Sammy Nickalls
November 13, 2015 8:52 am

Around this time last year, my world was crumbling. I had recently graduated from college and moved back home, away from all of my friends; my high school best friend was about to move to England forever to live with her husband; I had a job, but it turned out to be nothing like I had hoped it would be. And I was about to break up with my boyfriend of three years.

Here’s the thing: My boyfriend didn’t do anything terrible. He didn’t cheat behind my back like Spencer did to Jess. But that perhaps made the breakup even harder—because there wasn’t some awful, unforgivable occurrence that made the relationship explode into bits. It was ending because it wasn’t right for me anymore; I wasn’t happy, and I had to let a very nice guy go. I could barely get out of bed in the morning, let alone find the will to do anything else at all. Everything was dark, colorless, pointless.

And in my mind, it was all my fault.

It was my fault I didn’t have my own apartment; it was my fault I was breaking up with my boyfriend. It was my fault my world was crumbling. And because of that, I didn’t feel like I was allowed to be upset. I had to be strong, sturdy, unwavering. I was the cold witch breaking up with my boyfriend, after all; I had no right to mourn anything.

But I was mourning. I was grieving a relationship I had loved. A relationship that had been right for me for three years, but I had since outgrown. I didn’t know how to cope with these emotions because there was literally nothing I could do with them; the relationship as ending because I was ending it, and no amount of crying would change that. No amount of crying would change my boyfriend into the person I needed him to be, nor should it change him.

I had always been someone who wouldn’t let myself feel uncomfortable feelings. I would focus on getting rid of them through action—fixing whatever was wrong. But I had already taken the necessary action by deciding to end the relationship, and there was no getting rid of the sadness that was threatening to swallow me whole. The only thing that would fix it is time, and I knew that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t change time.

Instead doing something to fix the bad feelings, I had to let myself feel them. I had to figure out how to cope on my own. And that’s where New Girl came in.

Remember that very first episode, when Jess is sobbing loudly on the couch watching Dirty Dancing shortly after her breakup with Spencer? That was me, about a year ago. Except my Dirty Dancing was New Girl.

Breaking up with him was hard, but it was nothing compared to the couple weeks leading up to that day, when I was grappling with myself over whether it was the right decision. And around the same time I started questioning our relationship, I started watching New Girl, after having heard so much about it. Still, to this day, I genuinely feel like Jess Day entered my life at that exact moment for a reason.

As I was mourning my relationship, I started the first episode, when Jess was mourning hers. And even though her ex cheated on her, she was reacting in the exact same way I was. It all boils down to the same thing—grieving beloved memories with someone you once held dear, no matter how it ended.

Jess taught me that I’m allowed to be sad. I’m allowed to feel. I’m allowed to lay on the couch, sobbing, without being able to do anything at all. I’m allowed to flirt with random guys and make an ass of myself even though I don’t know what I’m doing, if that’s what makes me feel better.

But most of all, she taught me that after all of this is over, after all those sharp pains in my heart turn to dull aches, everything will be OK. And now, it is. I’ve since got an apartment. I’ve since changed jobs to something I love. I’ve since started dating someone I love with all my heart. But none of that couldn’t have happened without crying on the couch, Jess-style.

No matter how you try, sometimes, you’ll be the new girl in the apartment, sobbing over Dirty Dancing and wondering how your life could have possibly gone so wrong. And you know what? That’s OK. It means you’re opening your heart as much as Jess does unabashedly every second of her life.

And if that’s the wrong way to live, well, I don’t want to be right.

[Image via FOX]

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