A little over a year ago I read an article on Thought Catalog titled “You Should Choose the Lifestyle You Want Over the Person You Want”.
At the time of reading this I was nineteen and one year into my first serious relationship. Ah, young love, I bet you can figure out how this ends already?
Let’s back up even further. Before I was blinded by young, naive love, I was a cynic when it came to love. I made it throughout high school without giving dating so much as a second thought. I saw men, or rather at that time; boys, as a distraction.
At the time I met my now ex-boyfriend I was out on a girls night, celebrating one of my first last nights in my hometown before I moved away to school. I had a plan; I had tunnel vision towards my successful future that didn’t have a single serious relationship in sight for at least five years. I was going to get a university education, study abroad, and then do the typical one year backpacking trip after I graduated and then enter corporate hell. But of course, life never works out as planned right?
So, me and said boy entered into a summer fling, a fling that we quickly realized was something a lot more, and with a looming expiration date. To make a long story short, two months into said fling, or not fling, whatever it was, I got on a plane and headed to Europe. My first solo trip overseas. And as you do after your first trip overseas, I came back a new person with a different outlook on life. My five-year plan sounded preposterous, too inside the box in a time when I wanted to be so far outside the box. So just like that I went from planning my class schedule to planning my next trip, and hey would you look at that, me and said boy could dive head first into this thing as young and reckless people in love do.
In retrospect this may have been the first mistake in our relationship doomed to fail. Over one year I was able to dedicate much more time to him than I’d ever be able to again. I even took him on his first trip overseas, sharing the most important part of me with him. So when I finally decided to move away to school, it was a shock to the system, but we decided to stick out, because we were in love, we were going to get married.
After two months he was ready to call it off and my world was turned upside down.
Throughout our relationship I always remained true to my beliefs. I was in a happy, loving relationship, but I was still true to myself. I still had my dreams to travel the world, only they now included him; the “love of my life” and I were going to live out these dreams together. I was going to have it all; the guy and the life. Only once again, life proved me wrong. It took me moving away for us to realize our dreams didn’t align and that’s when I compromised mine. In a moment of weakness, staring down the black hole of losing the person I loved, I become someone I didn’t recognize. Even though it was only for a brief moment, in that moment I was willing to give up several pieces of myself in order to keep him, because that’s what love was, right? Sacrifice and compromise?
I am so fucking glad I woke up from that twisted nightmare.
In a moment of weakness I was willing to move back to a town a hate, give up my dreams of studying abroad in Berlin, of working in Hawaii, of travelling the world, for what? A boy. The thought of that person makes me want to vomit, because that person was not, is not me.
And that’s when I came across this Thought Catalog article again. It was like a breath of fresh air, or rather familiar air. A reminder of the person I was before I met this boy, a reminder of the person I really am. This article reminded me that love shouldn’t be the biggest compromise of your life.
“You should be able to be with somebody you love and also live a life that entices, invigorates and inspires you. You should be able to pursue what you want out of this world in every fearless way you want to without running the risk of losing the person you value most. You should be able to have, at the bare minimum, a relationship that allows for growth and exploration on the part of both parties.”
Reading this paragraph a year and a half after the first time I read it, in a completely different city, with an aching heart, I felt whole again for the first time. I felt whole because I knew I had just dodged a bullet, because that boy was not the boy for me, not the one I was supposed to end up with. That boy wanted me to compromise my dreams, to change my plans, to abandon who I was, in order to love him; and that’s not love. I don’t care how many Nicholas Spark’s movies tell me otherwise. The man I end up with will encourage me to explore every god damn inch of this globe, to learn every new thing I can dream of, and pursue every opportunity I’m given. The man I end up with will not force me to sacrifice or compromise any of my dreams or aspirations, that’s exactly why he’ll be the man I end up with.
So I’m thankful I chose the life I want over the person I want. I’m thankful I’m choosing my dreams over him. My saving grace is that I realized my stupidity early enough. Imagine me, in thirty years, sitting at home with this man I apparently love, living a mediocre life, wondering about what would have happened if I had let go of love and chased my dreams?
Basically, what I’m trying to say is, if you find yourself having to choose between your dreams and love. Choose your dreams. Choose the world. Choose to travel. Choose to go.
Love will always be there.
People will always be there.
To make you make you happy, to change your life, to build you up, and break you back down again. It’s a cycle you’ll experience many, many times in your life. With lovers and friends, and it’s a cycle you should be grateful for, because I’m confident that people, lying, cheating, awful, people are brought into your life to remind you of the bigger picture.
The right person will not have to remind you of that big picture, because they’ll be part of it. The right person will love every piece of you. The right person will encourage you to chase your dreams and will be waiting for you when you get back. The right person will push you to pursue your goals, not try to keep you down on their level.
So be selfish. Don’t settle. Choose yourself before anyone else.
And if you find that after you’re done chasing your dreams, you still really miss that person, and you really need that person with every fiber of your being. Then be as fearless as you were when you decided to walk away and go find them. But I promise you, by choosing yourself and doing what you love, you’ll find the real person you should be with, so don’t settle for anything less.
“At the end of the day, love is wonderful but it isn’t enough to make up for an entire lifetime of compromising your core values. You don’t want to spend forever gazing into somebody’s eyes expecting to find all of the answers you need inside of them. Wait for the person who is gazing outward in the same direction as you are.