Right after Israel, my roommate and dear friend asked me if I thought the influence of a friendship I had with a guy that was there with us was negative. I pushed back on her in the moment and said it was just a part of me she doesn’t usually get to see (and a part I don’t personally have a problem with) but it is a question that has continued to pop up up in moments of quiet reflection. It sits at the core of something I’ve struggled with for a really long time, to understand if it’s a weakness or a stength, or maybe both.
I acknowledge I am somewhat adaptable to those I am around. To give a little bit of background, I feel like a lot of people know who I am but not a lot of people know me. Some say I can be hard to get close to; this was true at one time. I don’t think it’s as true now. I do feel like most people don’t try. I do require intentional pursuit which is what I do if I want someone in my life, but perhaps that is too much to expect of others? Anyways… this results in a small number of people who have done this. However, once you’re in, you are in for life should you choose to be. I’m loyal, reliable, committed and forgiving. I have friendships spanning decades and, even if we haven’t spoken in years, we can pick up right where we left off no problem. I see that as a strength. Those who are my friends or who have dated me know the truth in this.
But… the level of adaptability that I have, which started out as a survival mechanism in school, has lead me to tend to lose myself, most substantially when I date people. My adaptability allows me to operate extremely well in relationships with a wide variety of people which ultimately resulted in some substantial LTRs. If I commit, I commit and that means I do what I can to make things work. Sometimes the things I change are good: giving up day-drinking or smoking, trying new hobbies, getting healthy, etc. Other times, it has been less healthy: I’ve lost friends, savings, passions, health and happiness.
Ultimately though, these things are a result of my choices and how I choose to be influenced by the people I’m around (and who I would choose to date). And it had been so long since I’d really spent time being single that spending this time peeling back the layers of relationships and old hurt to find out what I’m about has been really good and healthy. It is why I’ve settled into a sort of peace with where I’m at with dating right now. When I used to self-select my partners, my ability to click with so many types made getting into a relationship easy but the cost for me was super high. Now, I’m bringing God into the deal and I feel like I’m being protected.
I’ve gotten a much better feel for who I am and what I’m about but I’m also realizing… I’m not my best me alone, even WITH God. People are really important for me, friends and otherwise. And while I can still spend time with all different kinds of people, I need to be aware of the influencers in my life and make sure that they are wielding the kind of influence I want them to.
Secondly, I think I’m strong and aware enough now to protect and prioritize the things that are important to me. It took a really long time to believe that this isn’t selfish; it merely positions me well so that I can give the best of myself to others. Thus, after a great deal of reflection, I feel like this can be as much of a strength or weakness as I allow it to be. That means I have a responsibility to both utilize it as a strength that can serve healthy relationships as well as be on the lookout for times where it may become a vulnerability.