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How To Reclaim Your Time After A Bad Breakup

Love & Relationships

Mariah Carey never walked down the aisle with ex-fiancé James Packer, yet somehow still secured a healthy 50-million dollar bag. Due to the split, Ms. Carey felt owed an "inconvenience fee," legal jargon for "you wasted my time."


Mariah Carey didn't just want an inconvenience fee to be petty, although I'm sure that was part of it. She, like many of us after a tough breakup, felt owed something. Anything.

When the relationship ends, we want ALL the things back. From that old, red scarf we left on their couch 6 months ago, to our peace of mind. We want it back. We want - nay, deserve! - an explanation. Or at the very least, some semblance of closure. But what we really want, and what typically doesn't register until much later, is security. Feeling secure in who we are without the special someone beside us is important. We need to know that we will be alright on our own.

While us mere mortals lack the means to gain financially from a breakup, it does bring up an interesting idea of reclaiming what is rightfully ours once the tears have dried.

How do we reclaim our sense of self after giving so much of it to someone else?

Building a relationship is time-consuming. We make a choice to open our hearts, to peel the layers of our most intimate selves, and to share our energy with another human being. We become so engrossed in our relationship that me becomes we. Therefore, it's only natural that once a relationship ends, particularly one that ends badly, that we mourn the loss of ourselves just as much as the loss of our significant other.

After the initial sadness dissipates, anger generally follows. That's where the gut punch happens. That's when we realize the last couple of months or years were overwhelmingly shaped by our connection and closeness to another person. And now it's over. And then we ask ourselves, "Was all of that a total waste? Should I have responded to more DMs?"

Gaining back that sense of self requires unpacking what we have "lost."

We're forced to rediscover ourselves as well as the other relationships or interests that we may have unintentionally put on the back burner. Because let's be honest, being boo'd up can give you tunnel vision. Road trips with besties get replaced with baecations and all of a sudden we're watching more Sunday Night Football and less TGIT. (Okay, no one would give up their weekly dose of Shonda shows for a man, but you get my drift).

So now that we're in our own company, let's examine what made us feel full before and jump to get back there. Here are some steps to regaining that confidence:

Spend Quality Time with Yourself

According to a Huffington Post article in 2014, 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. dread being alone. This statistic, while startling, is understandable. Having a partner is a wonderful and natural part of the human experience. But the single life is truly underrated.

Once we're single, our days belong to us! We should push ourselves to do activities on our own. And no, binge-watching Stranger Things does not count. It may seem awkward to dine at a nice restaurant or to go see a good movie solo, but doing so helps us understand our innermost self. We get to forgo our dependence on someone else's presence and instead embrace the person inside.

There is power in solitude.

The key is to love your own company so much that the addition of a significant other is a bonus, not a necessity.

Rekindle Your Friendships

As we're getting more acquainted with ourselves, make the effort to re-acquaint with your tribe. No one wants to be the girl who totally drops her friends the minute she gets a man. But whether we mean to do it or not, our girls inevitably become secondary characters to our love stories. So it's time to promote them back to the main stage.

A good group of girlfriends is crucial. They will cry with us, dance with us, sing badly to the radio with us. We can eat pizza, ice cream, and cookies together - at once - without judgement. They will listen to us voice our fears, our insecurities, our hopes, and our dreams, only to be hugged and uplifted in the end.

The love of a great friend is immeasurable.

So, we should return that immeasurable love back.

Don't Fake Happy

Now that the relationship is over, we have a responsibility to start making healthy, selfish decisions.

Unfortunately, what we do far too often is create the illusion that we're thriving post-breakup. A good friend of mine, weeks after a particularly bad breakup, decided to throw a house party in hopes her ex would show up. He didn't. Instead, she saw him snapping his life away and popping bottles at the club with girls he most likely just met. We won't reclaim our time with ostentatious displays of happiness.

True happiness is not performance art.

Remember YOU Decide Your Self-Worth

I know, I know. "You can't love someone else without loving yourself" is an adage as old as it is cliche. But this maxim holds true for a reason.

A breakup can really injure an ego. Depending on the circumstance, we may blame ourselves for the unraveling of our relationship and question what we have to offer. Our self-esteem often gets compromised by the sudden lack of romantic love. But our self-worth shouldn't be shaped through the lens of someone else.

The only person to decide our value is us.

We are the only ones in charge of our joy, our peace, and our self-confidence. We must remind ourselves daily that no love holds more weight than the love we have for ourselves.

Although it may seem otherwise, after a breakup, we have to accept the idea that our time was not wasted at all. What we had with that person was real. The laughs, the memories, and the love shared shouldn't be disregarded. Rather, they should propel us to the next level of self-discovery. While our ex owes us nothing, we owe it to ourselves to be the priority.

Ultimately, we must rediscover our sense of self and, in the words of Auntie Maxine Waters, reclaim our time.

Featured image by Giphy

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A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

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She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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