They say that when you get married, it’s most important to know the other person really, really well. Inside-out, from head to toe.
I disagree with this. I think it’s most important to first know yourself, then the other person.
I say this not as someone who’s passing judgment or as someone who claims to have all the answers. I say it as someone who, on a near-daily basis, questions everything I ever thought I knew about myself and who cringes to wonder what I would’ve been like with someone — for someone — had I married at a time when I clearly didn’t know myself that well. Or at all, really.
I still wonder what I want to be when I grow up. I have habits that I assume I’ll one day outgrow — until I realize that outgrowing them probably should’ve happened 20 years ago instead of things miraculously changing during my 36th year of life. I occasionally spin myself up over the smallest things, with no help from anyone else. I like to hog the bed. Sometimes I don’t pick my clothing up off the floor. I’m not the best at doubling recipes because I’ve cooked for one for a long time. Granted, with the exception of not knowing what I want to be when I grow up, none of these really has much to do with how well I know myself, but I have a hard time letting people in and letting my guard down. And I guess for anything to happen, those have to be the first things to change.
Some days I feel like I know myself, then I’ll read something in the news and wonder about my stance on an issue, on policy, on a candidate. Then I realize that my brain is easily turned upside down by arguments that can be made for either side of the coin, and then I’m back to square one: I don’t know…I just don’t know. I thought I knew, but now I’m not so sure. And so the circle continues.
The problem with the way my brain works is that it’s very linear. First this, then that. Before Z happens, X and Y need to first happen — and God forbid Y come before X, because we don’t need to upset the apple cart now, do we?
It’s a problem that has plagued me for the better part of my adult life, linear thinking is. But in reality, it doesn’t always allow for the unexpected bend in the road, the flat tire life throws at us, and it certainly doesn’t stand for throwing caution to the wind. But sometimes I like throwing caution to the wind, and once again I’m at odds with myself. Sigh.
Nope, I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do know that it’s likely impossible to know myself 100% before I’m good and ready and able to be with someone else. When does it ever happen like that? It’s a ridiculous expectation to place on oneself, not to mention it completely discounts any positives that someone else can bring to the table — can bring to you…positives which ultimately end up helping you know yourself even better than you would have without them.
And missing out on that would be a shame.
Tonight I am thankful for realizing that life, love and any sort of pursuit of another doesn’t have to be an all or nothing thing. It can happen when it’s forced, yes, but it happens in a more rewarding manner when we simply allow it to occur — whether or not we know ourselves as much as we hoped we would. Some say that preparation is the key to success, but I prefer the other phrase: preparation is the mother of victory. Because even if it opens the door simply to personal learnings or growth, that’s certainly a victory in itself — significant other or not. No need to rush to tie the knot, no need to put a life-long label on someone. Just good old-fashioned learning. And if anything beyond that is meant to be, then it shall in its own time.