A day consists of 24 hours, and if we count out the sleep, the rest is probably spent around people. Many of us wouldn’t have it any other way—after all, humans are social creatures. Some people’s company you enjoy; others, not so much, but you have to hang around them anyway. How much are they affecting you? This question might seem strange, but it’s worth considering. A great deal of who we are is who we are in connection to other people. We maintain relationships all the time: We are employees or even bosses, we are daughters and sisters, friends and girlfriends. And sometimes it can be hard to remember to prioritize to the person that’s most important—ourselves.
What happens when our relationships ask too much from us? What is “too much,” anyway? When you care for others, you want them to feel as good about you as you do about them. You want your connection to be fulfilling, loving and nurturing. Sometimes that comes with a price: you don’t want to hurt them by saying or doing something you feel. Perfectly normal, because hey, a relationship is a two-way street and requires compromise. But what about when you want to do something for yourself, but hesitate because that’s not quite the path somebody sees for yourself? The last thing you want to do is disappoint them. They care about your wellbeing.
Go for it.
As long as you’re not hurting anyone else, you should just go for it.
Maybe you have a desire to move across the ocean and see if your luck is there, but your parents tell you they will miss you and you will break their heart. It can be quite unsettling: You know they love you the most and have done so much for you, the last thing you want to do is make them unhappy. Maybe you’ve grown apart from your significant other but they get along with all your friends—so well that it would actually be a pity to break the circle. Maybe you’ve realized your job doesn’t make you happy anymore and consider a career change, but everyone keeps telling you how good you are at it, and how uncertain the new path can be and you’re reminded of the money that’s been invested in you, only to result in you throwing that away.
And it’s not some strangers throwing criticism at you; no, you wouldn’t care as much and you wouldn’t value their opinion. It’s people who know you, and who care for you and wish you the best—and that’s what’s causing the trouble.
Luckily, growing up has given you two things: the knowledge of what you want—maybe not precisely, and that’s fine, but definitely a much clearer idea than you had at 18—and the ability to communicate. Use these things wisely. No more slamming doors! Communication is the key to negotiating this leap. Being able to say your desires and hopes and fears out loud is what can really help on the road to understanding and respect from your loved ones. If you know what you want, if you know what you want to do and have reasonable reasons for it, chances are those who love you will hear you out, and actually hear you.
But even if that fails, don’t quit. Turn to the other thing: that knowledge we mentioned. If you know what’s best for you in this moment, don’t give that up. Sometimes people won’t be happy with your decision even after you’d explained them why it matters. But if they really care, and they do, after seeing you shining and happy at your new job or exploring your new city, they will most probably come to accept it.
What if they don’t? That’s indeed an option, too.
But when you come home at the end of the day, close the blinds and turn the lights off, there’s only one person in the world you’re responsible to. Try not to disappoint her.