Balancing Act: Balancing Your Individual Identity While Developing a Relationship
By Cathleen Elise Rossiter
“I am not an angel,’ I asserted; ‘and I will not be one till I die: I will be myself. Mr. Rochester, you must neither expect nor exact anything celestial of me – for you will not get it, any more than I shall get it of you: which I do not at all anticipate.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
As an independent sort, I have never been one to follow the crowd. Belonging to the In Group never made sense to me, since in my eyes, everyone is the same, we are all in the same group. It hurts at times, not belonging, but I was never willing to pay the price of admission – my Me.
As a business owner who struggles like every other business owner to find one’s place – what the best way to structure, run, and market the business is -, I find that as much as I rely on the experience and expertise of those who have gone before me and succeeded, their way does not suit me, does not work in my business as it does in theirs. Similarly, what works for others in their personal relationships does not work for me in mine.
Each of us struggles to find our way in the world, to get to know who we are at our core. Some struggle harder than others to unearth the treasure of our Me, the treasure of our true self that we seem so afraid to display. Oftentimes it is easier to become what others say we should be because experience has shown us that others cannot be trusted to value our treasure properly. So, we never take it out, we bury it under someone else’s vision of who we are.
When developing a relationship of any kind, it is critical (if one intends on developing a solid, healthy relationship) to know yourself solidly, to be so comfortable with your real self that no one has the power to determine your value, your worth, or your happiness. If you place that power and responsibility into someone else’s hands, they will always get it wrong and you will always be unhappy. The relationship will never be healthy because you will have given up responsibility for the outcome and thrown the balance off kilter.
Many people fail to make the distinction between asserting one’s individuality as an equal partner and becoming a dictator. Too often I see relationships that fall apart because one or more parties are caught in the trap of rigidly dictating how the relationship will run, leaving no room for movement, stifling natural growth, overcompensating out of fear of being a victim that the offending party becomes what he or she sought to avoid.
This month, take the time to get to know yourself. Get to know the good, the bad, and the ugly as it were. Know what you want from yourself, from life, from others. Know where you draw the line on different issues and what the consequences are for stepping over these lines. Learn how to set limits and expectations while allowing for the humanness that will inevitably rear its head.
Solid relationships require hard work. Anything worthwhile always does.