Being a woman in my twenties I’ve dealt with different types of relationships, friendships and people. It was not until recently that I was forced to learn about “self” and how important it is to get to know and become engulfed in you.

I started dating in highschool. My first “real” boyfriend was when I was a junior. When you’re that age you are obsessed with your significant other. You see forever, you can’t imagine being with anyone else. But eventually you break up and your whole world comes crashing down. You’re devastated and feel as if you can’t live without them. As an adult, all that devastating depressing shit you thought of during that high school break up is easy to laugh at, you think to yourself: girl, you were so dramatic. I wish I could say the same for myself. The truth is that that feeling of helplessness and depression came back into my life during the end of a recent relationship... despite that though, the outcome has been that I am now more in-tune with my emotions and maturing as a woman and I want to share my story with you.

My ex and I had this vibe between us that was unmatched! And I found myself swimming in it. I felt like a kid in high school all over again. The relationship lasted three years, all while I was in college. Being with him exposed me to so many things. I met new people, I grew in ways I never had before.

When we stopped seeing each other all those feelings of devastation I once felt as a teen came crashing into me. That feeling I talked about after a breakup-- I felt. Life after a breakup is so difficult to deal with, regardless of the length of time spent in that relationship. I went down a dark place and started to use alcohol to cover up the pain. I would find myself drinking 3 or 4 times a week and blacking out, hung over the next day… still feeling drunk. There were times I would get fucked up and wake up in the middle of the day the following afternoon. My choices were like a tornado destroying and causing havoc through my life. I started lashing out on people around me and had this paranoid feeling that people were against me and I couldn’t trust anyone.

Drinking started to take a toll on my body, my stress levels rose and health issues followed. I finally realized I had to do better and remove the vice I had created from my life. I had to find a different way  to mend my feelings while staying sober. After a breakup, you're forced to almost re-invent yourself and learn how to operate as a new solo act. It’s as if after walking your entire life without any issues you get injured, and have to learn to walk again. Imagine how stressful and painful that is. That's how I felt.

This is when my journey to  a better self started. I began reading a book called “You Are a Badass, How to Stop Doubting Yourself and Start Living an Awesome Life” by Jen Sincero. This book literally changed my outlook on life and helped me through what has been one of the toughest times in my adulthood. When you’re in a relationship it is so easy to become lost in that person and live only for them. Your needs, wants and expectations are put on the back burner. This book taught me how to love myself and brought me out of the drunken darkness I was sitting in. I had to learn how to walk again. I had to learn who I was, and rediscover joy in the things I loved. I had to learn how to grow as a person. I never really understood what people meant when they said “you learn from pain” until now.  I saw this opportunity to fill up the time I would be spending with him, with things that only could benefit me. 

I’m using this time to reinvent myself, learn how to love myself above anyone else and learn how to be accountable for my own actions. I’m doing things that help me flourish. I’m using this time to become a better woman, a better daughter, sister, friend and future lover. This journey to self is helping me reestablish who I am before anything/anyone else. I spend more time with my family and I spend less time with people who drain my energy. I surround myself and talk to people who I know only have my best interest in mind. I worry less about others and I am taking chances in creating a better life for myself while pursuing what I love. I’m learning that my time is important, so I need to be SELFish with my love, light, and presence.

Once I become the woman I want to be, I pray to have a love that is passionate, equal, and full of support. I pray for the type of love that I haven’t even imagined yet. I hope my story serves as an example to anyone who needs a reminder that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I believe that the universe rewards you with what your heart needs and desires, but only when the timing is right. So while my timing comes, I'm going to keep working on myself and the things I want. I hope you do too.

-Rashida Sannoh

(image credit: Robin Eisenberg)