Music, Pop Culture

What we all really need to learn from Ariana’s “thank u, next” music video

Ariana Grande turns to self-love and gratitude in the face of pain and loss

“I met someone else… her name is Ari”

These are the lyrics that 25-year-old pop star Ariana Grande broke the internet with in her music video for “thank u, next” that premiered Friday evening. For anyone who has been living under a rock, Ari’s new hit single is about thanking her ex-boyfriends for all they have offered her, but now moving on from these relationships as a proud single woman.

The five-minute video managed to break records as the most viewed Youtube Premiere video of all time. People across the globe were even throwing premiere parties with all their closest friends in order to sit at the edge of their seats and watch with beaming faces as their favorite singer graced the screen.

Fans of Ariana were ecstatic to see the pop artist replicating iconic movie characters from all of the quotable films of their youth and inserting pop culture references that shine a whole new light on the brand classically known by the world as the “chick flick”. It is commonly expressed by society to label a chick flick as less than, a cheap film by patriarchal standards that is, simply and derogatorily, “girly”. In “thank u, next”, Grande takes the derogatory term and flips it on its head. Paying homage to movies that our generation has grown up with, these empowering films include (but are not limited to) Mean Girls, Bring It On, Legally Blonde, and 13 Going On 30.

It is a video filled with community, excitement, hope, and celebration. Yet as charming as the movie references and celebrity cameos in Ariana’s video are (and they are very charming indeed), the best part about her smash hit video is watching as Ari embarks on her authentic journey to self-love in the face of pain.

Ari recreating the scene from "13 Going on 30
[Image description: Ariana Grande with her head resting on a doll house, recreating the scene from “13 Going on 30”] via Vevo

We all have to face heartbreak at some point, whether it be a breakup with a romantic partner or a falling out with a close friend. As most of us know, it’s a terrible feeling to lose someone who was once a significant part of your life. In a way, it can almost feel like you are losing a big part of yourself in the process. This can easily cause us to feel lost, and in a desperate effort to feel “found” we sometimes will search for external sources in order to make us feel complete again. If a partner breaks up with us, we immediately look for another one. “thank u, next” teaches us to find that kind of love within ourselves before scouting for validation from another person.

I remember that feeling of significant loss hovering over me after going through a terrible breakup with my first love. I would just find myself trudging through life like some kind of zombie, emotionless, feeling like I was only half of the person I used to be when I was still with that partner. Who was I without my other half? What kind of person was I to become? My whole world felt as though it had come crashing down, with my expectations of security and comfort evaporating all at once.

Yet as terrible and incomplete as I felt at first, there was still a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel. I knew that because I was no longer tied down to anything, I now had the entire universe at my fingertips. I could finally take whichever path I liked, wander down whichever road, and knowing that alone was the most liberating feeling. Was I terrified to suddenly have all of this freedom? Of course. But it was a brilliant kind of terrifying, the kind that only creeps up when you’re in the process of pure growth.

In that process of growth, I was finally able to take all that love I had for my ex and manifest it into myself. The journey to self-love is a difficult one, but once you embark on it, you will feel more empowered and dignified than ever before.

In a lot of ways, I wish Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next” would’ve come out sooner. Its classy message of learning to be thankful for what you’ve lost, regardless of how much of hurt you, is an important one. It teaches us to look back on our past relationships with gratitude and poise, rather than spite. It teaches us to put all of that energy we could be wasting on anger and hate into self-love and appreciation.

Ariana singing the words "I turned out amazing"
[Image description: Ariana Grande singing the words “I turned out amazing” sitting in a garden recreating the scene from Mean Girls]

If we can learn to love and appreciate what we have to offer the way Ari teaches us to, we will turn out amazing! So go ahead, embark on that journey of self-love and gratitude. As soon as you do, you’ll have the universe at your fingertips.