#Shootyourshot2016: Top 5 Relationship Lessons from 2016
December is always the month of reflection, as we attempt to make sense of the last 12 months and, feminist or not, come to terms with that fact that we are one year older and don’t feel that much wiser. In fact, this January, we may actually feel dumber – think about it… We don’t have a female president. We don’t have peace in the Middle East. We don’t even have decent wifi at UVa. 2016 isn’t looking too good.
2016 was unique, though, in that it was also the year of the hashtag. We #PrayforParis (and some of us #PrayforIstanbul too), we recognize that #BlackLivesMatter (and some of us still insist that #AllLivesMatter), and yes, we still follow #Kimye. But 2016 also challenged us to shoot our shot – loosely stated, to go for it, whatever “it” may be. Submit that application. Purchase those thigh-high boots that you don’t think you can pull off. And send that text.
I shot my shot in 2016, and nearly suffered a heart attack because of it. But about 5 minutes of recovery time later, I let that shit sink in… my best friend is actually my boyfriend now. The one person in the world who has seen my ugly, witnessed my crazy, and watched me literally fall down a flight of stairs because I still don’t know how to walk in heels (some feminist, huh) actually likes me. He actually freaking loves me!
Now you’re thinking 2016 was my “happily ever after” year and I’m just bragging, right? Wrong. Well, maybe kind of right – maybe this is my happily ever after, who knows, but I certainly don’t feel like Cinderella. My hair still gets frizzy, I still snore when I sleep, and I can still grow a mustache faster than he can. And on some days, I still doubt myself. I think to myself “real you isn’t as cool as the version of you he expected to date” and “pretty soon he’ll realize he doesn’t want you anymore”. I wonder if I did the right thing, and if the fairytale-fantasy was worth the real-life risk. But at the end of the day, dating my best friend has taught me a thing or two about relationships in general. So thanks to #ShootYourShot2016, I want to enter into #DateYourBestFriend2017 with these things in mind. Here’s my top 5 love lessons from 2016:
1. Don’t compromise
We have to compromise on so many things (too many things, really) every single day. We compromise with ourselves (I’ll let myself eat that burger but I have to work out 4 times this week), with our friends (oh you guys want pizza? Alright, I suppose), and with our family (Fine, I’ll wear the stupid sweater because yes, I remember, you’re still paying for my rent). But you don’t have to compromise here. Not with the person that liked you before you even knew how to present yourself. You were never your “I’m approachable and dateable” version or your “I’m competent and professional so please give me this job” version for this person. You never tried to impress him or fit into any idealized “model” for him. So don’t start trying now! There’s no need to refine any edges or mask any imperfections. I’m not saying your self-growth should come to a halt, but I’m saying it should remain self-growth – your goals should be YOUR goals and not what you think he wants you to become. Be loud, be fierce, and be your complete, true, annoying, obnoxious, vulnerable, self-conscious, perfect self.
2. Debate (without arguing).
The Celtics are better than the 6ers. The Weeknd’s new album is better than J. Cole’s. Tom Brady is more relevant than whoever-plays-for-the-Eagles will ever be. Beauty and the Beast is the best Disney movie, Future’s “Beast Mode” is a classic, and grey is not a color – it’s a shade.
Nothing personal, just facts.
3. Be present.
Here’s the thing – you might look at this person and see him not for the incomplete, work-in-progress, 21-year-old that he is but see the future loving father, caring husband, and successful professional that he is going to be one day. And it’s completely normal. You admire him for the person that you know he can someday become, and you want to help him accomplish everything he’s ever dreamed of. But living in the future is like living in a list of expectations that real life is just waiting to ruin. Spend time planning your weekend, not your 25thanniversary.
4. Learn to let go.
He messed up. You freaked out. You’re thinking about every other time he’s ever messed up. You’re so deep in your feelings that you’re mad at him for the times he hurt your feelings before you even knew you had feelings for him. That time he said he loved you like a sister or walked away from you to introduce himself to that other girl – they didn’t mean anything to you at the time, but now you’re punishing him for it.
These things only matter because you’re terrified of losing him. But let go of all of the negative feelings, let go of your expectations, and even let go of him and see what happens – he’s not going anywhere. You can be mad at him for a whole week – 7 days without a single “I love you”, 168 hours without seeing him, 10,080 minutes without a single snapchat, and as many unsent “hey babe” text messages stored in your “notes” because you’re too petty to hit send as you want, and he’s not phased.
It’s annoying as hell. It’s annoying because he’s not going to chase you or freak out and throw a fit or write poems about how much he cherishes you. But that’s because he’s here for the long-run. This is that real life, here to stay, not found in a rom-com type of relationship. And it’s exactly what you’ve been waiting for. So you’re better off just letting it go. No like actually, Let. It. Go.
It’s okay. Everything’s okay. No matter what happens, everything will still be okay. I know it doesn’t feel okay when you’re ugly crying and trying to explain how you feel and he’s just staring at you, probably wondering to himself if you’ve always been this crazy and he just didn’t know it, or if this is a whole new you that he gets to explore. Meanwhile you’re giving him lists and pie charts, sports analogies and literature references, Cosmo and NY Times articles, trying to prove to him (and yourself) that what you’re asking for is normal and he’s just an idiot (which he is, sometimes).
But guess what – eventually he’ll understand what you’re trying to say, or he won’t. That’s literally it. That’s the worst case scenario. So, breathe, woman! And walk into 2017 like you mean it.