The process of writing works in two ways for me. Either I have a restless mind, and I need to write to sort through my thoughts and make sense of them. Or I get engaged in conversations, or have experiences or encounters, that make me think and then I feel the need to document these thoughts, in case they might resonate with someone else. Few of my recent posts have been of the former kind – attempts to ease a restless mind. This post today has been a work-in-progress in my mind since last Sunday.
Last Sunday I was talking to a friend who has been dealing with marital issues for number of years now. During the conversation, this friend said something that stuck with me. My friend said, “two years ago I felt like I had wasted so many years of my life trying to make things work. Today, I feel like I have wasted so many plus two years of my life. If I don’t gather the strength to walk away now, 5/10/15 years later I would simply look back and say, I wasted so many plus 5/10/15 years of my life. And for what? For other people”.
It was a very profound speech. It made me think about how hypocritical, perhaps even sadistic, we are as a society. When it comes to material things we are vying for self-fulfillment. I want a high-paying job, I want a big house, I want the most expensive car my money can buy. We amass wealth but don’t care to help someone in genuine need. We put ourselves and our desires first. But when it comes to things that truly matter, like something as simple as happiness, we preach self-sacrifice. “Compromise” is one word I despise more than anything else, and the statement “every relationship involves compromise” is the biggest lie that has been handed down generation after generation.
The way I see it, a healthy relationship does not make you feel like you’re making a compromise. To the outside world it may appear so but you don’t see it that way. If you do something that you wouldn’t otherwise, simply to make the other person happy, and their happiness makes you happy, you don’t think of it as a compromise. It is how good relationships function. There is a healthy amount of give-and-take because no two people are the same. And people derive happiness from each other’s happiness. On the contrary, it is a compromise when the other person’s happiness does not make you happy. You do things out of a sense of duty or obligation, and that is when you console yourself with the banality of “every relationship involves compromise”. My opinion on this has always been very clear – the day you start feeling like you’re making a compromise, the end is not too far.
And yet people choose to keep making compromises, and keep sacrificing themselves, like my friend, simply for the sake of other people. “How will the other person feel”, “what will my family say”, “how will I face the world” – are some of the common questions people ask themselves but never once do they ask, “do I deserve to be unhappy for the rest of my life?”. We are programmed to feel like wanting happiness for ourselves, real happiness and not the material kind, is somehow wrong, somehow selfish. It saddens me to see just how many people go through life without ever realizing that they have a right to be happy.
Some people think I’m not a romantic because of my views when it comes to relationships. In my opinion, I am a hardcore romantic and that is the reason why I have these views. I will not settle for anything less than love, and I will not sacrifice myself for other people. I have been in love several times. There was a boyfriend of 5 years, a playboy, and recently, a lost love. But I was a different person each time because people are always changing and growing. I could’ve been happy with any one of them, back then. I am not the same person today. So I will wait for the right person to show up. And when it is a love that’s meant to last, we will change and grow together, without making compromises.
So there are those who compromise, and those who don’t. But there’s also a third category of people, and the truly blessed ones I suppose if you believe ignorance is bliss. These are the people who are just too scared to be alone. They have never spent time with themselves and/or have no desire to do so. Although alone and lonely are two very different things, to this group of people they are more or less the same. Not having someone to hold and love makes them sad, hence being alone makes them lonely. They can lose themselves just to keep the other person from going away and leaving them behind. So compromise becomes a moot point because everything they do is to ensure that they don’t end up lonely. I was talking to someone else during the week who more or less falls in this group. He is going to be taking a trip soon but he did not sound excited about having to do it alone. So I suggested signing up for a guided tour where he could be part of a group. He responded saying that if the group is full of couples it will simply make him feel worse. The funny thing is that even right now, he is in love with two people as far as I can tell. But I can’t say if he’ll miss one or the other, or both, in such a situation. He’s the kind of person who loves holding hands while walking. On a date, he would sit next to the girl instead of across from her. But in all of this, it doesn’t matter who the girl is, as long as he has someone to love. He would still hold hands, still snuggle up beside her, and still love her the same way. Compromise, then, is non-existent in his world because happiness simply means being with someone, anyone.
Ultimately, it all comes down to one simple truth – we all deserve to be happy. We may have different ideas of happiness but it’s our right to seek that which makes us happy, and hold on to it should we find it!