It’s two days until my trip to Vancouver and recently, there’s this wave of calmness that has washed over me. I don’t know where it came from and I’m not complaining at all. Calm is much preferred over anxiety if you ask me. But there’s some sort of inkling that things will fall into place in my favor and I just began to trust that the closer it gets to the day I leave. That I will get the higher position I want in the company I work for, and I will find an apartment that’s around my budget. That things will be okay. Things will be better than okay. Something in me knows that now and I’m trusting that that part of me knows more than my anxious scattered mind.
A woman I have a lot of respect for that works as part of the head department for the company and now my current store, came to me with all of the support and advice she could offer. She told me something people have been telling me for years and yet sometimes, certain things don’t seem to click right away…and then one day, they do. She told me to stop doubting myself, that I have a lot to offer and to show people that. That’s something I need to start bringing to the table, instead of my worries and fears.
So today, I wanted to talk about compromising and what it means in terms of your own sense of self and what it means within relationships. (I swear this will all tie together, just bear with me.)
I used to think that love came in fragments. That it was a waving motion that swept in and out of your life. That you had to match the current to stabilize it; to make it last longer. What I’ve understood lately is that love is already constant on its own. I’ve realized that any heart that beats is a heart that loves (whether we choose to admit it and be open about it, or not.)
But I’ve only recently understood that, which means that for most of my life, I tried to match any tide that wanted to wash over me. But I always found my own tide to be bigger. It would take over and consume the other, and more often than not, it would consume me with it.
One of my greatest fears has always been that I’ll be the one who cares too much, loves too much and feels too much. That no one else in my life had proven that they had the same extent of sensitivity that I did. I was always more intense with everything I did, meaning that I learned most of my boundaries by crossing them seventeen times.
So what exactly do I mean by believing that I had to match someone else’s tide? In less airy-fairy terms, I wanted to match someone else’s energy. Since I was drawn to people who seemed to not care about me very much, I decided that I would also be distant, withdrawn, and cold. Obviously on the inside, there was a lot more going on, but I got very good at my poker face. I got very good at making people believe that I didn’t feel anything at all. I wonder if at the time, they were pretending, too.
As the years went on, I wasn’t just drawn towards the cold, the distant, and the withdrawn. I was drawn towards people who were actually quite the opposite. Very affectionate, open and loving. People who were like the real me. It wasn’t something I was all that used to and I came to the conclusion one day, that I had forgotten how to not pretend. It felt like I had already done all this work to create this persona. I was tough, cold, unreliable, and often, in control. The case was no longer matching other tides, reciprocating what I received, but somewhere along the line, this was just who I became to my external world.
There are certain points in my life that I felt I had compromised too much of myself. That I gave in to what other people wanted from me and became the person that people wanted me to be. If I’m being completely honest, I felt pretty powerful at that time. It felt like for once, I wasn’t seen as weak, sensitive, and overly emotional, which was considered a terrible thing for a woman to be. I mean, how awful is it to be such a girl? No, I wanted to embody more of a masculine persona. It felt a lot more CEO and a lot less 90’s Soap Opera. (Don’t worry, the feminist in me is cringing right now at my old frame of thought)
I think compromise looks different for everyone which is why it can be so confusing. What I’ve understood as compromising is losing myself by being consumed of what another wants of me. I got so tired of being walked on and “compromising” that I became something entirely different. But what I never understood was that compromise didn’t mean admitting defeat or completely losing my own identity. It didn’t mean having to lose respect for myself that took me years to gain or just attain. Switching out to the person who is cold, distant, and withdrawn doesn’t mean you are strong. It’s usually just a mask for fear. And knowing me, I had…and still have, a lot of it.
I don’t know what meeting halfway looks like just yet. It’s something I’m still figuring out within friendships and romantic relationships. I’m starting to think that maybe it means something different for each relationship you have, for each person who is in your life. I realized that what I thought was compromise was just letting my loyalty become a sort of slavery. And when I embodied a more “masculine” sort of identity, I just wanted to reverse roles.
I think to understand what compromise really means within us and our relationships, we have to first align ourselves. What I mean by that is to understand who you are and who you are not. There’s this feeling of balance and calm that you get when you feel like the person you are with those close to you, matches the person you are on the inside. This alignment, this authenticity, and this understanding of your value and respect are the tools you need for anything that comes your way. And so when we find ourselves in another relationship, we won’t feel inclined to lose ourselves in it, nor will we not show up for it at all. We’ll just get to be and let the other be. Maybe that’s what compromise really is, simple and complicated.