I made a grievous mistake in my last serious relationship – I lost myself in an attempt to be everything to someone else. Granted, I was also 19 years old and didn’t exactly know who I was to begin with, but whoever I was, my opinion of myself hinged entirely on my significant other’s opinion of me. And when he went away, so did any belief that I was worth anything.
Flash forward six years, and obviously it’s a different story. In the midst of a healthy relationship, I’m still very much me, and I know exactly who that is (even though I can admit that it changes every so often). I won’t say I learned quickly how important it is to maintain your sense of self in a relationship, but I will say that I learned the lesson well, and I consider it to be one of the most important keys to a healthy relationship, both with yourself and with someone else.
Because the truth is life is in constant flux, and the only thing you really have guaranteed, 100%, is you. That’s why it’s so important to stay in touch with yourself. To write, read, cultivate your hobbies and passions, keep yourself a full and happy person. It’s a job that’s easier said than done, especially if you’re prone to putting the needs of others before your own. But it’s absolutely vital. We take a lot of time to get to know other people, but in general we don’t take nearly as much time to get to know ourselves. And really, that wouldn’t fly in a relationship with another person, would it? Not getting to know someone deeply because they’re just always around and always will be around, so they don’t require further understanding. That can often be the way we treat ourselves, because we live with ourselves everyday. We assume we understand ourselves simply by virtue of being us, but that isn’t necessarily true. I find that my needs and wants are often changing, whether by virtue of my youth or just the way I am. If I didn’t ask myself questions or examine myself, I would be apt to find myself ten miles down a path that I should’ve turned around on nine miles ago.
And the best part about getting to know and love yourself? You’ll always be okay, no matter what, because you’ve got you. Life may throw you a curve ball, you might suddenly find yourself alone when you never thought you’d be alone again, you might suddenly find yourself wanting something different than you always thought you did, but you’ll be all right. Knowing yourself doesn’t suddenly make everything perfect and lovely. Sometimes it can even make things more complicated. But it also arms you with the type of understanding that can give you peace and hope when things get tough. Because you’re lucky to have you – no one can take that away unless you let them.
You’ve got you, so you’re okay.