Your life is not meant to remain pristine; instead life is intended for living, to fully immerse yourself into it and make it an amazing adventure!
The desire for perfection limits many people because they fear making a ‘mistake’ and as a result they are immobilized. Life and love require movement and it is through movement we are gifted the beautiful opportunity to discover more about self, others, life and love. Take a moment and reflect on your very first boy/girlfriend, perhaps similar to others you were in junior high, a time when you were transitioning from a child to an adolescent.
- Was this the best relationship of your life?
- Are you still with this individual 20, 25, 30 years later?
- Is this the only person you ever dated?
- Were you the best partner in this relationship?
- Did you know everything you needed to know about self, love, life and relationships at this time?
If you are like the many people, you answered ‘No’ to all of these questions. Instead your life journey has consisted of various individuals (teachers) who accompanied you on your journey at different times in your life and each of these relationships (if you were paying attention) provided tools, lessons and knowledge in the form of experience. All of the things you know about yourself are a result of your experiences because you took a chance, made a decision and followed through.
All of us have a myriad of choices to make on a daily basis and each decision has various outcomes, some outcomes seem very apparent and others are unknown; but the key is to make the decision one way or another, to take action.
However, it is important to know not making a decision is also a choice with its own set of outcomes, one of which being the reduction of certain options. For example, you may have desired to play a particular sport professionally when you were younger, however, you made the decision not to train, study, invest in sports camps, hire a coach, listen to the coach, train outside of practice and study the competition. Your decision not to study in high school resulted in limited college options because of your scores, which reduced the opportunities to play with other top athletes on a recognized team who would have helped to perfect your skills and this ultimately resulted in reduced exposure for you. Now at the age of 35 this opportunity is no longer available to you. This is also true for romantic relationships, if you wait too long to make a decision, he or she may no longer be an option for you.
I would like to share a short version of how making decisions in my life led me to create Love Grows.
I entered undergrad as a pre-med major, I thought I wanted to be a doctor. However, after my first semester of classes (experience), I quickly discovered I was not interested in which muscle was connected to what bone, nor was I excited about the material. After being placed on academic probation, I knew (1) I was not going to struggle through premed for another 7 semesters and (2) I needed to declare a new major, but did not know which one. After quickly eliminating many disciplines (agriculture, engineering, etc.), I happened upon psychology and fell in love. I read case studies for recreation, engaged in class discussion, completed projects weeks in advance and remained on the Dean’s list for my academic career. It was a psychology professor at my undergraduate institution who cyber introduced me to his colleague at what would later become my graduate institution (unbeknownst to me) years later. His colleague mentored me from a distance and a few years after graduation, I enrolled at my mentor’s university.
After graduating from my undergraduate institution, I thought I was interested in a particular segment of psychology and had the opportunity to take a few classes (experience) and quickly discovered I was not interested in this aspect of psychology. I made a decision to join Americorps for a year and this choice allowed me to gain experience working with children in a school setting and to travel to Vietnam (unknown opportunity). These experiences provided a competitive edge for my graduate school application and as a result I was admitted. My choice to attend this graduate institution led to the following:
Opportunity to travel to Gambia as a result of a colleague introducing me to his former professor at another university
Decision to pursue and obtain a 3rd degree which led to…
Mount Sinai internship, recommended by my professor and mentor
Pursuing and being awarded the Fulbright Scholarship, recommended by my professor and mentor
Living abroad (Barbados) for a year with full funding which also resulted in my 1st, first author publication in a scientific journal
Years of counseling experience working with girls and families
All of these resulted from my decision to make a choice and take action. When I changed majors from biology to psychology I had no idea any of the above opportunities and experiences would become an option for me. When I changed majors I did not have the ability to foresee me walking through The Door of No Return on Gore Island in Senegal, hiking mountain barefoot in Vietnam, distributing condoms on a New York street in the snow, meeting a group of individuals in Barbados who would later become lifelong friends, meeting an individual who became my first big love whose mother became one of my best mentors and advocates. No, I did not know any of these nor would any of these have happened if I allowed a desire for perfection and/or a fear of failure to immobilize me.
Nothing in life or love is guaranteed.
There is no way to ensure you will not experience hurt feelings, heartbreak, disappointments or receive a ‘No.’ Perhaps if you shift your perspective from the desire to live a pristine and/or perfect life to one of adventure you will have the courage to make choices and take the steps. Shift your perspective from failure to discovery, meaning that it you receive an outcome you did not expect or desire; you did not fail, instead you discovered something new. Maybe this new discovery sparks creativity within or points you in a new direction or provides a challenge to hone new skills.
This adventure perspective is also applicable to relationships, especially if a relationship ends (or never began).
Instead of viewing self or relationship as a failure, view it as an adventure you both had, one filled with many lessons, experiences and opportunities to grow, learn, teach and discover more about what compliments and constricts you.
No relationship is ever a waste of time if you had discoveries.
The ending of one relationship is the opportunity for a new relationship to begin. Remember a relationship had to end before you were able to enter into this relationship that is ending. Love is infinite and there is more than one person and one experience leading to your best life. It is possible to experience many ‘best lives’ during your journey.
I would like to leave you with a story from Diane, a vibrant woman in her 70s who I met after meeting her son on an impromptu flight. Diane was married for 30+ years in her first marriage and 25 years in her second and this is what she had to say about love …
“I loved my first husband. We had quite the adventure. When he died I was so distraught, sad and thought I would never love again, hell I did not think I could live or even get out of bed again. Then in time, I met him and he filled my life with a big beautiful love and our families expanded with bonus children. We had many adventures. He taught me that love is expansive, it is infinite, it is always available because after 30 years of love with my first husband, I had the opportunity to have a new and different love adventure and it was amazing. [Diane’s 2nd husband died after 25 years of marriage]…and now I have a 3rd love and perhaps we will have this adventure for another 25 years, we are vibrant!”
If Diane at 70 is still living and loving, what is your excuse? – Misha N. Granado