Rewind to 2014. I was tired. Tired of all the time I spent waiting, maneuvering my availability around his schedule, of waiting on him hand and foot. And it was entirely my fault. I had invested so much of myself in a relationship during high school and early college… too much. I finally realized that maybe all the strain I was putting myself through just to spend a few moments with him wasn’t all that worth it. Maybe there’s more to life than sharing my heart with somebody else.
Rewind to 2012. I had been in a relationship for a while, but somehow, all those years were still not enough and I felt that every free moment had to be spent with him. I convinced myself that hanging out with him was more important than hanging out with my friends, and that they didn’t understand me like he did. Truth was, I never opened myself up to them like I did to him; I never gave them the chance to really get to know me. But I didn’t realize that.
Rewind to 2008. I was in middle school, and it was completely normal to spend every minute of recess and lunch with my boyfriend. I barely knew him except that he liked video games and didn’t know a thing about tennis. Somehow, I thought that that was enough to say that he was my best friend and I’d steal every opportunity to hang out with him during my free time. Obviously, that didn’t last for too long.
Rewind to 2006. Nobody told me what it would mean to have a boyfriend. I thought that it was just someone to send cute valentines to and someone that you say “I love you” to without really knowing what it meant.
Fast Forward to the present. I have spent the entire year finding myself– for a long, long time, I didn’t know who I was outside of a relationship. Everybody who knew me instantly connected me with my boyfriend at the time. We were a duo, the two of us. But I had been blinded by my own actions and choices and didn’t realize how much more of myself there was to discover. So I took this entire year to get to know me, and it’s bewildering because I’ve found that I am exactly who I have always dreamed myself to be.
I know that sounds confusing, but basically, I have always wanted to be a social, fun-loving, carefree soul that dwelt in independence. And that’s exactly who I am now, and who I have been all along, but I’ve restricted myself with the bonds of being a relationship. I failed to see the beauty of spending time alone and the greatness of getting to know other people and reveling in their company.
But you see, it was all my fault. I allowed myself to become so incredibly infatuated with somebody that I forgot that there was a lot more to life. It was as if his presence was every gulp of oxygen that I needed to breathe or else I wouldn’t feel alive. It’s absolutely pathetic as I reflect back on it now (what was I thinking?), but I sheepishly have to admit that it’s partly because nobody ever told me that it wasn’t okay. And I could wish that somebody gave me sound advice back then… but I also am really glad that I learned this lesson for myself because it has taught me to be a more flexible, understanding, and open person in the past year alone.
However, I know a few girls that have trouble with finding that balance between making their boyfriends their entire world and neglecting him to the point that people forget that they are even together. And if I could say something to them, it would be this…
Ladies, you don’t want a guy (or girl) to be the reason you missed out on watching the midnight premiere of that highly-anticipated movie with your friends, or why you didn’t go to that party where the coolest thing of the year happened, or why you aren’t as close to your best friend as you used to be and reaching out to her during your lowest moments suddenly becomes an unappealing option. You want to be able to have your freedom and time for yourselves because there are parts of you that you need to cultivate on your own, that another person can’t help you with. You are your own person, not somebody tied down and walks with the steps of another. Think of how much beautiful your connection would be if you had your own world to share with him (or her); the dimensions of your relationship would be admiringly lovely.
On the polar end, you shouldn’t neglect your significant other and push them out of your social life too much to the point where they only feel like they’re only there when you need them to be. I see too much of this, where both people fail to appreciate the amazing person standing in front of them… And it’s sad because I can see from afar how great they both are and their potential of being so much happier than they could be. I think it’s okay to have your own space and grow individually, but I think part of being in a relationship means encouraging one another to improve themselves… and in order to do that, there has to be a healthy level of involvement in each others’ interests and other aspects of their lives.
There are always going to be ups and downs in any relationship (or friendship), but I think that the more we know of ourselves and how much more sure we are of our goals in the future, there would be less conflict. For example, in high school there were a lot of things about my significant other that I resented, and I picked unnecessary fights because I didn’t know any better. But now, those things wouldn’t phase me anymore, and I blame that easy-going nature on my certainty that I am the maker of my own happiness, not anybody else. Life is simply way too short to waste moments being angry, jealous, and bitter. It’s just so much better to smile and have a peaceful heart!
Just remember: You have full control of your life. It’s so easy to fall and allow yourself to follow the melody of another person’s tune… it really is easy to forget that you are your own person. But remind yourself that you wake up everyday in your own body and it’s your responsibility to make your own self happy. You’ll be surprised at how liberating it is to march to your own beat. Stay strong.