When I was a little girl, I loved spending my summer evenings swinging in our backyard. After dinner, I’d sit on the swing and pump my sneakers in the air, swinging higher and higher, trying to touch the twilight stars with my toes.
The clouds looked like cotton candy, the brilliant blues and soft pinks streaking across an endless sky. As the sun faded, Mother Nature’s soundtrack intensified: frogs croaking, the breeze blowing through oak tree branches, crickets rubbing their legs together like violin bows and strings.
Life was simple. Me and the swings and Mother Nature.
I was content with the clouds and the crickets.
I danced on the top of our wooden picnic table perched in front of our backyard oak tree. I hummed “Once Upon a Dream” from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty as I twirled, holding the tree’s branches in my fingertips as if the oak was my Prince Charming.
I made crowns out of dandelions and wishes on the Magic Bridge, a dip in our ditch where my aunt encouraged me to make a wish as I crossed to the other side of the field. I picked bouquets of goldenrod and mouthed Spice Girls songs in my bedroom mirror, clothed in sequined dance costumes and unapologetic sass. I ate red, white and blue popsicles that stained my lips and mouth cherry red.
Nowadays when I picture that girl wearing the dandelion crowns and sequined skirts, I feel protective. When I see my friend’s daughters wearing underwear on their head and laughing at the library and being silly and charming and THEM, I feel protective.
Because I know what eventually happens: We grow up.
Some grow up sooner than others. Some—due to circumstances or situations beyond their control— grow up sooner than they should.
Society steps in and tells us that dandelions and goldenrod are actually weeds and are bad for allergies. Cotton candied skies turn so dark you can’t see the stars anymore. Sequins lose their luster. Whole hearts become broken. Lessons are learned. Wounds become scars, shiny and permanent.
It’s part of this whole journey to adulthood-thing we must go through. Nobody leaves this world unscarred.
I look at these younger generations of girls and know what they may face as the years go on, and a slow fire burns in my belly. A passion to help equip teenage girls and young women with positive messages to inspire self-confidence and strength to believe in themselves, to heal, to move forward.
Because we’ve all been stuck. We’ve felt lost. Unsure of who we are and thinking back to the days of dandelion crowns and summer sunsets and swings when life felt more simple and you felt more like you.
In 2009, I graduated from Central Michigan University with a degree in Interpersonal Communication. I took classes like Nonverbal Communication. Interpersonal Communication. Family Communication. I learned theories about people and why we act the way we do. I loved those classes so much I went on to get my master’s degree in Communication from CMU.
My master’s thesis research focused on breakups; specifically, I interviewed how young women about their breakups and why they often changed their appearance (got a haircut, tattoo, new clothes) after a breakup.
My thesis—those interviews—is one of my most favorite life experiences so far. So much so, that the research doesn’t ever leave the back of my mind, even after five years since writing the thesis. Those girls—their responses, their interviews, their strength—continues to inspire me.
I am working on a new writing project. The goal is to publish a resource for teen girls and young women going through a breakup, as that is where my history, interest and former research focuses were targeted. That is where my passions remain.
When girls and young women are alone in their bedrooms, feeling like their heart will never be whole and the pieces will never fit and the world will never see the sun, I want a resource to exist because we’ve all been there. We’ve all been snotty and red-faced and feeling so dang ALONE.
I don’t like asking for things. I don’t like bothering people. I feel odd making requests. Uncomfortable feeling vulnerable as I lay my passions out on the table.
But through this blog post, I make this request now, and I ask you to please listen with open ears and a willing heart:
Can you help me?
Maybe you are a teen or young adult woman who went through a hard breakup recently.
Maybe you went through a challenging breakup that left you lost and confused as a teenager or young adult.
Maybe you know someone—a daughter, a friend, a friend’s daughter, a niece, a granddaughter, a student—who has had an experience like this.
I want to hear their—your—stories. Your breakup experience that was significant to you. It doesn’t matter if it happened years ago or last week. Names will be changed. Everything will be kept confidential and between you and me. You talk; I’ll listen. It doesn’t have to take place in person. You don’t have to answer anything you don’t want to. You can stop the interview at any time. To be honest, there’s no guarantee any of this will see anyone’s eyes besides mine.
If you feel uncomfortable talking about a past relationship, don’t worry. I completely understand.
But your story or experience may help someone else going through something similar right now. Your story may be relatable to another girl or young woman feeling the same feelings you felt.
Even if you think your breakup experience isn’t “interesting” or “different” or “unique,” if you felt it had an impact on you, it IS unique because it’s yours.
We all have a story, and I believe it is our sharing of stories that often inspire connection. Growth. Healing.
If you are interested in participating or want to learn more, feel free to email me at: lindsayhenrywrites[at]gmail[dot]com.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tightly closed in a bud was more painful than the risk to bloom.”