About a month ago, at a bar/coffee shop five blocks away from my old apartment in downtown Columbus, eight twentysomethings sat at table engaged in laughs and conversation. If you need a visual, picture Central Perk minus the couch and many more beer glasses than coffee mugs. Oh, I should also point out that most of these people met one another for the first time 30 minutes prior to my late arrival. It’s a night, even 3 weeks later, that I continually find myself coming back to. While it may seem odd to others, one of the memories I recall most frequently is over the lyrics of a song. I know, me and my lyrics & quotes.
A comedic, liquor-drinking guitar player soon took over mic and began crooning many ladies’ choices. As our table began making predictions for the next song, he sang the line:
Look for the girl with the broken smile/ Ask her if she wants to stay awhile (She Will Be Loved by Maroon 5)
As he continued singing the remainder of the song, silence hit me. (Maybe discomfort too.) To distract myself from the thoughts that were forming, I looked around the room at the strangers nearby, until the song came to an end.
“What does ‘a broken smile’ mean?” Jen asked.
With no one else responding and her gaze on me, I thought quickly about what to say. So many things I could have said. So many examples I could have given. With more discomfort setting in, I opted not to say too much but did incorporate the words ‘sadness’ and ‘broken heart’ into my answer.
I thought, Does she really not know? How could she not know? Has she never truly battled pain, suffering and/or a broken heart? Has she never had to force a smile when her heart was breaking inside? Has she never forgotten how to breathe without feeling pain? Has she never wished that she could sleep a whole day away so she didn’t have to worry about hearing his name? If not, then I pity her.
At twenty-seven years old, I can finally say that I’m grateful for my broken days; for they have given me strength and resilience. The honest truth is that obstacles are life’s best lessons. Each and every experience- momentous or habitual- exists to prepare us for what has yet to come. The same can be said about relationships as sometimes you have to learn from heartbreak in order to appreciate true love when it comes along.
I couldn’t have said the same thing at 22 years old; quite frankly I’m not sure if I saw it this way last year. But all that matters is I believe it now. And I believe that there’s nothing wrong with being broken… as long as you put the pieces back together again.