I’ve been thinking about this blog post a lot and how I was going to approach it. If I’m looking at the changes in my life as I approach 30, my relationships are probably what has changed the most. When I talk about relationships, I’m talking about all types: friends, relatives, lovers, partners, co-workers, and even my relationship with my cat. So, I’ll give them each a moment in the limelight.
My relationship with friends
As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that a lot of what I expected from my friends was me being lazy with myself. The validation or advice could’ve easily come from my own mouth to myself but I felt the need for it from my friends. That is not their job and it’s not fair to them to give up their energy because I’m seeking affirmation. I’ve tried to be the friend I seek out if that makes sense? I think about what annoys me in friendships and I try right my actions to reflect what I prefer in a friend. The theory is ‘what you omit you attract’ or at least that’s what I like to think. I would never want my friends thinking I was dependent on them because they have their own shit in their lives. Independence starts from freeing your friends as a support group.
Of course, there are days where you need a rant or a shoulder when you’re needing comfort. Your friends will be there, but offloading every single day without considering the baggage they’re taking on makes you a bad friend. They are not your therapist and always remember to ask how their day is going first before bombarding them with your issues. It can quickly become an emotionally abusive relationship if you keep using them as your backbone. Friendships to me have become a lot less ‘work’ as I’ve gotten older. There’s a level of insecurity when we’re younger to be around our friends all the time and to never miss out on anything. When you get older, you’re more secure in your friendships and you can recognize the real ones from the superficial ones pretty early on.
My relationship with relatives
Relatives are not chosen and that often leads to you thinking you are bound to them for life. That’s really not true and it is quite possible for a family to be the toxic aspect you need to separate yourself from. There will always be a family member who cares less and doesn’t put in the effort; I’ve learned that this can become quite damaging to yourself if you don’t put a stop to it.
There are dreams of families being very close and we see it in the movies how they’re constantly in touch chatting like they’re best friends. This does not always apply and it is so important to look at the relationships in your family for what they are. If you continuously compare them to others you’ve seen, you will end up heartbroken. Take them for what they are and appreciate them for what they are. Some families aren’t close and that’s OK – they have their good qualities too. Be thankful for the love you do experience.
My relationship with lovers
When I hit 27 or 28 (can’t remember when – it was more of a movement) I realized that I didn’t need the opposite sex to validate me. My preference is male for those wondering and I came to the conclusion that they don’t need to tell me I’m attractive or desire me. When I was younger, you’d hold your value to that validation and seek it wherever you can. I watch younger women and I hope that they’ll find their way to self-love because it’s liberating. There was a time when I was always ‘with a guy’ in some way be it sexually or just messaging each other. I was always ‘wanted’ by the opposite sex at any given time because I always had someone fulfilling that role.
Towards the end of my last relationship, I was getting nothing from my partner in terms of validation and I learned to give it to myself. Filling that void on my own made me feel incredibly powerful. When I became single I realized I needed no one’s affirmation but my own and that allowed me to be free from taking on a ‘lover’ or ‘current dude’. That’s not to say people who engage in casual sex are always lacking in the ability to validate themselves, this is just my experience.
My relationship with partners
Looking back, I entered into a relationship without being a full cup. I was a half-cup at best and I was looking to my potential partner as someone who can fill up my cup. That sounds utterly disgusting but it makes sense I promise. Literally picture two cups with water only filled up to halfway, no matter how you look at it, there will never be two fill cups. One can be filled but then you will drain another. One will flourish while another suffers. That was me during my previous relationships, I wasn’t full enough and I couldn’t give enough or be fulfilled.
As I approach 30, I realize that I can’t be good for anyone if I’m not all right with myself. I can’t be fighting ready if I’m weak and unsure. That will not be me giving of my best self. I want to give of my best self and I’ve learned through welcome maturity that I have a little ways to go before I’m feeling my best self. Realizing that I’m not ready has been the greatest change in my relationships with partners and I’ve used the word partners because that’s how I view my significant other. Not as someone to pull me along through life, but as someone next to me sharing the load equally.
My relationships at work
Work can be divided into two categories, work for the sake of work and work that sets my soul on fire. Everyone has to work in order to survive and some take a job because they need to pay the bills/save money/get out of the house and other people work because it fuels their passion. When I work with people in a job that doesn’t set my soul on fire, they remain, co-workers, because it’s a place of work. If it’s a job that involves my passion and I race through the doors every morning to experience it, that’s when I make friends for life.
In regards to employers, when you get older you realize people aren’t as smart as you’d hope. People get their jobs when they’re not supposed to and they could end up being your boss. Just because a person is in a position of power doesn’t mean they deserve to be there. Never let anyone patronize you or make you feel less of yourself when you know it’s merely his or her insecurities at play. Bosses are humans and they are flawed, don’t expect miracles. I had dreams of having a mentor and then I showed up to work. If you have the opportunity to learn from someone, take it, but if they aren’t someone you want to learn from you don’t have to. Keep them at arm’s length and just see the job through without putting yourself in undesirable situations.
My relationship with my cat
My dearest, Lorde Archibald. I got my baby when I was at the lowest point in my life and he provided such love through that time. I may have rescued him but I depended on him so much at the start that he became my support animal. Work would end and I would rush home because I’d need to see my Archie. I’d wrap him up in my arms and just sit with him feeling his fur on my face. Once I started healing I started giving him more of what he wanted – freedom. When I first got him, my apartment wasn’t the best environment for a cat and we were on a busy road. Once I took him back to my childhood home I realized what he actually craved, being a proper cat.
I included him in this post because he’s part of the most mature decision I’ve made in the last year – I didn’t bring him to Korea. When I say I miss him… I literally have an album on my phone of his pictures and I look at them almost daily. I zoom in on his fluffy little paws and almost cry. There was no doubt in my mind of what I wanted, but what did he want? Back home, he has an estate to roam around in and he has my parents to love him unconditionally. Here in Korea, he would have a studio apartment and a mom that is out all day at work. It would be for my selfish reasons. He’d also need to endure a horrific flight to get here and I can’t even speak about that without getting emotional. Watching him in a cage going down to the cargo hold on a three-hour trip literally sent me to ‘crazy mom’ status. He was sedated and has hopefully forgotten the experience, but he hated every minute of it.
Lorde Archibald, you have taught me to not be so selfish and put your needs above mine. If we’re being honest, I sometimes still look up ticket prices for him because my heart literally breaks not having him here.
Where I see my relationships going…
Those are the ones that immediately come to mind and that have changed dramatically over the last 10 years. I feel all of these relationships are evolving over time. They’re ever changing and it’s often a struggle to adapt to these changes. It can cause you pain but it can also give you strength and self-confidence in knowing yourself and others. You do not hold power over others but you do hold the ability to control your emotional responses to how people treat you.
Thank you for taking this journey with me.