this post isn’t to scare you away from trying to be perfect. It isn’t to tell you that there is love after hurt. It isn’t to try and convince you that I’m an expert in love just because it’s consumed me.
While all of those things may reign true, what’s most important for you to take from all of this is to believe. Don’t let anyone – an ex, a best friend, a family member, a teacher, a boss – tell you to stop looking for love. Don’t let them tell you that you’re pathetic or desperate. Don’t let anyone change your mind or discourage you.
It’s hard, it’s work, it’s stress, it’s worry, it’s nerves, it’s anxiety, it’s uncertainty. But when you have it, and I mean when you really have it, there is nothing more amazing, more beautiful, more satisfying, more comforting, more wonderful, more spell-binding, more fairytale-romcom-romance novel-worthy than love.
Don’t ever lose your hope. Not for a second. Not when something like this is waiting for you. Everyone is worthy of it. Yes, even you.
Some nights, I eat over the kitchen sink. And in that act of mindlessly tipping cereal dust into my mouth, a thought once surfaced.
It was the kind of thought that, once born, can never be unborn:
I broke him first.
Somewhere inside my brain, a once-dormant synapse has just learned to bridge the gap. My protective instincts have worn down.
I know it; I cannot un-know it.
It’s one of three moments in my life that I refuse to speak of out loud.
Before the fallout, before sneaky scale readings and hospital gowns, there was just a text message that didn’t deserve to see the light of day.
Back then, we had flip phones. Steve had too many jobs, didn’t have time to invent the iPhone.
I was curled into my best friend’s butterfly chair, listening with intention as she rationalized my breakup for me. Blink-182 stirred rebellion into me. She never stopped to look at me, just folded laundry and told me horrible lies.
He doesn’t really like you. He just wants to sleep with you as soon as possible and dump you and tell all his friends. This isn’t going anywhere. It’s just a summer hookup.
They were the kind of lies told only in movies with girls who wore pink leather miniskirts. The truth, I later learned, was she loved him.
But I was scared + so I sent a text message to a boy in red shorts + a white shirt with a whistle around his tanned neck. I don’t even remember what it said, but for days, he couldn’t look at me.
And when he did, finally, agree to talk, he told me it was the worst thing any one of those girls had done to him, and he’d been trampled on a lot. Just walked over.
I never got over that; I never forgave myself.
For years, my brain didn’t even allow itself to process that.
Maybe it’s not fair, but my mother once took her fingertips and labeled them with the boys I’d rejected until I realized that saying no was something I had to move away from.
So I set up camp in the Say Yes category. Say yes when you’re scared but excited. Say yes when you’re pretty sure. Say yes when to do so would only make you better, only make you stronger.
It didn’t take me more than a few minutes to realize I’d done something cruel, unspeakable, unforgivable, in breaking some boy’s heart while he sat stirring with anger on the side of a chlorinated pool and saved drowning kids.
It’s too much to break someone’s heart via text message; it’s too much to break someone’s heart at work; it’s just not okay to break someone’s heart via text message at work.
It was cowardly; I know that now.
It was the farthest thing from brave.
It was based on a web of lies + manipulation.
It does not deserve to happen to anyone.
It was the first lesson I learned about being in love, about holding someone’s heart in my hands, but it won’t be the last. And it won’t easily be outshined.
When we begin, we go all-in. We set up camp in the Say Yes category and we own every single action we take because the human heart is fragile, but thankfully, resilient when it wants to be.