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Turn around, step forward

Courtesy of Alexis Schlesinger

By Alexis Schlesinger

Editorial Staff

When I talk to my mom about things from the past, she always tells me there’s no use in hanging onto them. She says I think too much.

“I understand, but thinking about it is just going to make you feel worse. It won’t solve anything.”

I’m sure at least some of you reading this have seen the quote that reads “everything I let go of has claw marks on it.”

That’s how I used to feel about a lot of things in my life. Like any teenage girl, I’ve been through breakups, had friends leave me, missed opportunities.

My first breakup left me torn up. I just couldn’t believe it had happened, even though he had me crying over him for months leading up to when he finally dumped me. I couldn’t let go of the good times. 

We were still “friends” for a few months after we broke up. About a week after we had broken up, we talked, and started eating lunch together with our mutual friends like normal.

But it wasn’t right.

I couldn’t let go of my feelings for him, and hanging around him all the time didn’t help. Unable to get over my ex, I lost my chance with someone else really amazing, someone I really liked. 

I drifted apart from them after what happened between us. I still think of both of them often. 

Flash forward to starting college. I had gotten especially close to a group of friends the summer before my first semester.  

I was scared to leave them behind, especially since I happened to be dating one of them. 

However, a few weeks into my first semester, I learned to lean into the change. I learned that I didn’t need to hold so tightly onto what once was. 

Loosening my grip on the past helped me realize what was right in front of me. I started meeting new people and trying new things, and I felt more fulfilled than I ever had in my life. 

Feeling stable and content in my new community, I was able to find the guts to finally break up with my now ex-boyfriend. It was something I had almost done months ago, after what happened one night at our friend’s house.

I just didn’t want to be alone. I was scared that letting go of him would leave me without my closest friends. 

In a way I was right. Some of them chose him. 

But I was OK. 

I was honestly surprised at myself for being able to let go of things. But I had my friends, and I had a community. I was still fulfilled and happy, if not more so. Letting go hadn’t harmed me the way I thought it would. 

This isn’t to say that letting go is synonymous to throwing away. You keep small parts of your people and your experiences with you. You might keep them in your memories, or next to your heart. You might keep them in the Polaroid on your mirror, or the beads in your pocket. 

That being said, I’ve learned there’s no reason to give yourself rope burns dragging a lassoed stone.

I encourage you to turn around. Turn your back completely, for just a moment, without being afraid that what’s behind you will disappear. 

Your past will not cease to exist. 

It doesn’t have to be easy. It’s OK to look over your shoulder. 

You can acknowledge the footprints you’ve left in the wet cement.  

To quote my favorite band - “With melancholy, and a little grief, we might find peace … I am lucky to have lost you.”  


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