Bolu Babalola, author of Honey & Spice, reflects on the hopefulness of heartbreak in her essay published in ELLE Magazine. While romance is often seen as leading to hopelessness and heartbreak, Babalola shows us how heartbreak teaches us to be resilient and brave, pushing us to value our desires and love better.
These are some of the quotes that stood out to us from Babalola’s essay:
On the Visceral Experience of Heartbreak:
“Heartbreak is physical. It squeezes at your chest, and scrabbles at your throat, your head pounds, your heart—the blood-pumping thing, not the spiritual, psychic thing—feels like it is beating both faster and slower at the same time, like it is being lanced by an invisible, sharp object.”
Romance as Resilience and Courage:
“The thing with being a romantic is that everyone aligns it with “hopeless.” Hopeless romantic. We’re seen as people with a proclivity to surrender to the frivolity of emotions, to chase the transient high of attraction. We are swiftly charmed and easily flattered. We are seen as fantasists who need to get a grip, who believe that the world can replicate the rom-com universes of chunky sweater vests, sappy orchestral swells, and mid-ranking media jobs that somehow pay enough to afford a decent apartment in a major metropolis. In reality, being a romantic is edgy, resilient, courageous. It is seeing Mount Everest, seeing just how impossibly high it is, and still deciding to climb it because you know the air will be better, the view will be transcendent. We may tumble down on the way up, but we still continue our ascent.”
The Many Stages of Heartbreak:
“While “emotionally decimated” feels a touch dramatic in retrospect—and granted, I am dramatic—at the time this is what I felt. It was a pain that thrummed and hurtled me far away from the soft, sweet past. Those memories turned hard and rancid once touched by the reality of the present. And yet, despite this, in the midst of this, there were never any regrets, or any doubts that I would fall in love again, steadfastly, confidently, perhaps even harder, in a safer and more secure place. And despite this, in the midst of this, the idea of being “alone” was not frightening.”
On Tough Romanticism:
“Despite the debris of my crumbled affection—playlists that had to be deleted, a blocked number and an archived chat—I was okay, knew I would be okay, because I am a romantic, and my version of romanticism means that we are the toughest tribe of people despite what the world says.”
How Rom-Coms Teach Us To Value Ourselves:
“Loving rom-coms isn’t an elevated act of delusion, but a belief that we can find the happiness we feel when we consume those stories in reality, that pure joy that the world often attempts to make us forget. Being a romantic means that heartbreak doesn’t mean your hope breaks. It means that you know, one day, you will be able to twerk to that song again.”
Read more of Babalola’s essay here.