When I was younger, I wanted to please people. I wanted approval. I stayed in relationships too long because I avoided asserting myself. I avoided telling my boyfriends what I wanted. I didn’t want to hurt other people, even if that meant hurting myself. It’s one thing to compromise in a relationship, another to put your goals on hold because you think you might rock the boat or make your partner feel threatened.
Don’t be a martyr. The truth is, some of us are ambitious. We want to push ourselves and reach for the sky, even if there’s a good chance we’ll never grasp it. Ambitious people need understanding partners. If your partner is threatened by your goals, or worse–the fact that you might achieve them–they just might be holding you back.
I learned this the hard way, by staying in relationships with people that weren’t supportive. I thought about giving up what I wanted just to keep the peace.
What I’m going to say next may sound like a cliché, but often clichés persist because they’re well-worn truths.
You only get one life. It’s not worth wasting your chance because someone else wants a comfortable relationship or financial stability. If your partner truly loves you, they will stand by you. They will want what you want. They won’t make you feel small so that you give up your dreams. They won’t worry that if you “make it,” you’ll leave them behind in the dust.
They won’t ridicule you when you bare your soul to them.
They’ll listen. They’ll be honest and constructive with their criticism. And they’ll believe in you.
And if they really love you and support, you there are a few things they won’t do:
Get jealous. We’re all a little competitive. That’s the society we live in. But if your partner is constantly bringing you down when you achieve something, they could be holding you back. Do they collapse into self-pity when you get an awesome job, get an article published or land a gig…or even when you say something smart? Do they try and diminish your achievements or one-up you all the time? Get out of there.
Worry that you’ll leave them behind. If someone is afraid you’ll leave them, they’re insecure. True, we all have insecurities, and they’re no reason to dump someone. On the other hand, we need to learn to love ourselves before we can love someone else. Perhaps they see you as filling up a void in their life, or acting as a crutch to their confidence. Be careful that your partner’s insecurity doesn’t bring you both down.
Leave you hanging when you need support. So you just got rejected from a job, had a setback in your plan or even an epic fail. You feel like you’ve just been kicked in the teeth. You’re teetering on the edge of a spiral into a deep depression. Instead of supporting or motivating you, your partner doesn’t say anything. Maybe they just talk about themselves, or maybe they don’t seem to care at all. Even if you’ve made a huge mistake or embarrassed yourself, your partner should be there for you. Do they secretly want you to fail? It’s not worth sticking around to find out.
Tell you to give it up. Achieving your goals is hard work; there will be uncertainty, failures, stress, financial problems, tears, and maybe even the occasional meltdown. It’s fine for your partner to offer constructive criticism or to be the voice of reason, but if they focus too much on the negative it could be holding you back. If you’re really set on your goals, you don’t need someone telling you to give it up when times get tough. You need someone strong enough to weather the tough times with you.
Complain that you work too much. Are you getting up at 5am to work on your projects before you go to your day job? Do you spend every week night and your weekends at networking events or meeting up with contacts? Sure, it can be tough on your relationship, and you need to make time for your partner. But they also need to understand what you’re working towards. Chances are, they will benefit from your hard work in the long run too. You need someone that’s in it for the long haul.
It’s scary, but sometimes you just have to let go and focus on what you want. You need to be confident in your abilities and focus on your own goals. Don’t waste your time, do what’s right for you.
Check out more of Rachel’s work at Review-Weekly.com