You would have to be living under a rock to not have been exposed to possibly the greatest break up anthem of all time (sorry Tay Tay, still love you). Ariana Grande’s thank u, next has inspired amazing memes, broken YouTube and Vevo records, cemented itself in pop culture (thanks Kris Jenner cameo!) and is just an all-around banger.
It’s also an ode to moving on. And surprisingly enough, it taught me a bit about moving on from relationships. Or, to clarify, friendships. We all know it’s been a good while since I’ve had a romantic relationship (my one-sided infatuation with any British male called Harry does not count).
One thing to know about me and friendships is that I’m capricious when it comes to friendships. I go from friendship to friendship, and very few stand the test of time. I’m sure that one day a therapist will make lots of money from me dissecting exactly why, but in the meantime, I’ll keep on hopping around. So, when a friendship that I thought was a long-term thing ends, it’s all the more painful.
I used to take it personally when friendships that I thought were significant came to an end. But, after relocating for university, and then moving countries last year, I’ve realised that so many friendships are born out of circumstance and coincidence. You’ve become friends with these people because of the time they came into your life, and where you were in your life. Both emotionally, and geographically. I don’t keep in touch with as many people from high school since I moved countries, and even when I moved from Camden to Battersea, I see friends significantly less. The fact Battersea is the absolute pits to get to and I’m excessively lazy probably contributes to that as well…
Sometimes the lesson is that you’ve outgrown the friendship. Sometimes, it’s realising you’ve made a mistake and you need to apologise. Sometimes, it’s realising that you’re really freaking lazy and need to try to see people.
In saying that though, I’ve had a few friendships fall out in spectacular fashion over the years. Sometimes the friendship has become toxic in its own way, and sometimes its due to lots of small things building up, and then there’s one tiny thing that pushes it over the edge and there doesn’t seem to be any coming back from it. Some friendships I’ve realised are no longer as important to me, and just let them naturally fade out. And people have done the same with me.
Regardless of the reason, there’s a reason we feel the way we do when friendships end. It’s essentially someone you felt an attachment to saying they don’t want to hang out with you or have you in their life anymore. And that can be particularly brutal to deal with, especially as friendship is such a strong emotional bond. Friendships are also totally volitional; you’ve both chosen to pursue a friendship because the relationship is mutually satisfying. It’s not like family, where you have absolutely no choice in the matter (I’m still disappointed I wasn’t born a royal, I’d be so good at it!).
But at the end of the day, you’ve suffered a loss in your life. And with all instances of loss, the recovery is time and acceptance. Accepting and understanding that friendships – just like romantic relationships – can be fleeting. I used to say that every relationship is either for life, or it’s a lesson. Sometimes the lesson is that you’ve outgrown the friendship. Sometimes, it’s realising you’ve made a mistake and you need to apologise. Sometimes, it’s realising that you’re really freaking lazy and need to try to see people (I’m still trying to learn that last lesson).
Just like a romantic break up, a platonic break up can result in you romanticising the friendship and forgetting that it ended for a reason. You’ll gloss over the negative times and only remember what it felt when your friendship was at a high. Which obviously, you shouldn’t forget. Just because something ended, and sometimes ended negatively, does not invalidate the good times that were experienced – that’s how I look at Gossip Girl. Just because the last four seasons were subpar (still mad at the final reveal; it should’ve been Dorota), doesn’t mean that the first two seasons weren’t amazing. Because they were.
So back to analysing Ari’s song — my year 12 English teacher would be so proud of me (hi Mr Shea!). Except it’s not that difficult to analyse; she herself states that she’s essentially taking time for herself, and the biggest, longest relationship is with herself (is she a modern day Carrie Bradshaw?). She also flips the love, patience, pain line, saying that she’s got so much love and patience, and she’s learnt from the pain. If this was an English essay, I’d find some way to slip the word thus in. Thus, the author is saying that yes, break ups can be painful, but working on yourself will bring rewards. It’s okay to take time out for yourself, whether it’s for healing or for working on yourself.
The last thing I took from the song, that isn’t just blatantly address in the lyrics, is that there’s a real power in being vulnerable. Ari’s taken some pretty crappy few years and flipped it on her head. She’s thanking people in her past for what they’ve brought and taught her, as opposed to going out on the negative. You can be vulnerable by telling someone how they hurt you and how they made you feel, or you can show your vulnerability by putting yourself out there again and meeting new people.
But above all, Ariana got the mighty ruler of us all, Kris Jenner, to play Mrs. George and utter the most iconic line possibly ever uttered in a music video: “thank you next, bitch!” And if that’s not powerful, then I don’t know what is.