If all else fails

This year, I decided to cut off certain things from my life.

I cut my long hair, I decided to stop seeing people for a while, and I turned vegan. Half a year in, and I’m proud to report that I’ve stayed true to 2 out of 3. I lost an incredible amount of weight, mostly due to the lack of vegan options available in the country. Since then, I’ve learned about 6 different ways to cook mushroom and tofu and have explored many meat-free (soy protein and plant-based) alternatives. Additionally, thanks to the hair cut, I not only look younger, but I also spend less time in the morning fixing my hair. I have saved so much on shampoo and conditioner.

Eye-opening NYC

In a defensive act of avoiding emotional turbulence, I’ve also promised myself not to go out and date for the rest of the year. It was not because I’ve been jaded or too hurt to try again, but because there were many things I had to resolve, internally. Also, thinking of having to go through the whole getting-to-know-you phase tires me. I’ve been taking time to figure out and face the things that trigger my anxieties, and wouldn’t want anyone in the cross-fire.

But, I’m no robot. I have may all that I need to turn me into one, but I have lost friends and opportunities because of it. Though I lose the risk of disability from sadness, I also lose the opportunity of true happiness and empathy.

So I thought that if I were completely open and honest about what I was going through, it would encourage deeper understanding, trust, and communication. I thought that for as long as I was open about the things that make me tick, flaws and all, I would not only be free to be my completely unfiltered self but I’ll also be able to filter people that don’t fit the bill. Thank you, next.

I’ve always had reservations about the supposed self-care advice to “let go of things that no longer serve you”. It’s as if everything must be on your terms and if the universe did not revolve around you, then that’s the universe’s fault. Because of the illusion of choice, accountability and compromise are virtues extremely rare and undervalued.

This is me, deal with it.

Honesty does not give you license to say what you wish. It’s so easy to turn truth into a weapon to cover viciousness. I used to always think that telling the truth and speaking my mind was a way to show seriousness or courage. But more often than not, it has been callous. I am empowered by positive words of affirmation, and equally affected and easily burdened by negatives.

The world is not here to serve us and we risk losing people we care about because we hide in the covers of brutal honesty. It’s not about omitting or saying what people want to hear but instead making sure that we couple that honesty with something constructive and actionable.

Managing expectations

Last night, I got into a friendly debate with one of my teammates on “managing expectations”. In context, a friend had noted that her long term relationship was “all about managing expectations”, to which my teammate perceived was a jab at an otherwise fitting relationship.

He argued that no one expects more than what they want when they are told to manage expectations and therefore the act itself connotes a negative. You don’t expect more salary when you are told to manage expectations. I explained that while this may be true in some contexts, I don’t think it applies as a total negative in relationships.

Relationships that are truly worth protecting require a deep sense of understanding, trust, and compromise. Maybe managing expectations is not a vertical scale where one end is a zero and the other a hundred. Maybe it goes horizontally where neither ends are totally bad or good, they’re just two different things. “Visiting family and friends more often” versus “alone time”, for example. While one can favor a certain way to spend their weekends, partners manage expectations and come to a compromise because ultimately, the end goal is time together.

This is a dealbreaker.

Of course, not everything is worthy of compromise. Infidelity, insensitivity, jealousy, hotheadedness, indecision, poor hygiene, being rude to waiters… there are certain things that are not up for discussion.

What differentiates tenable characteristics and habits from those we walk away from are your guiding principles. If you’re anywhere over 25, your values should be unshakable by now. If you’re not working towards your purpose, your end goal, then what are you truly living for?

“I wonder how many people don’t get the one they want, but end up with the one they’re supposed to be with.” —Fannie Flagg

I wake up every day wondering if this will always be my reality: to analyze and question over and over and find insincerity in almost anything and everything. This is not a permanent truth for me, but, it is true nonetheless.  Telling anyone to simply deal with it, with my state, is not only immature but selfish. Recently, I’ve learned that the best way around it is to match our truth with a certain level of compromise — to meet halfway and work towards a relationship that is as certain as it is genuine.

If all else fails, we must move forward.

XX, C

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