Find yourself.. Then find love..

Yesterday in Minneapolis, I met a girl named Grace who told me her very inspiring life story. At the age of 16 she got married, as was her family custom to do so at a young age. She then had her first child at the age of 17. Shortly after she found out that her husband was cheating on her with her best friend. Yet, everyone around her told her that it was her fault, and that she should stick with him and be a better wife. Grace talked about coming to the realization that her husband believed that she would never leave him, because he was the only man she had ever been with, and as a result he would continue to do what he wanted.

In her words, she remembers deciding, “This is bullshit!” She eventually left him and even though she is a single parent, she now lives a very full life on her terms and is very clear on the kind of love and life she wants for herself and for her child. I commend her for her courage and bravery. I believe what sets her and anyone apart from those stuck in relationships they don’t want to be in, is finding self independence. Understanding that you are responsible for your own happiness and removing people who aren’t contributing, or even worse, causing you suffering. As the quote goes, Life isn’t about what happens to you, its about how you handle it. Instead of just accepting that situation and suffering through a miserable marriage, Grace took responsibility for her life and used it as an opportunity to grow. She found strength in herself and she now runs a nonprofit helping women, travels the world and has dreams of taking her daughter on mission trips. She realized that she would not be validated in her relationship and took action; completely rejecting what her family, culture and society was telling her to do with her life. It’s your life and you only get one.

It takes a strong sense of self to say no. No, this is not working for me. I am not getting what I need here. I am worth more than this. I deserve better than this. Understanding who you are, your values, self worth and how you define happiness is key. Then believing you can have what you want out of life if you put your mind to it and work your ass off. Being willing to do the work, go through the pain and work through challenges, also makes all the difference. But if you don’t inherently believe you can have or deserve better, then why would you walk away? If you don’t believe there are more fish and better fish in the sea, then you aren’t going to go fishing. Or if you know there are more and better fish in the sea, but are too lazy to get fishing gear, get to the sea and then wait patiently to catch a new fish, then you can’t complain about being unhappy. You’ll end up settling for that lover that you know is cheating on you. You will ignore the signs, when they are speaking to you loud and clear.

“Independent will is our capacity to act. It gives us the power to transcend our paradigms, to swim upstream, to rewrite our scripts, to act based on principle rather than reacting based on emotion or circumstance.”- Stephen R. Covey

I used to think love was the scariest shit ever. It scared me to death. Mainly because I have seen myself act so foolishly, risk my reputation and life at times, because I was so deeply in love. I have found myself consumed with thinking and rethinking about motives, intentions and most often the potential of partners who have wronged me. At a very low point in my life I started reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which changed my thoughts drastically on relationships and self-development. The author Stephen R. Covey, says we grow in maturity from dependent, to independent, to interdependent. He claims most people live in a state of dependence and take no responsibility for the events that happen in their lives. These are the kind of people you will often hear saying, “I hope I get a good job one day.” Or who take solace in the role of victim, instead of seeking to understand, forgive and come out stronger after challenges. He explains that relationships between an independent person and a dependent person will always be dysfunctional, as the independent person will always be in control and the dependent person will always be in a state of need.

He describes an ideal relationship is between two independent people who come together to become interdependent, both equally responsible for their own happiness, working together to grow and navigate life’s challenges. Explaining further that each person needs to be independent in his or her own lives mentally, emotionally, financially and career wise. I understand this concept is kind of hard to apply in certain cultures such as Graces, where society has sexualized males as independent and females as dependent. But if like Grace, you look at your situation and decide, “This is bullshit!,” I think its your obligation to make a change. Because ultimately you will be the one to inspire someone else to live a better life. Google Roger Bannister and the 4 minute mile story and you can see how impactful one person breaking the mold can be to the rest of the world. I believe as we move away from society mandated unequal roles, we will experience stronger and more fulfilled relationships, built on respect and trust between equals.

In the lyrics of “I Used to Love Him” Lauryn Hill beautifully sings “Thought what I wanted, was something I needed.” Two things here. Taking away your need for anything is vital, especially a person. Needing something or someone to be happy is a state of dependence. You are giving that person the power. But when you have two whole individuals that are choosing to be together, equally making themselves happy and capable of walking away, then you find devotion and dedication. Two people working together to earn others trust, build a solid bond and share life experiences. But I believe you only get here by doing the inner work and becoming the best you, that you can become. Getting to know yourself, finding out what makes you happy, so then you can become clear about what and who it is your looking for.

As Drake would say:

“Until you find yourself it’s impossible to lose you.. Because I never had you..”

Lesson Learned:

Lauryn Hill defines love as “respect and devotion.” Thanks to Covey, I define a relationship as two independent people, coming together to become interdependent. Understanding that alone, they are both whole, but coming together to become so much more. Working together to overcome challenges, experience love, grow and build together. That’s beautiful. I believe in loving yourself enough to know and believe that you deserve this. I believe in having the courage to walk away from anything that is not this. And I definitely love meeting people that believe this is true. I am personally on a journey to become more and more of an individual and I find the further I get, the clearer my picture of my future partner becomes. As a result, my Goal for tomorrow: Be A Fuckin Better Person!

This is day 7 of a 30 day writing challenge. #BAFBP