My valuable time I really wish I could shake my younger self and say, “Don’t answer his call! He’s just going to keep you on the phone for the next two hours having a pity party for himself so that you constantly feel sorry for him!… and continue to do so over and over again for the next two years, offering you nothing in return.” Sigh! Let’s have a moment of silence for all the meaningful connections I could’ve been nurturing in that time.
Self-care Not to be confused with the above, taking personal time is such a valuable thing in your youth because you’re still figuring out who you are and who you want to be someday. You can’t nurture your own personal development if someone else is filling all your time with their issues. Instead of taking that time to look after myself, I focused all of my my energy on guys who didn’t deserve any of it.
My sense of self I remember being detached and unforgiving when it came to evaluating people’s characters when I was younger. However, my judgment of friends was a lot more discerning than it was for guys. Once I started developing feelings for them, I began excusing their behavior and sticking around even when I was being treated like crap. I was essentially becoming someone I never wanted to be. I just needed to hear someone say, “Don’t sacrifice your authentic self while trying to be what he needs you to be.”
My needs I don’t know if my younger self had a secret talent for attracting selfish guys or what, but quite frankly, I remember giving a whole lot more than I received in the emotional department. I would tell my younger, naïve self to quit prioritizing his needs. My own were just as important.
Other, more important and enjoyable plans On the rare occasions that I did plan things like outings with friends or short trips with family, I remember spending chunks of my time texting and chatting on the phone with dropkick guys whose problems I shouldn’t have been shouldering. I wish I hadn’t sacrificed so many potential memories with people who actually valued me, but hindsight is always 20/20.
Sleep I know that people need to put effort into their relationships to make them work, but giving up rest for each other is not healthy when it’s happening all the time. I was on the phone at all hours of the night, knowing full well I had school or work the next day. Sure, staying up all night talking to your new partner from time to time is a fun part of young love, but I wasn’t staying up out of excitement but rather a sense of duty.
My standards After I developed feelings for someone, I would often find myself accepting their bad qualities along with the good. Don’t get me wrong, I never settled for just anyone in order to be in a relationship, but I did accept some otherwise unacceptable behavior just because I liked the guy. While they may have been little things like caring more about himself than me or throwing around sexist comments, they’re things I don’t condone or accept from anyone else—and these guys shouldn’t have been an exception.
My peace and quiet When you’re in a relationship, it’s hard not to absorb your partner’s struggles and fears. I still remember feeling anxious and overwhelmed after every conversation with one of my exes in particular. Feeling so much negative energy all the time really did take its toll. It’s great to be there for your partner and help lighten their load, there is such a thing as taking it too far, especially when they wouldn’t do the same for you (and these guys never did for me).
Happiness There’s a huge difference between sacrifice and compromise, and if I could tell my younger self just one thing, it would be this: True happiness means loving yourself just as much as you love others. Never give that up.
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