Let me start by saying that I do not want this to sound anti-feminist in any way. I truly believe that we should all be able to love life on our own, and on our own terms. And nowadays I do. But I must admit, it took my partner to show me how. I did not get there without a lot of help from him.
Sadly, many of us do not learn how to love life ourselves. We are raised in the shadow of our family’s expectations. Society teaches us that we must have it all and do it all. And the beauty industry teaches us that we must be physically flawless. Is it any wonder so many of us struggle to love ourselves and be happy with our lives?
Personally, I used to be a people pleaser. My insecurity manifested as doormat-like behavior, where I would sacrifice my own time and energy to do things for other people.
In previous romantic relationships, I always took a back seat, never asking for what I wanted out of a fear that I somehow was not ‘good enough’ to have it.
So what did it take for things to change?
I had to meet someone who did not want to take advantage of my people pleasing for me to stop living that way. When I realized that he loved the real me, and not who I pretended to be, everything started to change. My partner is not someone who lets people treat him like a doormat. And I started to learn from his example.
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I finally learnt to say ‘no’
It turns out that when you say no to what you do not want, you suddenly have all this extra time to pursue the things that you do want. And with that, for me, came the mental space to allow myself to do what my heart really desired. For me, this was a career change. I became self-employed and am so much happier for it.
A little bit of support goes a long way
I do not have my partner’s ‘approval’ as such because we both understand that approval seeking is dangerous. But instead, I have something better. I have his support.
Getting back on my feminist soapbox for a moment; we should not need anyone to make us whole. I really believe that we should be ale to pursue our dreams on our own. However, I must say that a bit of support goes a long way. I finally started loving my life when I started to understand what love really was.
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Loving my life is not about making it perfect. I do not have millions in the bank, a fancy car, or a designer wardrobe. I certainly do not have the perfect skin, hair or teeth. And I do not live in the sort of home you might see in a magazine. But I pursue my dreams, take the odd bold decision here and there, and accept things as they are.
Acceptance makes a big difference. I feel accepted, and I accept myself. This leaves me free to live how I want to and enjoy my days more. And that is so important. Our lives are finite; we do not live forever. So go and make the most of the life you have.