In her debut book, Lost You, Found Me, Zara Carbonell doesn’t fall short in depicting how setting up dates (and actually going on one) could prove to be difficult for someone who chooses to focus on their career. Contending with a conflict in schedule is one thing, but having to make a lot of compromises is another, which could be extremely taxing for someone who seeks to attain self-sovereignty.
After two painful breakups and a handful of short-lived dates with men, Zara eventually finds love. But as we’d read from her story, it wasn’t easy to attain it. She had to make peace with her previous relationships and traverse across uncertainties brought about by her past wounds.
As she takes us with her on her journey through life, we get to see how putting off romance to find oneself and letting go of fixed standards could be just some of the things one might need in order to recognize the person who had been the one for us all along.
It may not always be because of you, really
“They say when you’re younger it’s hard to know for sure if it’s love and if it’s forever.”
It’s not unusual for twenty-somethings to hear the explanation, “It’s not you, it’s me,” as they go through a breakup. This reason may sound insufficient to some, especially if their relationship had spanned for years just to be cut off by an excuse that hardly seems well-thought-out-of on the surface.
There could be times when questions like “What did I do wrong?” and “Where did I lack?” find themselves plaguing the minds of those who had been broken up with. But even if they try to dig deep, the answers don’t always end up coming from themselves. More often than not, it’s really their partner, not them.
Zara gives us a new outlook on “It’s not you, it’s me” by showing us that there’s more to this hackneyed reason than we might think. As she writes so poignantly in her book:
“I tried as best as I could not to make it sound like another “It’s not you, it’s me” cliché, but it really wasn’t him… The truth was that I didn’t know who I was anymore and I needed to go figure that out for myself. I loved him more than I knew I could, but I just couldn’t decide on who I wanted to be if there were voices in my head and in my conscience already louder than my own.”
There are some things that we undeniably have to let go of in the midst of figuring ourselves out. Most times, these are habits that no longer serve us any purpose in reaching our goals. Other times, these are people who ironically find themselves at a phase where we feel lost and want to find ourselves on our own.
The latter gives us a clear view of how reasons for breaking up aren’t always caused by another’s mistakes or shortcomings. Because beyond all these reasons could exist something that concerns the one who wishes to be separated themself, and albeit value-adding, could still be hurtful as well.
“While I was absolutely certain that this is what I needed, I’d be a hypocrite if I told you I was not in pain,” Zara confesses while narrating her painful breakup with her college boyfriend.
The One doesn’t always have to be The One
“They said when the right person walks in, you’ll know in an instant—I didn’t.”
There’s a probability that at a certain point in our lives, we’ve encountered someone who perfectly fits the image we have of our ideal partner. This person is the type who we’d realize ticks off all the boxes on our standards list. Has this, check. Does that, check. Is like this, double check!
If they don’t happen to be someone we just tend to admire on screen, we often find ourselves believing they could be the one for us. After all, if they could easily fit into the space we’ve carved out for our potential partner, it wouldn’t seem too difficult to imagine forming a harmonious relationship with them.
Zara isn’t spared from wanting to be with someone who possesses passions and engages in hobbies that align with those of hers. In Lost You, Found Me, she even details a few characteristics that she looks for in her ideal partner:
“... I wanted someone who I could talk to about philosophy, someone I could break down the most mundane movie scenes with, someone who loved reading the same books as me, someone who had an entrepreneurial mind. I wanted to be with someone who could level up my life and add the value I was looking for.”
This is in addition to her search for someone who was accomplished, had a game plan for his life, had his career on point, and someone who could out-alpha her in the relationship, which she later on realizes had been a projection of a certain man she used to be with.
Being fixated on traits that we’ve observed from our past partners keeps us away from facing the reality that not everyone is the same. This dawns on Zara a little later after dating different men and reflecting on how she can’t find her ideal partner because she favored qualities manifested by someone in particular:
“I didn’t know it yet, but my dating pattern was a byproduct of me projecting Matthew to every man who sat across the table. I drew up expectations based on him, which were unattainable anyway because I was meeting completely different people.”
Every once in a while, we tend to be single-minded about a strict set of standards that we get instantly turned off by a trait that clashes with our expectations. We then dismiss the possibility that a certain person (maybe someone we’ve already met) could possess other attributes that might just be what we needed. Not only something we’ve always wanted.
Sometimes, letting go is necessary to get a hold of something else
“They say that people who are meant to be together will always find their way back to each other…”
When our hands finally get a grasp of something we had been looking for, we tend to hesitate to take on new things for fear of losing something we have finally gotten. When we have a clear view of how our plans are about to be achieved, we’re inclined to say no to possibilities that we are yet to make certain of.
Before Zara committed to a romantic relationship again, she met someone who “fell into the mold” of whoever she wanted to be with. At the time they met, she had already been seeing someone, but had never discussed putting a label on their relationship.
But upon discovering how sincere and transparent her non-exclusive partner was to her throughout the year they dated, Zara realized that there was more to this man than she accounted for. And perhaps, merited her undivided attention:
“Maybe I just needed to give us a real chance to get to know each other—we deserved at least that. If it didn’t work out, then at least we gave it a fair fight. And if it did, we would be glad to have taken that risk.”
There comes a time when we struggle with choosing between holding on or letting go of certain relationships—budding ones or those that have already gotten past their early stages. Such a dilemma isn’t always easy to resolve, but yet again, Zara shows us how it’s okay to let go in order to get a hold of something that might have been meant for us in the first place. As such, Zara stopped talking to other guys and assumed exclusivity with the one she had been talking to for approximately a year.
Now then, along with the decision to let go can also come learnings that could alter our lives for the better, some of which Zara was able to experience:
“I learned how to have fun again. I learned how to unlearn habits that did not help me. I learned how to trust in “the flow,” whatever that meant. I learned to worry less. I learned to smile more. I learned to not take things too seriously and just let life happen.”
Of course, the path that comes after we choose to let go isn’t always paved with smooth roads and scenic routes. Not going astray along the way isn’t promised either. Regardless, it’s getting lost on bumpy pavements set against unpleasant landscapes that we occasionally end up finding ourselves in the process—sometimes independently; other times, with someone who eventually (or even unexpectedly) accompanies us throughout our journey.
by: Rhea Pulgado