Identity is a fluid concept. With every breath, you’re slowly changing and becoming someone new.
Just think about it – five years ago, there was so much you didn’t know, so much you couldn’t do. You were a slightly different version of yourself, a version that’s now completely outdated.
Each day, there’s a new upgrade.
However, some amount of fluidity doesn’t mean you’re automatically a shape-shifter. No matter how much you evolve in life, there’ll always be things that make you you, things that matter a great deal to your sense of self.
And you should never change those for anyone else. Never, you hear me? Even if you fall head over heels in love. Especially then.
Now, listen carefully: never change the following 10 things about yourself for anyone else.
1) Your ambitions and dreams
When I was in my early teens, I decided to study abroad in the UK (my English was pitiful) and become a published author (I was told it was incredibly hard to get traditionally published).
The people in my small hometown thought I was a dreamer; heck, my own then-boyfriend thought it was impossible.
Skip to ten years later, and I’ve done both.
Have people tried to mold me to fit their expectations along the way? Yes.
Have they tried to convince me that a more traditional career path was better? Yes.
Have I listened? Obviously no.
Your dreams are sacred. If you have a vision of a future that fills you with fire, don’t give up on it.
They might tell you you’re being naïve or silly. They might laugh at you, belittle you, try to bring you down.
Don’t let them.
2) Your standards
Do you know what else people love to laugh at? “Impossible” standards.
“You want a guy who shares all house chores, cooks, doesn’t get jealous, doesn’t cheat, and always puts the effort in? Bah! Keep dreaming.”
Well, dream I did, and I’m now dating a man exactly like that.
As you go through life, people will try to push your boundaries. They’ll turn out to be different than what you initially thought, and as you get more and more attached, it’ll become increasingly difficult to keep your standards in mind.
But remember one thing: the way they treat you right now is how they’re going to treat you forever. It won’t get better.
Don’t settle for less.
3) Your core principles
And don’t settle for people whose principles drastically oppose yours.
Look, there is a great number of things in life that aren’t absolute dealbreakers. Your partner likes to hike, you don’t. Your friend’s obsessed with Taylor Swift, you’re not.
And even opinions change over time, no matter how strong.
But principles are different. Principles are a matter of ethics.
My friend’s strongly opposed to smoking. When another friend of ours asked her to buy him a packet on her way to a party, she said no, as was her right.
However big or small your principles are, know that you can always find a way to abide by them and keep your conscience clear. And if someone’s pushing you to break the core of who you are, they’re probably not worth breaking yourself for in the first place.
4) Your relationships with family and friends
Breaking the bond you have with your closest ones is another big one.
Some partners – especially if they have a narcissistic personality – might try to cut you off from your family and friends, naming all the reasons why those relationships aren’t good for you.
Now, families are complicated. Sometimes, it is better to love your relatives from afar.
But that choice should always be yours. It’s alright to receive advice or someone’s honest opinion; it’s another thing entirely to feel pressured into saying goodbye to those you love.
Listen to your own heart when it comes to who you let in and who you let go.
5) Your (non)parental dreams
Speaking of families, the decision to have kids is one of the most important life choices you’ll ever make. Being an amazing parent is hard, and building a family completely changes your lifestyle.
Having children is beautiful beyond belief, but it’s not for everyone, and that’s okay.
If you don’t want to have kids and your partner does, it doesn’t mean you should change your mind. It means you’re not a great fit for each other.
The same applies the other way around. Don’t have kids for the sake of pleasing someone else and don’t give up on your parental dreams just to stay with your current partner.
Find someone who wants the same things you do.
6) Your appearance
Whether you build a family with someone or not, your appearance will slowly change as you age.
Sadly, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that some people expect us to look young and beautiful forever, forcing us to obsess over our appearance just to feel better about ourselves.
“Hey, have you gained a bit of weight? Your nose looks strange from this angle. Maybe those jeans aren’t great for your body type?”
To those comments we say a resolute “bye”.
Your appearance is something you shouldn’t have to change for anyone. Over the years, your weight will fluctuate, your skin will get wrinkled, and your hair might fall out.
Find someone who promises to love all the versions of you that are to come.
And if you ever feel your confidence drop, remember that the sole reason you exist is that hundreds of people fell in love with your features.
Your ancestors’ love for each other is proof that you’re lovable as you are, too.
7) Your fashion style
Fashion isn’t just a way to enhance our appearance; it’s an expression of what hides underneath our skin.
I love colors. At school, I used to wear very colorful socks that didn’t really match the rest of my outfits (which were super colorful, too). My classmates would roll their eyes or laugh at me, saying I was a huge weirdo.
Well, guess what. I’m 24 now and I still wear colorful socks. No one cares anymore because I’m in *adult land* where people tend to have more important concerns than what’s on my feet.
But the point is, if I gave up my fashion style back then, I would have been miserable. It would have felt like a defeat. Like giving up on myself.
Your fashion tells the world who you are. Don’t be afraid to let yourself shine.
8) Your unique kind of silliness
Extraordinary fashion can get you a few mocking remarks, but if there’s one way to incite downright contempt, it’s free and unrestricted silliness.
Some people are just way too serious.
Have fun! Laugh at stupid memes, joke around with your friends, play games, and take the whole “life” business with a grain of salt.
Soon, all of us will be gone and no one will remember us, so you might just as well enjoy your time here.
And if someone tells you you’re weird and freaky, so what? They’re obviously not your kind of person.
9) Your love language
What makes you feel loved and appreciated? Is it compliments? Gifts? Hugs?
The five love languages are a fascinating tool to learn more about your romantic partner and yourself. The concept revolves around the ways in which you like to receive and give love, and the five languages are as follows:
- Words of affirmation
- Acts of service
- Physical touch
- Gift giving
- Quality time
And why am I talking about this in the first place? Because you shouldn’t have to compromise on what kind of love you require. Everyone’s different, and it’s your partner’s job to give you what you need to the best of their capacity.
If you absolutely adore physical touch and are dating someone who can’t stand it, don’t settle for gifts.
Think of the long-term – would you really like to live your whole life not receiving the kind of love you need?
10) Your love for yourself
And finally – drumbeat, please – we come to the last and most important point, the culmination of the whole article.
Here’s the harsh truth: the people you love might leave you at any point. You may scoff and say, “I know my relationships better than you do, random writer on the internet.”
And you would be right. But the fact still stands. You never know what’ll happen.
The only thing you do know is that you will stay. Through the thick and thin. Until death do us part.
So, don’t let anyone break how much you love and appreciate yourself. Don’t let your self-esteem plummet just because Jerry from work thinks you’re *insert whatever insulting thing you’ve ever been called*.
You’re better than that, and the right people will love you just as you are.