Lately, my mind has been focusing a lot on relationships. I’ve been thinking about romantic relationships, friendships, acquaintances and everything else in between, both past and present. We meet so many people in our lives and have so many interactions with them, it can be hard to keep track of everything and the impact they have on you.
In every relationship we have there’s something for us to learn from and experience. Every person comes into our lives for a reason. One thing I’ve always struggled with is balancing their needs with my own and finding the lesson in each relationship.
There have been so many times where I’ve been so wrapped up in thinking about the other person, I’ve completely lost sight of what I need and want too. Like a lot of others, I’m a people pleaser. I want to be the thoughtful person surprising them with their favourite meal, planning a fun day somewhere and trying to stay one step ahead of them to make their life easier. (This applies to friends and romantic partners too).
Being generous and kind-hearted are qualities I admire, so they’re something I aspire toward. But in the long-run I found I was really burning myself, chasing other people’s needs all over town and neglecting my own. Without realising it I had totally shifted my happiness to depend on someone else’s reaction to what I did for them. This became so big, I lost site of my own desires altogether and was blindly following a path I didn’t really want to be on.
Before I’d ever done any kind of real travel as an adult, I remember telling someone close to me I wanted to travel the world. They were completely shocked, it was something I’d never even mentioned before and they couldn’t understand where it was suddenly coming from. That reaction put a lot of doubt in my mind. If I’d never mentioned it before, was it really true? If it meant so much to me and was such a big part of me, wouldn’t I have brought it up sooner? Was I making a huge mistake?
A big challenge we face sometimes is the people in our lives adapting to the changes we make. Their reaction to our dreams and ideas can have a huge impact on us, both positive and negative. If we confide in someone and receive nothing but support it encourages us to move forward with our plan and fills us with inspiration. If we’re met with negativity, confusion, frustration and concern, it can make you question everything you’ve been thinking and, sometimes, change your plans altogether.
The people challenging your ideas are there to test you. They’re a big fat test, sent to find out how serious and committed you are to your plans, dreams and ideas. Will you stick with them, despite what someone else thinks? Or will you abandon them?
I had a chance to live overseas with my extended family when I was a lot younger but someone challenged me when I said I wanted to go and I changed my mind. I convinced myself I didn’t really want to travel and I was happy putting their needs ahead of mine. Looking back, it’d be easy to think of that situation as a mistake and wish I’d taken the opportunity when I had the chance. But I know I made the right decision at the time.
The way I felt missing out on living overseas ignited a fire in me and made me never want to miss out on travel ever again. If I hadn’t said no the first time and felt really crappy afterwards, I wouldn’t have been as focused on what I wanted when I had a choice to make the second time.
Now I have a better understanding of who I am I have a smaller number of friends, but people I consider life-long friends and soulmates. The kind of people you can talk to and see every day and not get tired of them or see once a year and feel as though no time as passed. The kind of friends you don’t have to explain yourself to or justify anything, the people who just get you. You can show up to their house wearing baggy old scraggly clothes, your hair unbrushed, looking absolutely feral and have them not blink an eye.
Just because you lose sight of what you want, doesn’t make it any less valuable or true. If you’ve been ignoring your dreams for a long time the chances are those thoughts have been building and growing and you’ve been thinking about them more. They’ll continue to do that until you finally give in and listen to them, trust me. Not verbalising or sharing your dreams doesn’t mean they don’t mean something to you, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
When you do hone in on what it is you want, you’ll probably be met with some challenges and obstacles. Don’t diminish your dreams for anyone or anything. Trust yourself to know what’s right for you and keep moving forward. If there’s something standing in your way, remove it and keep going.
Someone asked me not too long ago what gave me the courage to leave my job and write/blog/travel full time. The truth is I felt like I didn’t have another option. I wanted it so bad that there wasn’t a situation in my mind and my heart where I didn’t try. Going for it and making it happen were the only option available to me, that’s how bad I wanted it. Nothing was getting in the way of that, not money, not other people, not fears. Nothing.
If you come up against someone you’ve had a relationship with who is challenging you, friend or lover, actively look for the lesson. Why are they challenging you? What about your actions is challenging them? Is this your lesson to learn or theirs?
I came up against this when I was leaving my job, I found some negativity coming my way and couldn’t understand why. My dreams weren’t affecting this person, it had nothing to do with them. Turns out the other person was just frustrated because they had to stay in the role I was leaving while I was breaking free. They weren’t pissed off with me as much as they were frustrated with their own circumstance.
No matter what you come up against, and there will be plenty of it, you are in complete control. The most important thing is your commitment to your life, your dreams and following your heart. If you put your time and energy into looking after these things first, rather than people-pleasing and looking out for others first, you will make yourself so strong that someone else’s negative reaction bounces right off you. Remember the old, “I am rubber, you are glue. It bounces off me and sticks to you.” That still applies, guys. Embrace it!
Have you come up against loved ones, partners or friends who have challenged you and changes you’ve made? How have you overcome them? What lessons have you learned from these situations? I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts, so please share in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.
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Phoebe Lee is a writer, award-winning blogger and travel lover sharing helpful travel tips, insight and reviews for regular people. Follow her adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.