Small campus setting magnifies pain of a breakup

Kathryn Kafka

The dreaded moment is finally here. You’re walking through the Quad, alone of course, when you see him-the boy who just broke up with you last week. He is rapidly approaching, surrounded by every single one of his friends like a menacing pack of wolves. Even though there is no wind, his hair is somehow flowing by the magical force of an invisible breeze. Did he get a haircut? You knew he would look better with short hair, and of course he waited until now to finally do so. You are sure he got his hair cut at the place that you suggested, too. How did he manage to be walking with the entire student body when you are obviously alone? Seriously, it’s like he enlisted every single person who he has ever made eye contact with to accompany him on his excursion through the Quad. Plus, is he wearing a new shirt? You wonder who could have possibly given it to him because you’re brutally aware of the fact that he is incapable of purchasing his own clothing.  Also, why is he still wearing the watch you gave him for your one-year anniversary? As you continue to walk towards each other, your heartbeat increases, and your hands begin to sweat profusely, fearing the inevitable judgment of the ex-boyfriend crew. Your mind is clouded by a plethora of panicked thoughts. Why you didn’t put makeup on that morning? Why did you choose not to shower before class? Why did you wear workout clothes today? Everyone knows you rarely exercise. Most importantly, you ask yourself, “Where are my friends?” Probably in class-how unsupportive of them. You pray to every higher being for an invisibility cloak. Religious or not, you even resort to making desperate pleas to God. You promise you’ll donate money to the next philanthropy table outside the Oreo. You guarantee that you’ll never miss Sunday mass ever again-even if a “Grey’s Anatomy” marathon is on. You’ll stop eating quesadillas at 3 a.m., and you will definitely never intentionally sleep through your morning class ever again. Most of all, you promise that you’ll pray every night and you will call your parents every day-anything to make this situation disappear. But for some reason, your wish is not immediately granted. Clearly, all hope is lost and you are forced to face the unfortunate reality that you have no option but to continue walking forward. This simply leads to the next series of bombarding thoughts, each ultimately asking the vital question: will you say hi? Breakups themselves are awful enough. They’re often riddled with painfully awkward clichés, each unsuccessfully attempting to soften the heartbreaking notion that someone no longer wants to be with you. Even if the breakup is mutual, the relationship that ensues is nothing less than unbearably uncomfortable because remaining friends following the demise of a romantic partnership is nearly impossible. Regardless of how much effort each person puts into such a forced bond, it simply does not work out amicably. Jealousy or unfulfilled expectations unescapably result in an additional type of breakup which ends the friendship entirely. Although they may be arduous, breakups at least have a clearly dictated protocol to follow. But what comes after is much more opaque. When ending a relationship, it is easy, and even most effective, to sugarcoat the true root of the issues in order to avoid hurt feelings and confrontation. However, this incites the proliferation of much more dangerous emotions such as hatred and resentment which cause occurrences similar to the aforementioned encounter in the quad. Rejection is one of the most difficult things to accept in life, especially when it involves someone that you have formed a deep emotional attachment to. So do you face it head on or do you duck your head and scamper past? When faced with such a seemingly traumatizing situation, it is important to remember the intrinsic value of radiating confidence. Sure, you may think you look like you just climbed out of the sewer like the fifth Ninja Turtle, but how is avoiding the encounter beneficial in any way? The concept of pretending not to care sometimes seems to be the staple of our generation solely because it is effective. Expressing the extent of your possible devastation only reflects negatively upon you. Remaining emotionally ambiguous is advantageous because people tend to over analyze situations, thus enabling them to read into the unclear nation of an encounter. In your head, you plan a million different possible reactions ranging from the immature route of flashing a rude gesture to the epitome of passiveness-completely ignoring his mere existence. But when the fateful moment finally arrives, you simply fake a smile and quickly wave. Then, you proceed to fake a phone call in hope that your ex and his vast group of friends perceive you as an accepted member of campus society. As soon as they walk out of sight, you immediately text all of your friends, meticulously recounting the tragedy that just occurred. Your heartbeat finally returns to the standard pace and as you catch a glimpse of your reflection in a passing window, you realize you don’t really look that bad. Finally, you breathe a sigh of relief and think to yourself that breakups aren’t really that uncomfortable anyways.