“This above all: to thine own self be true,” was the first Shakespeare quote I remember knowing, thanks to Gilligan’s Island reruns.
I always imagined being grown, married, and raising my children with my wife. Most of my friends wanted to go into space; I wanted a family. I’ve always considered that my greatest goal. Careers and other parts of my personal life take a backseat to my hope for a family of my own.
But, I forgot what Polonius says to Laertes. I think I forgot to be honest with myself.
Maybe, I didn’t want to admit that, for a while at least, I wanted to be single. There were signs, mentioned to my confidants in moments of clear honesty:
“Maybe it’s good I’m single. I can focus on school,” I’d say to my sister.
“Maybe it’s good I’m single. I really don’t have the money to date right now,” I’d tell my friend.
Little did I know at the time I was trying to find rational excuses to allow myself to be content in my singleness. It’s not that my desire for a family ever went away; I just don’t think I was ready to pursue it. I know now I wasn’t willing to admit it and pushed those thoughts out of my mind.
But I began to notice a trend in my life. I’ve had failures in my attempts at developing a romantic relationship. In fact, I’ve yet to have an actual success. I knew I had a history of hesitation, but why?
Hesitation had become my favorite tactic of sabotaging myself—of making sure I didn’t start working towards my dream. The dream I refused to realize I didn’t want to achieve yet.
I let myself see hesitation as patience. Patience is good. It can keep you from entering the kind of relationship that turns into an embarrassing story your friends always ask you to tell at parties. Getting to know someone patiently has never been a bad thing in my life.
But hesitation is different. It is damaging.
I would find myself in a position where my patience had paid off. I’d be relatively certain that if I made the move towards a relationship that she would accept and reciprocate. But then I would do nothing. I’d wait for the perfect moment, and then refuse to make eye contact as we passed each other on the street. The right timing would pass, we’d drift apart, and I’d wallow in my singleness. I was great at fooling myself.
I took me a while to figure out.
As a highly logical person, seeing a pattern of my own behavior so illogical wasn’t easy to identify, but it was there. Ironically enough, I didn’t have this moment of realization until I began to feel truly ready for a romantic relationship. No one ever sees things happening in the moment nearly as well as they do in hindsight.
But I see it now, which means I have to do something with this knowledge.
I was making myself fail. If I have the power to make myself fail, I have the power to get out of my way. My search for a wife is an act in God’s story of my life. One He is telling me line by line. Considering how important timing is in a story, I’m excited for my next chance not to hesitate. I am ready to finally be on cue.
I’m cautiously optimistic. It’s actually a weight off of my shoulders. It seems counter-intuitive, being optimistic because the blame for failure is more on your actions than you thought. But in this instance, it’s liberating.
Are you true to yourself? It’s ok to admit you’re intimidated by a relationship, or making the move, or that you may not want a relationship right now as much as you thought. A mentor of mine told me, “If you’re afraid by something you want to do, that means it’s worth doing. There is no guarantee it will end well, but at least you can say you were bold enough to take the chance.”
If you know someone who struggles with moving forward in relationships, will you email them this post?