Sara Radin is a fashion and beauty features editor for Teen Vogue. Sara likes to collaborate with strangers, foster community, and spread the cathartic powers of creativity. We asked Sara a few questions about her experience with heartbreak and she opened up about how focusing on herself helped her thrive as a single woman.
If you think back to the first time you were heartbroken, what advice would you give to that younger version of yourself?
"My first break up was a total disaster! I was completely heartbroken. Looking back on it now, there’s a lot I would tell my younger self. I used to think being in a relationship was everything, but luckily, I know better than that now. When I was younger, that belief made it impossible to see myself as a whole person because I could only measure my life based upon the fact that I was still single."
"Now, I would tell my younger self to ignore the media and my inner critic, and see my singledom as a positive. To fully embrace my independence and see it as an opportunity to learn, grow and focus on making things happen for myself. I’d tell myself that break ups (though they can be messy and painful) are always a blessing in disguise, and can even be inspiration for creative projects. As Carrie Fisher once said, 'Take your broken heart, make it into art.'”
What has heartbreak taught you about yourself?
"Heartbreak has taught me that I am stronger than I could ever imagine and I am worthy of honesty, respect and deep love."
What are your rituals during a breakup? What things/practices/people helped you mend?
"Sounds simple but I make me time. I let myself rest, recharge, and feel through my emotions. Sometimes that’s staying in on a Friday night, ordering take out and laying around watching old episodes of Gilmore Girls or Parenthood. Other times, it’s taking a long, hot shower, sitting at the bottom of the tub and meditating until I feel more grounded."
"Writing has also been a great healing mechanism, it allows me to process my feelings and find the learnings in shitty experiences. I’ve been doing memoir writing, largely about my dating life, for a little over a year now, and it’s been a game changer. Not only is it incredibly cathartic, but it’s also empowering and wildly entertaining. Then, when I feel ready, I get out of the house and surround myself with people I love. My ideal night is seeing a movie, and grabbing a yummy meal with great friends. Hugs, laughter, vintage shopping, frozen Justin’s peanut butter cups -- they all help too."
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?
"After past relationships ended, I used to throw myself into online dating or go on dates with people I didn’t actually want to hang out with. It wasn't a healthy coping mechanism. I was so scared of being alone and yet, doing that always made me feel worse and even more alone. A while back, I had some shitty dating experiences that really stripped me raw. It was a wake up call that I wasn’t doing a very good job at putting myself first. So I took a much needed dating hiatus in order to focus on myself and the things that make me happy. I learned a really valuable lesson and have since, never been happier.
Checking an ex’s Instagram definitely used to fill a void for me but I realized it was making breakups more painful. So now, I try to pause before I click on an ex’s account, and really think if it’s worth it. I still slip up once in awhile and give into the vice sometimes, but now I make a conscious effort to remind myself how that person wasn’t right for me, and re-focus my energy on the things that make me feel happy and fulfilled."
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about love so far in your life?
"The greatest love of all is the love you have for yourself. And although people may come and go, self-love is eternal."
Do you think exes can be friends? Do you stay friends with your exes on social media?
"I always joke you never know who’s going to be your next collaborative partner, and that could very well be an ex-boyfriend. However, I think it depends on the circumstances of the break up. If someone didn’t treat you well in a relationship, then they’re definitely not worth keeping around. Though it’s hard to totally disconnect from people today, I tend to only unfollow exes in extreme circumstances. Sometimes I block guys from my Instagram stories. It just feels too intimate and weird for them to be watching the in’s and out’s of my daily life. Instagram desperately needs to create a setting that allows you to continue following someone but block their images from your feed without them knowing :)"
What keeps your heart open, despite the heartbreaks you’ve had in your life?
"No matter what my relationship status is, my creativity and my curiosity are the two things that will always get me out of bed in the morning, and tuck me into bed at night."
What is your favorite song about heartbreak?
What is your favorite movie about heartbreak?
"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"
What projects are you currently working on, and looking forward to most?
"A little over a year ago, I started writing poems about some of the guys I previously dated. Now, with the help of my co-founder Vanessa Gattinella, it’s turned into a global project called It’s Not Personal. INP is a growing anthology and collective inspired by the female dating experience. While we’re working towards a large scale exhibition and a published book, we currently host monthly workshops at the New Women Space and run a monthly column with BUST Magazine. "
"Our aim is to give women a platform to share, cope and grow from their dating experiences using the powerful tools of art and writing. Though the project is about dating, at the heart of it, we want to help women on their journey to self-love. We want to help them find comfort and clarity in their relationship status, whatever that may be. So far, we’ve received over 100 submissions and our collective has over 2,000 members. Submissions are still being accepted through September, and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org!"
*Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Scholnick