- Robert Tew
I was engaged a couple weeks ago. I'm not now, so as you can probably imagine I've been turning over a handful of thoughts lately. I'll admit the clarity that comes with the territory is nice, especially when previously something like this would have completely devastated me.
Emerging on the other side I feel more alive, and self aware than I ever really have. These past few years I've compromised so much for the sake of relationships. I've lowered my standards time and time again in order to give up on things I once cared about - to clarify, nobody ever asked me to do that, it just seemed to always happen.
I think the hardest realization has been how much of myself I gave up to make these relationships work. For the last 8 years I've done nothing but hope to meet the right person, and skip ahead to being happy, settled, and content. That if I just had that, I'd somehow be complete.
I think a lot of people are like that though. They settle, and compromise themselves into things they don't really love. After everything that's happened I've finally gotten to the point that I just don't care anymore. I want to graduate, get a job, and pursue what makes me genuinely happy. Being an observer in your own life gets old.
So I'm trying to be done with that.
And I'm not going to give everything up so easily. Emotionally I'm not there anymore, and it sucks that it took a failed engagement to get me where I am.
For the sake of this being potentially helpful - instead of a dull self declaration - here are some of my takeaways as of late.
1. Don't Rush In
What the fuck are you in such a hurry for!? Elvis Presley didn't sing "fools take their time, and think things through" for a reason. And yeah, this totally goes against my romantic nature, but seriously: pump the brakes.
This is bigger than relationships by the way. You don't have to be in such a hurry to get where you're going. Eventually you'll get there, even if you take your time, and go through all the motions. When you rush it, you overlook the small details that will bite you in the ass down the road.
Approach life with patience, diligence, and a willingness to do it right the first time. You'll be happier in the long run.
2. Don't Forget You
This is like the hardest thing in my world which totally goes against me being a Capricorn. I have an idiotically hard time putting my needs before the other person in a relationship. I'm a little better at it when I'm single, but in a relationship I tend to bet the kitchen sink along with my financial security.
You can't forget about your own personal needs and goals.
They're a part of you, and they are your future. Those are things that you not only need, but that you have a lot of personal control over. A relationship can burn to the ground, but your career will still be there after the embers die down. I realize this a paradox because it can go the other way, but being able to pay your bills probably matters a little more than being a little lonely in your 20's, and 30's. I couldn't tell you how this advice hits once you're up in your 40's because it's probably time for a midlife crisis where you reexamine some things.
I don't really know... I'm not 40.
3. Keep a Circle of Friends
They are your tribe dammit! Without them, you have little to no support. Going through all this, I ended up moving in with two different friends with my dog before ending up in my current apartment.
Point is, these are the people who have your back, and keep you on track. They pick you up when you're being stupid, or feel like nobody loves you. Don't go pissing them away for a person you just met because honestly, your friends have been there longer, and they love you in a way that this new love can't imagine. From experience: you can do the absolute stupidest shit in the world, and your friends will likely still love you, and try to get you back on your feet.
That's why they matter so much.
I would't be here if I didn't have the friends I have. I wouldn't be anything near who I am without the help, and care they've given me.
I repeat don't ditch your friends. Ever.
note: You won't hang out as much once you have a family, but still try to keep in touch.
I'll be straight up with you. I went through hell last year. Absolute worst year of my life, hands down, no question. Here's the biggest lesson I learned:
Your family is everything.
The whole point of dating/marriage is so that you can add to that family, but your direct family comes first. I have been drug through life's mud, and guess who was there to lift me up, give me a rinse with a hose, and get me back on my feet: my family.
I finally learned how much they really matter. It blows that it took what it did, but I now really know that they will do anything to see me succeed. A lot of hugs and tears later, I get that. I mean fuck, my engagement ended in the middle of them helping us move into a new apartment, so they witnessed that, I had nowhere to live, and within 2 days they had me into a new apartment (it's gorgeous) along with new furnishings.
Believe me, I owe them big time when they get up in years, but the thing is they don't ask me to be. They don't hold this over my head, they do it because they love me. That's their reason, and I'm making a point not to forget that kind of love because I hope I can pay that forward someday.
5. Get Comfortable With You
As I write this, my dog is chewing a bone, and I'm sitting at the computer with a cup of coffee. There's music playing in the background, and it's a bit chilly because the building radiators haven't kicked in yet. I'm not seeing anybody. I fight to get up at 6:30 a.m. daily - found out it's not as tough as you might think. Right now I'm just focusing on being me, and figuring out my career path for the next few years.
For the first time, in a very long time, I'm good just being by myself. Honestly, before this I never had been. Truthfully, it's something I'm incredibly thankful to finally be getting better at. Thing is, when you can't live on your own, you become dependent on others. You can't enjoy your own company, so you start to need the other person. I realize that's not always bad, but your happiness shouldn't hinge entirely on another person. Other people will often let you down. You only let yourself down if you choose to. There's a lot of empowerment in that, so don't dismiss it. Make peace with yourself, and life becomes much more bearable.
Well, I hope you can gleam something worthwhile from this post. I'm consciously trying to write more. Funny enough, I have plenty to talk about since last March. I just haven't gotten around to telling you about it - busy experiencing it I guess.
Break New Ground.