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Tassneen Bashir / Senior Staff Illustrator

I returned to school in September desperately clinging to the slippery kite tails of a summer romance. It was puppy love. Long distance wasn’t ideal, but by the end of summer, I figured that with the right person, anything was possible. And let’s get real—I was so infatuated that I threw all logic to the wind. When I stepped onto the jet bridge to board my flight from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, I was sure that I’d return home to him in December happier, stronger, and more devoted than ever.

Of course, for a plethora of possible reasons that I’ve re-analyzed too many times to count, it didn’t last. Maybe it was the distance complication, or we weren’t stable enough, or that he wasn’t ready. Maybe I was too much, too fast, or maybe we just wanted different things. Inevitably, whatever was between us had ended, as much as I wanted to deny it. One day, we were laughing for hours and hours on FaceTime and the next, he was leaving me on read. I now had to accept the fact that I’d been ready (and, even during the heartbreak, still was) to give my all to this person—a person who, ultimately, had refused to ever define our relationship.

Then came the waterworks. I spent far more time lying in bed and crying than I’d like to admit. One day, my crying even impeded me from taking a nap. (I’m still quite upset about this, because I was tired and only had a couple hours between classes.)

Funnily enough, however, it was through these days of on-and-off tears that my connections to my suitemates, my friends, and peers grew stronger and deeper. This ridiculous emotional whirlwind included (but was not limited to) deliberate posting on my Instagram story to provoke jealousy and the implementation of all my willpower to not watch his. Throughout, the people around me truly proved the depth of their compassion, not to mention their endurance. They were painstakingly, utterly patient with me as I struggled through every recurring wave of rage, confusion, and dejection. Deep in the midst of midterm madness, still, they found time to open their ears, their arms, and their hearts.

I’d always known that friendships were important, but the hopeless romantic in me dreamed that I’d found the ever-fabled pivotal and lifelong companionship in this seemingly perfect partner. In reality, though, this unconditional support was right in front of me, in my existing platonic relationships. I’d simply been too infatuated to look and my vision too clouded to see.

Even during this “relationship,” I found myself leaning heavily on my suitemates, sorority sisters, and best friends. One night, I was working through some family drama. Of course, I wanted to turn to him, but he gave excuse after excuse for why he was busy. He kept me waiting for three days, and during those three days, my friends were the ones who showed up to lend listening ears, to reassure me of their support, and to remind me of my own strength. It was then that I should have realized just how right New Girl’s Nick Miller was: “The only thing that matters is if they’re there for you when you need them.”

I remember waking up one morning and shuffling out to the kitchen, my eyes still bleary from sleep. My suitemate was brewing her daily cup of coffee. She looked up, murmured good morning, and asked how I was doing. I immediately burst into tears. Like, full on, gasping, hiccupping, chest-heaving, unable-to-form-words sobbing. She hugged me so, so hard and then declared that she was going to tuck me back into bed. She fluffed my pillow, handed me my stuffed panda, pulled my blanket up to my chin, and did just that.

During the next few weeks, in which my emotions were extremely up and down, I rediscovered stability through my friendships. Some mornings, I felt great, but come the afternoon, all I wanted to do was mope around in bed. Unproductivity crept in full force; I swear one day I just scrolled through Twitter for three hours and completely ignored all of my schoolwork. My friends were always around, readily equipped with the warmest hugs and the most encouraging words. They offered to bring me anything I needed and gently, yet firmly, reminded me that I couldn’t simply throw my academics to the wind. Through a tempered combination of gentle compassion and tough love, they provided the perfectly balanced and stable support I needed to remedy my ever-fluctuating, emotionally unkempt state.

One afternoon, during what I now refer to as “That Time Last October That I Practically Flooded The Suite With Tears”, I returned home from class to find six blue post-it notes stuck on the wall above my bed. Hand-written on each was a motivational quote; the sixth was a complete playlist that my roommate had jotted down for me in green ink. Once I finished reading them, I found myself crying once again. This time, though, my tears weren’t a product of lack of love, but of an excess of it.

Through the trauma of heartbreak, I realized that the people whom I desire to surround myself with are those who draw near not only when I’m at my best, but who choose to stay when I’m at my worst.

The author is a junior at Barnard studying English and creative writing. She, a true Pisces Jupiter, believes vulnerability is the key to human connection and thus charges forth, afraid yet oddly determined to bare her ass* to the whole world on Spectator. You can get in touch with her by emailing, by adding her on Co-Star, or by sliding into her DMs on Instagram. *(read: her heart)

Love, Actualized is a weekly op-ed series on love, sex, and dating at Columbia. To respond to this piece, or to submit to Love, Actualized, contact

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