10.17.2013

Agreeable Conformity (15/31)

You know what the weirdest thing is?

Being alone.

My entire life I have been connected to someone. I’ve always had a person to check in with- ask how their day is going or let them know I’m home and getting ready for bed.
It’s sort of depressing and lonesome when you come home and it’s just you. No one to text, ‘I made it. Goodnight.’

I don’t really think people were meant to be alone…at least not all the time. I truly believe that people were meant to have someone in their life at all times. It can be a friend, a family member, a neighbor, a spouse or a whole community of people.

But everyone should have people.

I’m not saying I don’t have people. I’m just saying it is odd when you realize how many of your day to day things were sort of permeated by a person. And when they don’t really exist in that role anymore? It’s sort of strange.

You can do whatever you want and you have no one to answer to. You can easily fill your life and time with ‘busy’ things so you don’t even think about their absence. Or the emptiness can be so great; you can leave life behind and make a slew of bad decisions in an attempt to mask the loneliness. 
I don’t recommend the latter.

I find it interesting we often will hold back on expressing our true wants and needs when we are wrapped up with another person. For me, I recognize a pattern in myself of submission. In many cases, submission is a good thing- submitting to God, following the law, etc. that’s not the kind of submission I’m talking about here.

I’m talking about the kind of submission that I’m going to call agreeable conformity. To me, the definition of agreeable conformity is this: the idea that in a relationship that we set our feelings aside to conform to whatever our partner wants in an attempt to be perceived as agreeable and easy. This may or may not be a conscious decision. In my life, I’ve done this a few times- often in a romantic relationship. Setting aside my personal feelings in order to align with whoever I was with. I want to be clear on one thing- I do think some submission is required in some capacity to make a relationship function- each person has to give a little and compromise. That’s not what I’m referring to here.  I’m talking about failing to express opinions and feelings on behaviors and decisions out of fear or rejection. 

Recently, I had an epiphany about myself. (Yes, another one)

I don’t always like to express exactly what I want or feel because I don’t want to be a nag. I don’t want the other person to ever feel like I’m too much. I’m scared that if I just put it out there, maybe they wouldn’t like me anymore. Or maybe they would think I was too demanding. I’ve seen women (and men) be so difficult to their partner- constantly asking, constantly correcting, and constantly complaining- that it drove their partner away. It fractured the relationship. I don’t want to be that person.

I think there is a really fine line between being demanding and a nag, and expressing your feelings and opinions in a healthy manner.
I think sometimes in relationships that line can get really blurry.

When is it okay to say – this is a must have for me? Or is it really not that big of a deal?

When is it okay to say- I need this kind of behavior in our relationship? Or when is that just asking a person to change into who you want them to be?

I thought at 30 years old and a few failed relationships (including a divorce) under my belt, I’d have this whole relationship thing figured out.
Hmmm.
Not exactly.

I do think that most often agreeable conformity comes from a place of fear. It’s scary as shit to just OWN who you are. Like really scary. To share your true thoughts and feelings and hope it doesn’t scare someone else away. Because guess what? They might not like it. They might change their mind about whether or not you are the person they want as a friend or spouse.
You might feel super passionate about something one day and feel completely opposite of it the next day. People don’t like that. (Just think about political campaigns and how much people hate flip-floppers. HATE them.)

But we are human, you know. We are ever-changing, ever-growing and ever-evolving people. We’re fluid. What works in our worldview today might not work tomorrow. We can wake up one day and learn something new and it can completely change our perspective.

I don’t really know the answers to any of this- I’m just putting some thoughts out there. I’d love to hear your feedback.

Why DO we hold back on sharing our true thoughts and feelings?
Why DO we agreeably conform instead of challenging ourselves and those in relationship with us to change and grow?
How DO we move out of these places of fear and evolve into more empathetic, vulnerable versions of ourselves?

Yesterday, my friend Kelsey sent me this TedTalk on vulnerability. It happens to fit right into this post (which I wrote on Monday). I can't wait to hear what you think. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below or as always- email me. 


PS. These have been some DEEP blog posts lately. Are you getting sick of them? Because I sort of am. HA. Expect some recipes and fun stuff coming up. I have some BIG things happening in November and I can’t wait to share them with you! Stay cool, readers.