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Love can be one of the greatest feelings in the world and at other times it can make you feel completely lost and alone. It’s almost like a double-edged sword. When you finally meet that special person, it can be hard not to give your undivided attention to your partner and cater to their needs. However, neglecting your own needs and giving up on everything else you love, including your family, friends and hobbies can start to make you feel confused and angry with yourself. For me, this was challenging to navigate in the early stages of my relationship and even more difficult to maneouver in my marriage.
Once things started to settle in my relationship, I started to notice my weight creeping up, I had developed bad eating habits, neglected my hobbies I once loved and distanced myself from family and friends. I thought that my role as a wife meant that I had to take care of my husband and the household, keeping him happy in order to live up to his and my in-laws' expectations. I soon realized that I was losing my sense of identity in the process and was mad at myself for overcompensating and letting myself go. Before I met my husband, I was the type of person who would place high importance on my physical appearance and well-being. I would hit the gym five days a week, eat a wholesome and healthy diet, indulge in self-care products, keep up with fashion trends, and maintain relationships with my close family and friends. Growing up, I was also known in the Tamil community as “Meera the Carnatic/Bhajan singer” and I thoroughly enjoyed receiving praise and performing in front of large crowds. To think that I have completely lost myself over the years has been disheartening to come to terms with and it took a lot of self awareness and discipline for me to slowly start picking up the pieces and rebuilding those good habits and traits I once had. To those of you who may be feeling lost within yourself, here are some tips that helped me find myself again.
STOP BEING A PEOPLE PLEASER
Being a people pleaser is not always a negative quality to have, especially if making other people happy is something you take pride in or is part of your character or identity. However, if you find that it gets in the way of making time for your own goals or hobbies or affects the decisions and choices you make, then you are only hurting yourself and will forever feel like you are living for others and not being your true authentic self. Saying NO to things that no longer serve you is okay! You don’t have to drink or party just to please your friends if it’s not something you truly want to do. If you’ve started a new fitness and diet routine, you don’t need to please your parents or in-laws by eating more rice and curry just to make them happy. If you have trouble saying no, then start to assert yourself and be more straightforward and let people know what you are hoping to achieve. Now, it won’t be an easy fix in the beginning. Some people may be taken aback by these boundaries you set for yourself, but just know that you can’t please or be liked by everyone and instead shift your focus on bettering yourself and the path ahead.
DEDICATE SOME TIME TO YOURSELF
Experiencing solitude has really helped me center and anchor in with myself by turning inward and being more in tune with my thoughts and emotions.
By making the time to enjoy the little things in your own company, you will feel a sense of comfort, rejuvenation and be able to reflect back on the things that were causing you harm and pain. Sometimes it just takes some self-love to get back on track. To get started, go for a walk, take on a new or old hobby, enroll in a class, give yourself a bubble bath, read a book, watch your favorite TV shows without your partner, and get comfortable being alone. Not only will this help you gain your own identity back, it will also help in strengthening your relationship with your partner. Being in each other’s face can often create more room for petty fights and arguments but by creating some room and space, you allow each other to grow and cherish the time you do spend together.
RECONNECT WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY
Reconnecting with friends and family is important in every relationship. Having a social life outside of your partner and his family and friends is necessary for your own mental health and well-being. Besides, sometimes your most raw and silly moments come out when you are in the hands of good company. We could all use a little laughter or advice from someone other than your partner or spouse. Though the pandemic has created many challenges for us to come together over the past two years, we can now hopefully start planning more events or meet up with our loved ones more freely. Regardless of what the future holds with this pandemic, all it takes is a simple phone call to catch up with one another. So stop neglecting your friends and family and maintain close relationships outside of your relationship.
COMPROMISE ON THE SMALL THINGS
Sometimes compromises are necessary for keeping the peace and harmony in your relationship. However, if you find that you are always the one making sacrifices on the “small things”, your partner will begin to take advantage of this. For example, if you don’t enjoy eating meat, drinking cow’s milk, or listening to Tamil music in the car, do not always compromise nor change yourself just to please your partner. You are bound to have differences between each other but if you allow this behavior to continue, you will only be hurting yourself and it will set precedence in your relationship. Though it may not seem like a big deal to you now, over time a little part of you will slowly start to disappear. Therefore be mindful of the things you do compromise on and make sure that you are equally accommodating to each other’s needs.