My Granny’s favourite story about me was the time I was running and dancing around her garden with a piece of sheer, lacy curtain in tow. Granny asked this little four-year-old if I was a bird, my response just rolled off my tongue “I’m princess-ish fairy-ish, rather Snow White-ish Tinkerbell-ish.” Then I ran off and continued to dance through the garden happily and by myself.
I love this story, it reminds me that I have always been very independent and happy person who dances to the beat of her own drum!
Over the years my identity as a strong and independent woman has developed, it’s something I am proud of. Having a strong sense of self has pushed me to do some crazy and exciting things, even if it meant going alone! HOWEVER, one thing I hadn’t realised is that this identity had become very closely intertwined with my happily single identity (I was single for almost 2 years, not even dating and just loving life).
In my mind, in order for me to be the strong and independent woman that I was, I also needed to be single. So when I met my incredible boyfriend everything inside me shifted I felt deeply unsettled as I battled to allow this amazing man into my life. For the first few weeks I tried to keep him at arm’s length, I was scared that if I let him in, if I fell in love with him I would lose myself- but at the same time I didn’t want to push him away because he was (and is) wonderful. After many nights lying awake having debates with myself and trying to convince myself being in a relationship DID NOT mean that I had to lose my independence I gave in and allowed myself to fall in love and embrace this awesome relationship.
But at times it still felt so unnatural to have a man by my side, someone who wanted to be there through the thick and the thin. Someone who was going to challenge me but also someone that really loved me. I’ve had to learn to make him the first person I go to when I’m celebrating a win or struggling a bit emotionally.
Every time we would take a step forward in our relationship, I felt stressed, not because the relationship wasn’t right or that I wasn’t happy, but because I was letting Sean into more and more of my life. I still didn’t quite believe that I would still be able to be an “I” while I was becoming a member of a “we”. I have had some ridiculous debates with my family over this, including the one where I told everyone I didn’t want to be known as Sean’s girlfriend, I’m just Jess and that I don’t believe people should be introduced by their affiliation with someone. I was really struggling to have my identity being so strongly associated with someone else.
I’ve also had to learn this weird concept called compromise as we enter into a new and exciting stage of our relationship; sharing a home. Up until a few weeks ago when Sean and I had discussed living together I assumed that our house would be decorated in all things Jess- yes that means bright colours and lots of pinks and purples. I had not consciously thought about what Sean may like, I actually did not think I needed to discuss it, so when it came up and I discovered that he wasn’t happy with his stuff living in the garage… I was 100% shamefully surprised! How on earth did he think his prized poster collection would work with all of my pretty stuff!
This was a moment when I felt rather ridiculous but also annoyed that I was going to have to work with all this “man stuff”. We actually had to cut this discussion off because I felt so overwhelmed with all of the change I hadn’t realised I would need to face! I think this was the moment when I realised that while my strength and independence can still have a place in our relationship, it can’t run it. A partnership is exactly that, 2 people working together and that I need to start considering that other person in all of my decisions if I want this to work.
I’ve had to learn that being in love and having a partner doesn’t mean I can’t be me or that I can’t be independent and strong willed. BUT there are times, especially when we are making decisions together, that little miss independent needs to be a team player!