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This I Believe: I Believe in Breakups

Lily Churchwell - Hillsboro High School
Beatrice Bonner
NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS
Lily Churchwell - Hillsboro High School

“We need to talk”

The glow behind the letters dims and goes dark. I’m at my friend Sophie’s house, listening to Harry Styles’s new album, when I get the “we need to talk” text from Ethan [name has been changed to protect the identity of jerk]. At first, I don't think anything of it, because we’re already planning on hanging out with a group of friends next Sunday. However, when I start asking follow-up questions and getting terse answers, my heart starts to race. He is breaking up with me.

“I just think this is better for the both of us”

My stomach is being pushed down to the depths of the earth. Tears fall into the white porcelain sink. I look up into the mirror to see my glassy red eyes in the reflection before staring daggers through the obnoxious pink hand towel with a smiley face on it.

What did I do? How can I get him back? Did I change? 

This breakup put me into a weirdly dark place, where I start thinking of myself through the eyes of others, rather than my own. When getting dressed, I intricately choose clothing that will be the most pleasing for dudes to look at. I strive to look effortless, even though I care too much because: Guys like girls who aren’t afraid to show skin. I also change my personality because: Guys don’t like loud girls.

I remain silent in class discussions, so my questions won’t be viewed as dumb. This becomes a problem so severe that it affects my understanding of classroom material because I’m just too afraid to ask for help. Looking around, I start to see the signs. My grades are slowly dropping and my oversized Jonas Brothers T-shirt in the closet is collecting dust. This realization hit me like a bus – a bus going a trillion miles an hour.

Why was I doing this? I’m not planning on pursuing anything with any of these boys in my life, so why do I want to please them so much? Why did I become this person? I’m not like this. 

This isn’t me.

Now, I wear my Jonas Brothers shirt frequently and don't give it a second thought, because it pleases me. I want to be who I really am, rather than what I assume a guy wants me to be. A single text message turned my world upside down. However, I used my mental dilemma to better my self-perception. I believe in forming a sense of self that is only dependent on what makes me happy. This is why I believe in breakups.

This I Believe Illinois is NPR Illinois' annual essay program for Illinois high school seniors. An expression of where their minds are as they prepare to enter the adult world. This I Believe was started by radio journalist Edward R. Murrow in 1951 to allow anyone able to distil the guiding principles by which they lived. Special thank you to our sponsors: The Rotary Club of Springfield Sunrise, BLH Computers, Illinois Times, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, and Mary Beth & Harvey M. Stephens.

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