Long ago a friend of mine reflected on a friend of his, and his reflection has stuck with me over the years. He had observed that his friend, who used to be quite bubbly and energetic, became much more reserved and mellow since getting into a serious relationship with a very conservative guy. My friend was worried that his friend was changing who she was to accommodate her boyfriend’s expectations of what a good, proper, and (in their conservative Christian perspective) submissive woman was supposed to be.
I was never quite as bubbly as my friend’s friend. However, I was an introvert who often faked being an extrovert when I was trying to win people’s affection. And I worried that when I started intentionally choosing to act more introvertedly with people, that they would worry that I was changing myself for my boyfriend, too.
I’ve often thought about that girl, and although I do not know her, and although it is very possible that my friend was correct in his theory about why she stopped being so bubbly, for my own sake, I’ve hypothesized a theory of my own.
Perhaps she, too, was an introvert who got tired of performing for the crowds. And perhaps she finally got an opportunity to be and feel more like herself. Maybe the timing of starting the relationship while she was changing her behavior was purely coincidental, or maybe her new boyfriend encouraged her desires to be more natural, more of who she was intended to be all along.
I will never know. But I do know me, and I know my man, and I know that I am my own person forming my own identity alongside another person forming his. Hopefully influencing each other in positive directions. Interestingly enough, my guy actually loves it when I act more bubbly, but doesn’t hold it over me as an expectation because he knows that isn’t what I want to be most of the time.
I guess the life lesson I’m gaining from all of this is to not superimpose onto my life what my friends and family say about other people’s lives. I do this waaaay too frequently–automatically assuming every bit of gossip is a “sign” for my own life. Maybe sometimes it is, but the task ahead of me is to learn to sort through which pieces of other people’s business are applicable to my business. And maybe even offering an alternate perspective to my friends making assumptions about their friends.
May you, too, sift out the “signs” that are truly meant for you.
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