The Chronological Stages of Divorce in Your Early 20s

Almost 3 years later, this is a reflection of my process. I began a relationship at 17, was engaged 5 years later, married 1 year after that, and divorced 2 years later.
  1. 1.
    Denial
    You tell yourself that divorce is for other people, but not for you. You did what society told you...you dated for a long time, your family approved of him, you finished college. You were supposed to be following the foolproof plan. (*spoiler: there is no foolproof plan for life)
  2. 2.
    Hurt
    He hurt you. You hurt him. You wanted him to just be better and you get angry that he couldn't be. Failure hurts. Regardless of circumstance or breaking point that finally ends a relationship, failure lies on both people.
  3. 3.
    Loneliness
    This is scary and over-surmounting at first. In this moment, every morning you wake up feels like Groundhog Day. You are confused, and lost, and ask a lot of "why" questions.
  4. 4.
    Change
    You are forced to make large changes. Some you want to make, some you try to avoid making at all. In the end, you take a leap of faith knowing that you can only go up from where you are in that moment.
  5. 5.
    Acceptance
    You made it this far. You may still be hurt and alone and scared, but that feeling deep in the pit of your stomach of knowing that you are likely exactly where you're supposed to be is a resounding comfort at the end of each day.
  6. 6.
    Learning
    All that time alone in this new era of your life means discovering who the hell you really are and what you really want. You dive head first into your career, meet lots of new people, go on unplanned trips, say yes to things you'd normally say no to, go on lots and lots (and lots) of dates...you also date yourself a lot too.
  7. 7.
    Confidence
    Learning from your mistakes and having a clearer vision of what you want/don't want in a partner (and in life) makes one feel like a badass. You don't have to flounder around and put up with people or situations that you don't deserve.
  8. 8.
    Thriving
    That feeling after you go through something really difficult but wake up everyday knowing that this is exactly where you're supposed to be. It's terrifying! And inspiring! And perfect! You worry a whole lot less and do a whole lot more.
  9. 9.
    Contentment
    This is the best. YOU GET TO DO YOU. You make new friends, cultivate your own happiness, gain new interests, and pursue your passions. You no longer search for a relationship out of a NEED to be with someone to fill you up, but instead you're able to distinctly decide that you WANT to be with someone out of a desire to enhance the life you're already living and loving.
  10. 10.
    Joy
    After the clouds finally clear, you're able to see once again that life is effing BEAUTIFUL. Personal daily reminders: never stop traveling the world, be kind to others, take risks, be vulnerable, smile more, stare at screens less, take more walks, and be thankful.
  11. 11.
    Recap: the ending of a marriage can be the beginning of the best years of your life.
    In my case, that's exactly what it was