Welcome to our special section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus). We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.

On December 31st, 2019, I got my heart broken.

As the clock turned 12 and fireworks welcomed another year, I shed painful tears lying in bed. With a heavy heart, I eventually dozed off and woke up in the middle of the night feeling numb and shattered.

This isn’t my first heartbreak, but it felt 10 times worse than the previous. Thoughts ran through my mind in lightning speed, analyzing every minor detail of what happened and why it happened. I asked myself how can everything feel so right one moment and feel completely wrong the next? Why wasn’t I enough? How can I become enough?

Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

So I vowed to never love another person again. Even if love knocked at my doorstep and begged me to answer, I promised myself I wouldn’t open. When you are faced with tragedy, the body reacts to emotional pain with physical expressions. Everything slowly faded into the background and all I felt is the hollow inside my stomach and a constant tug at my heart. I spent long hours in bed and lost my appetite, and therefore a couple pounds in the span of two days. Today I drove without a destination and parked at an empty lot to scream and bawl my eyes out. And then watched the cars on the road pass by, reminding me that the world is not going to stop just because I’m hurting right now. The rest of the world will selfishly move on, and so should you.

This isn’t my first heartbreak. I’ve experienced loss in many ways throughout my life. I like to consider myself an expert at this point. I may as well receive a certificate and highlight it under the “skills” section of my resume.

After countless hours of self-reflection and journaling, I concluded that at the peak of my becoming, this recent event has left me feeling weak, yet still empowered. Because I walked away from a person that made me feel like I needed to change and mold myself into becoming somebody that I am not. Everything that I am, all that I have built from scratch is part of my identity. My roots, my culture, my adversities make up my heart and soul, yet here I was feeling as if those parts of me weren’t worthy of being loved. My ability to feel emotions intensely and being an empath were written off as “annoying” and “too much to handle.” That was enough for me to know I must walk away, even if it hurts right now. Love doesn’t pick and choose parts of you to cherish; love celebrates every particle of your existence and pours honey into your little cracks. Love doesn’t make you feel small, it doesn’t tell you who you should be in order to be accepted. Love encourages your uniqueness and holds your hand through the darkness.

I didn’t emigrate to a foreign land at the age of 6, have parents that sacrificed everything for my upbringing, and face countless obstacles only to have another person make me feel as if those very parts of me aren’t welcomed into their life. I will never apologize for having emotions, for expressing them. And I won’t allow another person to make me feel as though I need to change in order to be accepted.

I vowed to never love another person again — because the person I will be loving this year is myself! I may have gotten knocked down once again, but I am ready to get back up on my feet.

Remind to yourself: Be unapologetically you, and don’t explain yourself to somebody that never understood your magic in the first place.  

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More on Mental Health on Campus:

What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need

If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help

The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis