What my 20’s meant to me

August 28 2010

Relationships & Friendships
Since I have been asked what you learned at the age of 20 by my students, it got me thinking a lot about what I learned in my 20's. Twenty something. What an immense time of growth. What sticks out in my mind the most is that I was in a relationship with only one person form 16 till my entire 28’s. That story didn't end well, but it had a lot of chapters. Some great, some bad, with lots of suspense and drama lurking around every corner.

What did I learn? A LOT! I learned that I can’t look to someone else to esteem me. (What a big job that is for someone else to take on, isn't it?). And I shouldn’t want to give it away. It is precious and all mine. Forever!

I learned to respect myself because many times others won’t. And, just as important, them not respecting me really didn't have anything to do with me. It's their stuff, not mine.
I learned that relationships shouldn’t always be exciting. Drama all the time is not a good thing! Don’t get used to it, because when you do, when things get good, you may end up destroy functional relationships to feed on drama. I remember thinking, "I can't stand that boy who just thrives on drama." and sadly, I WAS that boy!

I'm not sure where along the way I got comfortable being uncomfortable, but it happened without me noticing.
I learned that you will get back what you put out. After the breakup of my 12 year relationship, Now I was so hurt and bitter. I would have rather been in a bad relationship than no relationship. So, my point is, that I got back EXACTLY what I had put out into the universe. I was sad, bitter, angry, mistrusting and hurt. Imagine that!

It took me until I was 30 to realize what I truly deserved. I always knew that I deserved a great women and a mutually respectful relationship, but I was always in love with what the women or relationship "could be if". "Could be if" never loved me back. I waited, and waited, but it never happened. So when I realized what I truly deserved, and truly believed, not just told myself, but truly believed that I was unworthy of it, it doesn't happened. And she got married, and she is truly wonderful. And the relationship has mutual respect, is functional, stable and carries the values that they both honor. It was all unworthy the wait and the journey.

After that situation I came to realize that some friendships in our life are also just not worth having. Why do we keep them around? Because we think it will get better? Because we don't want to hurt our friends feelings? Who knows, but truth be told, if it's toxic, it's toxic and you may as well throw it out. I don't have the answer on how to end toxic friendships, but if the friendship isn't supportive and empowering to you, then walk away. And the great thing about friendships is that you can reengage them later if it's right. I have had 2 really good friends where this has happened. At one point one of my friends let me go because I had so much drama in my life and she had her own personal challenges as well. She could not for her own sanity be supportive of me so she took a break from me for a few months. Yes, I was hurt, but I respected her for it and in retrospect, she couldn't be the kind of friend that I needed at that time, so why should she have to fake it? It's not like she was my only friend to lean on. Which brings me to...

I believe in your 20's is when you begin to discover which kind of friends you have and for what reasons. Any time you go through a major life change (marriage, divorce, death of a loved one, major career change, etc) you really do find out not only who your good friends are, but what role they play in your life. For instance, one of my friends will tell it like it is, no matter what. She is direct and honest. Sometimes, if I'm not ready to hear that kind of support, I don't call her. And that's okay. Another friend I have will never give advice, just listen and tell me she loves me and supports me even if I did something crazy. This is also the friend I could call from prison to come bail me out in the middle of the night and I wouldn't even need to tell her what I did. I have a friend that I couldn't call to pick me up because sometimes she's a flake, (I love her anyway), but she knows it and I love her because I can tell her anything and she would never judge me.

So, I guess the most important lesson is if you have a friendship that isn't serving you, it's time to get rid if it. It's like that rule of an item of clothing: If you haven't worn it in a year, get rid of it.


Pooja said...

I hear you man! I just got out of an almost 8-month drama-filled relationship that I thought I had to stick with. Totally resonated with this post.

Priya said...

Thanks prabhu! I tried to condense it all into a few paragraphs. Glad you liked it!