When I moved to New York, jobless, with my entire life packed into two suitcases – I never doubted my ability to break into publishing. Sure, I knew it wasn’t going to be a walk-in-the-park and my first job wouldn’t be my big break or my dream magazine –but something inside of me said: “Just go, it’ll all work out.”
Fast forward three weeks after my plane touched ground and I find myself jumping-up-and-down frantically while accepting my first Editorial Assistant position at a… business magazine.
My first day on the job, my wonderful editor, D (whom I admire so much!) assigned me a few articles and told me to get started. As I sat down and started to read the results from a survey I would be writing about – I realized: I have no idea what any of this means.
My background is in women’s interest which has included everything from women’s rights and fashion to sex and beauty. I never took one business class in college and truth-be-told, hardly read any business articles until I accepted this job.
When my first article came back, bleeding in red markups, my editor asked questions like: “How much was the investment?” and “Where did they focus their marketing efforts and how did they reel in the ideal customer in their industry?” and finally, “Well, what is their ROI?” ROI is one of the many ways to measure the success of a business.
Although it may make me look like a total idiot, I quickly Googled “ROI” and figured out it meant “Return on Investment” which is usually expressed in a percentage based on total costs balanced with revenues. Basically, it’s asking: I pumped all of this money into this idea or this business or this marketing strategy, and I got what in return?
But what about return in love? We invest so much of our thoughts, our time, our hearts, our minds, and our bodies into a relationship or almost–relationship, risking the possibility of being totally let down or heart broken, and what do we get in exchange?
How do you measure ROL (Return on Love)?
Though relationships should be pretty evenly balanced, unavoidably, there tends to be someone who gives more than they take. The same is true in platonic friendships, in the working environment, and when it’s all in the family. My role, both as the giver and the taker, has changed in every relationship I’ve been in – but if I’m honest with myself about what role I play most of the time –it’s the giver. While Mr. Faithful put way more into the relationship than I ever did, with Mr. Curls, Mr. Fire, Mr. Fling, Mr. Buddy, Mr. Rebound, and Mr. Idea – I was the one left upset or burned by the ending of the relationship.
So really, the older I’ve become, the more I’ve given – which has resulted in more hardship. Does this mean my ROL has been low? Have I placed much more of my heart and my time into relationships, than I’ve received in return?
I can’t say that choosing the role between the lender or the borrower can predict what someone’s return will be when they take the chance at falling in love. But what you can measure is how you handle yourself when it’s time to calculate the risk you took.
Sure we get disappointed and we feel that awful sting of resentment and of heartache when a relationship comes to a close that’s not on our terms. And yes, we reserve the right to mourn the loss of the end of a chapter, a dent in our hearts (and pride), and the sadness that comes with realizing what we thought would be, will not.
We’re meant to fall in love and fall out of it. We’re meant to be bruised and broken down at times – that is part of life, and that is human nature. Those personal sized Ben & Jerry’s cartons, Nicholas Sparks books and movies, and Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” are successful for a reason. We all feel those rushes of ups and downs, highs and lows, and beliefs and denials – it’s how we process and how we cope.
But it’s after those days of exhaustion and of crying, of hating and of chasing “what-ifs” away – that we learn how much we truly learned. And if we can take some piece of clarity about what we want and how we’ve grown from the investment we put into a relationship, then I believe our ROL is quite high. If we can see the conclusion of a relationship as not the end-all-be-all, but instead the first day of the rest of our lives – then anything we’ve invested or planned for or put into love, goes straight back to us. In that way, we take back our control and our power, instead of giving it away to the person who left us broken.
Every person that has filtered through our hearts, lives, and legs has been there to show us something. I’m under the belief that fate has a magic hand in everything and when a relationship ends, it opens the door to something more incredible, more powerful, and more everlasting: the opportunity to redefine yourself. To fall in love with yourself again and remember who you are, outside of the icky relationship residue you’ve been swimming in. To pick up the pieces, collect your debts, count your losses, and figure out how you’re going to boost up the return in the next quarter. Just like you have to pump some sort of funds into a business to make it grow, to become a better-you, and more lovingly-profitable in a relationship, you have to go through several good and bad quarters before you find your traction.
Because single women (and men) are much like the entrepreneurs I write about – when they fail or hit a rough spot or lose their hope, they bounce back with a fierce diligence…that ultimately, that hope and passion – leads to their success.