Dana Alexa is an LA-based dancer and choreographer who has gained international recognition for her work. She is also an active vlogger and produces a series called "The Other Side," where she chronicles her adventures as she explores foreign cultures.
We asked Dana a few questions about heartbreak and she opened up about how spending some time alone helped her heal post-breakup.
If you think back to the first time you were heartbroken, what advice would you give to that younger version of yourself?
"I would tell myself to breathe and to step back to look at the big picture. It's so easy to get lost during heartbreak and feel like it is the end of your life. Even though it is very sad to lose a loved one in a break up, the pain is temporary. Life carries you forward and moves you on if you allow it to. Especially when I was a teenager I remember feeling like I would never recover, but as painful as heartbreak is, it's not lethal."
"I have actually learned the most important lessons and made the most significant positive changes to myself and my life through the course of breaking up and being heartbroken. Heartbreak is part of life and something that everyone deals with throughout the course of life in different forms - I wish the younger me was a little more aware of how life really does heal your heart in time."
What has heartbreak taught you about yourself?
"Heartbreak has taught me that I am resilient and stronger than I think. I have grown so much from heartbreak and have pulled myself out of some very hard times. I used to feel that I wasn't capable of doing things on my own, but when I was forced to do things for myself not only was I capable of doing them, but I really enjoy doing things for myself. I have always been independent and sometimes I sacrificed too much of that within my romantic relationships. It's been cool to surprise myself and see all that I am truly capable of on my own!"
What are your rituals during a breakup? What things/practices/people helped you mend?
"I am an only child, so part of me is a loner. I spend time in complete solitude. I sit alone and cry, sleep, walk on the beach - just detach and allow myself to feel the pain of it all. I think facing the reality of heartbreak head on like that without drowning it out allows me to heal so much faster. The pain of loss needs to be felt and dealt with, it can't be drowned out with alcohol and distractions - it will always creep back up and you'll have to deal with it eventually."
"Phase 2 for me is usually travel- I leave my familiars for a week or even a weekend and try to get new perspective and get excited about something new. It helps re-ignite my passion for life. During Phase 3 I get back to my old routine and really busy myself with things and people I love. Remembering all the things that make your life full help to remind you that though your relationship was a significant part of your life, it was only part of your life and that you are awesome all on your own!"
Thinking back to breakups you’ve had, did you have any breakup vices (checking your ex’s Insta, etc) and how do you conquer them?
"I think my breakup vice was to spend too long talking about what went wrong and trying to make sense of the whole thing. Especially when someone leaves you, that is an impossible thing to do. Unless you are lucky enough to have someone who really cares to give you an explanation, you won't ever know what was truly in someone else's mind and heart - even though it was someone you loved and were close with. Obsessing over it and hashing out every possibility with friends doesn't do much except cause agony and stress."
"I eventually realized that it's not always for us to understand the why of situations. People are different and we have to let them feel and behave in a way that is reflective of their truth, whether or not we understand or agree with their motivations. I loved my ex very much, enough to eventually understand that it didn't matter why he left me. That was just my ego worrying that something was wrong with me or that I was unlovable. I just had to accept it for what it was and let him go, wish him well and move on."
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about love so far in your life?
"I have learned that no matter how much you love someone, you can't make them love you the same. It truly is a two way street, both people have to WANT to be in love and make things work. People love differently and value different things in life - and all of that is OK. Those are the risks you take when you sign on for a relationship. Even though it doesn't always turn out the way you hope, love is the most worthwhile risk of all. It's important to open your heart no matter how many times you have been hurt and try again. Love is everything and we mustn't fear it. Yes it hurts to lose love, but it's certainly more tragic to exist without it."
Do you think exes can be friends? Do you stay friends with your exes on social media?
"I am not sure if exes can be friends - again I believe all people are different and I am sure that can work for some people. For me, I love hard and I can't imagine remaining friends with any of the men I have dated seriously. I think seeing their posts on my social media would keep me rooted in the past or drag me into some kind of game of comparison, so I don't remain friends on social networks. However, if any of them ever reached out and needed something I'd be there 100 percent."
What keeps your heart open, despite the heartbreaks you’ve had in your life?
"The people around me keep my heart open. I have such incredible family and friends and an unbelievable support system on social media. People who have seen me at my worst and loved me unconditionally. They inspire me and make me believe that kind of love exists and is possible. I'm a romantic at heart, I believe that real love is out there and I know that my heart needs to be open if there's any chance that I will find it. I have hope ♥"
What is your favorite song about heartbreak?
"Anything by Adele."
What is your favorite movie about heartbreak?
"PS I Love You."
What projects are you currently working on, and looking forward to most?
"I am really excited to be posting more vlogs and tutorials on my YouTube channel and I am super excited because I will be teaching a ton of master classes on the road this summer. You can find all those tour dates on my website www.DanaAlexa.com!"