Strong and independent aren't synonymous to hard and closed off. Yah, it took me a while to realize that too.
By Sara Utsugi
After your heart is broken, then comes the initial tendency to put up walls, making ourselves impenetrable and impossible to break, but with that, impossible to reach. We think that instead of risking heartbreak again, it’s easier to simply close ourselves off. We grow hard and disconnected, but we tell ourselves it’s for the best. We grow cynical towards love and relationships, hurting others around us, sometimes without even noticing. And by the time we’ve realized that our hardened hearts have really only hurt ourselves, it’s too late. We’ve pushed people away and tricked ourselves into thinking that love can only end in loss. After your heart is broken, it’s easy to close ourselves off, yes. But it’s only when we take off the bandaid, throw our arms open and invite the world in that our lives grow rich.
When I had my heart broken, I closed myself off to everyone, simply because I feared trusting someone with my heart again. I decided that if I never put anyone in a position where they could potentially hurt me, I’d never get hurt. Made sense in my mind. I was the most cynical person when it came to relationships. I told others that I was a “romantic turned realist,” and my pessimistic attitude soon became ingrained in me. I’d roll my eyes at couples and wonder how anyone could be so silly to trust a person with their all. And in time, I became unapologetically rock hard.
I’m sure some of you can relate. Maybe some of you are there right now; afraid of commitment and flighty when it comes to romance. I get it. You see, I think we trick ourselves into thinking that by building walls, we become strong and independent women; that by shutting people out, we hold onto our power, something today’s society applauds. But I want to redefine the strong and independent woman figure. Yes, I raise the strong independent woman. She is her own individual, confident in her skin and not afraid to show it. She is beautiful and inspiring; the kind of woman you imagine standing victorious with hands raised in the air. Yes, she is all of the above, but oftentimes, she is hard.
No, nothing is wrong with her. And yes, she is satisfied in her singleness, but she still gets lonely once in awhile. Of course she is independent. Of course she is strong, but that doesn’t mean she never needs others to lift her up. When we identify as strong, independent women, it doesn’t mean that we can’t open our hearts up to love. Our strength doesn’t mean that we have to hold everything on our own. It simply means that our community raised us into women who are able to hold our own. Our independence doesn’t mean that we don’t need others. It simply means that we are satisfied in ourselves, not needing others to define us. Strong and independent are not synonymous to closed and hardened. You can be a strong, independent woman who’s brave enough to break down her walls and let people in.
All this to say, life’s too short not to love. Yes, it is easier to shut people out, but our favorite stories evolve and grow when hearts are open and walls are broken. So here I am, a romantic turned “realist” turned pessimist turned whatever the hell I am now, opening my heart again not because the fear isn’t there, but because I refuse to let it hold me for any longer. I’m making the decision to let people in, because life is always fuller and brighter when it’s shared with others. Besides, what would life be without a few twists and turns along the way. Now go open those fat hearts of yours and be brave enough to learn to love again.
You have to be brave.
More articles to come on the initial healing process of a breakup, however, this is something I’m currently learning and experiencing. In the end, I want to keep my articles as real and raw as possible, so enjoy this slight segway in The Breakup Box.