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Adele: Heartbreak as a Catalyst

At a recent doctor’s appointment, while the nurse was administering one of those enjoyable blood tests, she broke the silence between us by commenting on the background music.

It was Adele’s “Someone Like You” — the song that can easily induce tears even upon hearing the first verse:

“I heard that you settled down
That you found a girl, and you’re married now
I heard that your dreams came true
Guess she gave you things, I couldn’t give to you.”

“Adele’s so great, isn’t she?” the nurse said. “That first heartbreak, though, is the worst.”

The nurse inspired me to wonder about Adele.

At only 23 years old, the renowned British singer has captivated audiences with songs epitomizing heartbreak and loss. Her deeply moving lyrics strike a chord with the millions who buy her music. Her sophomore album, 21, sold 18 million copies and her singles “Rolling in the Deep,” “Someone Like You” and “Set Fire To The Rain,” have resonated with many fans.

“Rolling in the Deep” and “Someone Like You” both are about the ex-boyfriend who broke her heart after an emotionally intense, serious relationship; he became engaged to someone else shortly afterward.

In an interview with Matt Lauer of the “Today Show,” she admitted that when she wrote those songs, feeling terribly alone and filled with despair, she didn’t realize how much people would be able to relate to that grief right along with her.

“She has a poignantly vulnerable stage presence, with her heart on her sleeve, and she sometimes cries over the still keenly felt heartbreaks that are the subject of most of her songs,” Jonathan Van Meter wrote in a feature for Vogue magazine.

Adele willingly confesses that her performances can be very emotional. “Even though my emotions aren’t with my ex at all anymore, it’s still like stepping back into that really painful time.”

However, she has come to demonstrate resiliency. She bounced back from her pain, and look where she is now. She openly discusses in interviews how her heartbreak was not only a catalyst for her creativity and growth as a successful artist, but also a mechanism for granting herself an inner peace with her past and present.

“Your heart mends when you learn to love again,” she says. At this stage in her life, she’s currently very happy with somebody else, and she has reached the point where she can conclude that the outcome from her previous relationship was all for the best.

“You know, he was amazing,” Adele told Vogue. “He was great. But it was never going to work. And for ages I was like, ‘As if he deserves any f*cking kudos for inspiring my record.’ But now, after some time, it only seems right that the person who so far has had the biggest impact on me — has now changed my life for f*cking ever with this album — deserves a little credit. I can do things that I never dreamed I’d be able to do. If I hadn’t met him, I think I’d still be that little girl I was when I was eighteen. And the best thing is, I now know what I want for myself and from someone else. I didn’t know what I wanted before.”

Many do go through a significant heartbreak, including moments of hurt and great sadness. Adele’s shining quality is that she provides us both with songs that embody those universal emotions and the inspiration to overcome it.

Adele: Heartbreak as a Catalyst

Lauren Suval

Lauren Suval studied print journalism and psychology at Hofstra University, and she is a writer based in New York. Her work has been featured on Thought Catalog, Catapult Community, and other online publications. Lauren's e-book “Coping With Life’s Clutter” and her collection of personal essays, “The Art Of Nostalgia,” can both be found on Amazon. Lauren's latest E-Book, "Never Far Behind," a collection of poetry, is available on Smashwords, Apple Books, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo. She loves to be followed on social media, including her Facebook Writing Page,

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APA Reference
Suval, L. (2018). Adele: Heartbreak as a Catalyst. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 25 Jun 2012)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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