This one’s going to be a deep dive, so go grab that cup of coffee. I’ll wait.
Here are some of my stories and what I’ve gained from them.
What Was I Thinking?
Do you ever look back at an old picture, or revisit an old memory and say to yourself “What was I thinking?!”
I have a few of those moments. You probably do too – it’s completely normal and human to have regrets, but this is what I’ve learned:
- haunt you forever.
- sometimes be mended.
- be used as a learning experience to make better choices in the future.
I was still in my 20’s and just got out of a pretty serious relationship. We were living together, so I had recently moved out and into a small studio apartment in Queens. It was just me and my little baby dog Eli (whom I miss more than anything in the world.)
In swoops, let’s call him Napoleon (Nap for short.) I had met Nap through a mutual acquaintance who had asked me for concert tickets. I was able to come through on that for him and ended up meeting him at the Broadway Mall in Hicksville in the food court and there was Nap keeping him company.
Soon after this encounter, Nap friended me on social media and not long after that, was messaging me pretty regularly, always initiating a conversation. It seemed pretty friendly at first, and then the red flags surfaced (which I promptly ignored.)
How Did I Get Here?
This story could go on for days, but I’ll spare you and give you the important bits you need to know.
- Nap was into some weird stuff. NLP, which stands for Neuro-linguistic Programming. More info HERE. His interest in the technique was for the purpose of manipulating people (he was open to me about this!) He also admired these self-proclaimed “pick-up artists” who would use mind games to pick up women. Blegh.
- Nap was EVERYWHERE. I considered him a friend, but he really was an over-giver, sometimes to the point where I was uncomfortable. Yet, I chose to ignore my hunches that something was off.
In what felt like the blink of an eye, Nap’s appearance in my life became a constant.
You would think as an educated and successful woman I would have had the sense to run far away, but for some reason I didn’t. And there are SO many of these stories you’ll find.
Over time I had developed the mentality that I couldn’t succeed on my own, and therefore needed him in my life. He didn’t like my friends, so they were gone, cut out. He somehow charmed my family (who in their minds believed 30 was the right age to settle down.) It was all really unhealthy and I felt stuck.
You can see where this is going.
But Let’s Talk About What I Learned
- Your instincts are USUALLY right. Trust them. Sounds cliche, but it’s so true.
- Also, don’t be afraid to disappoint people. It’s OK to listen to advice, but at the end of the day it’s your life to live and you get to call the shots on what’s right for you.
- Be wary of OVER-GIVERS. This is a big one, because I fell for this not just once in my life. Over-givers are those people who insist on grand gestures, actual gifts, or experiences that seem excessive (and most of the time they don’t like taking no for an answer.) In my experience, these people can have manic-like qualities which surface in negative ways down the road.
One of the things I’m so grateful for today with Dr. Nebraska is how open we are about our past mistakes. We’ve both learned so much and have been able to connect over similar experiences. He was able to offer me guidance on this next topic:
Remember how I mentioned that regrets can sometimes be mended? Allow me to share with you an example.
Last year, I had a falling out with a dear friend I’ve known since high school. I recently reached out to apologize, not just because it was time, but because I was wrong. This person has a golden moral compass and at the time I could have learned a thing or two. (Or stood up for someone who could have used some support.)
My apology may have arrived a few months late, and seemingly came out of nowhere, but it was made and I’m a better person for it. Thank you for the encouragement Eric, and to my friend, for your forgiveness.
Trust your instincts and trust the fact that you know what the right thing is to do. When you make mistakes, learn from them. Apologize for them when appropriate. You may not be forgiven outright, but it can help you start to forgive yourself. Watch out for over-givers and their influence. These personalities are big and impressive. They may promise you your time in the spotlight (or whatever draws you.) But just as quickly, that big personality may feel stifling, ignoring your personal boundaries, over-sharing with you and influencing decisions. Keep your head on straight, watch for the signs and I know you’ll do the right thing in the end.
I’m certainly not perfect, but I’m proud to be a work in progress.