I have this thing. An unexamined (until now that is) belief that to have “we”, as in relationship of any form, I need to give up “me”, both my independence but also my self expression, my Signy-ness. Not surprisingly, given my nature, which leaks out even in the title of my blog (Unleashed), I am not really all about giving up the “me”.
That is not to say I haven’t done it, in my youth, and in some relationships and in some jobs. Sold out the true expression of who I am to fit in, or belong, or be loved… or something. And it sort of works, for a while, but then I start to bust out, to break free, gosh darn it… to be myself again.
And that is not to say that compromising is not necessary in interacting with people. I don’t expect that I get to just be all of me, all the time with no restrictions or editing or limits – to bad really, wouldn’t we all enjoy our own version of that, but as I watch my godchildren be socialized and learn how to play nice with other – I realize that I do know the value of compromising, of working with people to find the middle ground that let’s both of us win. And it takes having that end-goal in mind, that bigger picture and respect for the “third entity” of the relationship or team.
So where is the line? When am I in fact giving up too much me, and when am I holding too firm, being so ridged that I break relationships? And is that line different for different people?
I think the key is to find a place – a job, a relationship, friendships – where I am me easily, so that I don’t need to change, but neither does the other. From a work perspective that is really what is behind the Strengths theory – to do what you do well, not try to change where things are not natural for you. And in terms of relationships, to find the friendships and the partnerships where the natural connection and inherent synergy of the people is what creates the foundation of the union. That way there is always something to fall back on in rough times.
And I see that I have that, the friendships that really last, that seem to be standing the test of time, I am myself in them. The jobs that were the most fun, where I stayed the longest – yes, it’s true, I got to me myself. Not just “got to”, was encouraged to do so, was valued for who I was and what I brought.
Seems so simple. So what leads us away from that? As I said before, that desire to impress, the desire to please, the desire to be loved and appreciated. But if I twist myself into a pretzel and then get loved for being in that new shape, are they really loving me? Seeing me? Valuing me? No – they are loving what they wanted, what we changed ourselves into. And that is where I get agitated, hot under the collar. It is why I fight, and keep fighting, to be myself, even if it costs me a few jobs or a few friends or a few partnerships – because the one thing I really, really can’t replace is me. And so my relationship with me – well it is the most important one. The goal for me needs to be a 10/10 relationship with myself, because without that I can’t have a 10/10 relationship with anyone else. Easy to say, hard to create, but that is where I am pointing my toes over this next little while.
And how about you?
What is your next step to a 10/10 relationship with yourself?