To Grow Together You Need to Grow Yourself

Today I’m sharing a 40-something woman’s reflections on what she wishes she knew in her twenties. Her path lead her from a small, conservative hometown to New York City to pursue the “Friends” / “Sex and the City” life where she rose to success in the financial services industry, worked through a breakdown after 9/11, got married and became a mom. She found herself at 40 living in the ‘burbs and asking herself…is this it? This is what she wishes she knew in her twenties:

On relationships: it all comes back to the relationship you have with yourself…

I don’t think you have to believe in the same things or do everything together but you have to continue to grow as a unit together.

What I know now is that it still falls on the individual person to do that. You evolve separately but together at the same time. For example, I went through a mid-life crisis last summer where I was questioning “Is this it?” Now my life is not a bad “it” to be honest with you. I have a good “it”.   But I made time to reflect on where I was with my life. I was actually able to go to my husband and say, “I just don’t know if this is all I want but I need to figure it out.”  And I took a few weeks to myself to do just that.

It’s natural for relationships to have ebbs and flows but if you don’t question it sometimes or don’t question where you are in your life, I don’t know how you’re going to grow or make your relationship stronger or your friendship stronger or whatever it is.

I knew I needed to find my smile again. I needed to find myself. Luckily, I have a partner who is strong enough and confident enough to say, “Okay you go do that. You figure it out because I can’t do it for you.” And vice versa. As much as I love my husband, if he’s going through a major life challenge, I can’t help him. He’s got to figure that out himself. It’s not my job to prop him up. It’s mutually supportive but not mutually dependent.

I would’ve given anything to have that advice when I was in my twenties because I depended solely on my boyfriend to build me up. Am I dressed right? Do you think I’m good enough? Do you think I’m smart enough? Do you think I’m pretty enough to go out with you right now?” I didn’t give myself permission to gain that self-confidence within myself. I just didn’t have it back then.

My boyfriend was quite a bit older than I was.  I wanted to be where he was already — to not be broke, to have career success, to have my own style.  I was trying to live the lifestyle of someone who had already grown up or at least had achieved financial success and frustrated that I couldn’t keep up or make it work.

If I had I’d known about self-acceptance and personal growth in my twenties, I’d be Gandhi:)  Now I’ve gone through the whole therapy thing and one of the tenets is that it’s got to be the “I.” It’s only you at the end of the day that can get yourself through whatever mess you are in. You have to learn how to pick yourself up and to learn from your experiences. You may call it selfish but I try to take care of myself first and then work with my husband and then my kids. It’s important because you’re the only person that can give yourself confidence. It’s not your surroundings. It’s you.


Thanks to this woman for sharing her story! It reminds me of a post I did a few months ago where a woman recommended having a mid-life crisis every few years. It’s a great way to make sure your life is in a alignment with your dreams and your values.

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