Ask Driftyland Missy: I Tried To Reinvent Myself, But It Didn't Work

Note: This email has been revised to protect the identify of the person who submitted it.

Dear Missy,

I read your last article about the girl that got dumped by her boyfriend. It struck a chord with me. A few months ago, my partner and I started having very honest conversations about where our relationship was going. We talked about the possibility of moving in together, but first, sorted through a lot of unresolved issues that we have. One of them is my insecurity. I get jealous easily. After moving to a new city to be with [insert partner name here], I still have not made many friends and find myself kind of slipping away.

After my partner told me that a frustration about me includes this lack of self-discovery, I decided I need a fresh start. I cut my hair and took up jogging. I tried new recipes. I went out to bars in an attempt to make new friends. Still, I feel like I’m stuck in place. I don’t know where to go from here, and feel like I’m running while standing still. On top of that all, I can feel my partner getting impatient with my progress.

I guess my question is this – how do you find yourself (seems like you’re doing this a lot), while you’re with someone else?

[Name omitted]


Dear Reader,

I’ve never been very good at finding myself while in a relationship, to be honest. Perhaps that’s why they haven’t been super successful. But I will tell you this – your relationship will not survive (or at the very least, bring you joy) if you’re not true to yourself. You admit that you aren’t, but I think it goes much deeper than that.

I liked this guy once and for the life of me, I couldn’t kick my feelings. I had a really hard time with it. He was also a part of my friend group, worked with me in some capacity, so everywhere I turned, there he was – a tangible reminder of what I couldn’t have, what kept slipping through my fingers. So this is what happened – out of desperation maybe, but definitely not intentionally, I started to try to mold myself into someone else. Someone that someday, maybe he could want.

There’s this poem referenced in Beyonce’s music video for Hold Up (you sound like someone that should just listen to the entire Lemonade album, actually) that sums it up perfectly:

“You tried to change didn’t you?
closed your mouth more
tried to be softer
prettier
less volatile, less awake
but even when sleeping you could feel
him traveling away from you in his dreams…”

No matter how many common interests we had, things I agreed with him on, plans I tried to make with him, etc., he just continued to slip away. There wasn’t anything I could do to hold him, and that slapped me across the face over and over again until I was too tired to fight it anymore.

You say you’re trying to find yourself – but for whom? For your partner? I’d be willing to bet that a lot of these interests, a lot of these activities are tailor fit to their interests, and maybe… just maybe… that’s why you haven’t had a lot of luck.

If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, but just hang with me here for a second. What do you actually feel passionate about? Do you like trying to meet people in bars? I actually fucking hate that, and didn’t realize it until I was single. Was the haircut you got the haircut you wanted? I know in my situation, with dudemeister, I actually really wanted to cut my hair the way it is now. I hesitated though, partially out of fear, partially out of fearing that he wouldn’t find me attractive.

Finally, I just did it, and you know what? He started to notice. It didn’t work out anyway, but once I showed up, showed myself who I was, he actually saw me.

You feel invisible, unnoticed. You’re doing it to yourself, all for the sake of someone else. That’s not fair to you, and it’s especially not fair to the object of your desire. This isn’t going to work if you take the easy way out. You can’t cookie cutter yourself to fit someone else.

The pieces either fit, or they don’t.

My takeaway advice is this: stop giving yourself so much to someone else. Give more to yourself. Stop thinking so much. Stop making decisions about who you are, where you live, and what you live based on how someone else feels like you should. Yes, knowing that you may be losing someone you care about is difficult, but you will never ever feel lonelier than you will if you finally lose yourself. 

In my particular case, another thing that kept me in the pit was his indifference. It was romantic and kept me going because it mirrored the struggle that I was having about myself. I’ve said this before (in the letter you referenced, actually) – don’t romanticize struggle.

God, don’t. That’s such a trap. There is nothing romantic, and nothing more difficult, than chasing something or someone that doesn’t know if they want you. And I know, your partner probably does want you – but is it really you?

Do they know the one who dreams about packing up and moving to Germany? Do they know the person that wakes up in the middle of the night, afraid of where their life is going? Do they know the person that likes to make nachos using Doritos instead of tortilla chips?

(I don’t personally know anyone who does that last thing, but I know they’re out there, waiting for me to judge and be disgusted by them.)

So here it is, here’s the big declarative maybe this is what you should do: you should take your fucking life back.

The remainder of that Warshan Shire poem applies here, too:

you can’t make homes out of human beings
someone should have already told you that
and if he wants to leave
then let him leave
you are terrifying
and strange and beautiful
something not everyone knows how to love.”

Find the strange, beautiful parts of yourself and be loud with them. Don’t shy away, and don’t do it just to find someone else. For once, simply do it for yourself.

Show up. Show who you are.

xo,

DLMissy

Driftyland Missy is exclusively published on Driftyland every week (or so). To ask Missy a question (her advice is narcissistic and generally not recommended), email her at driftyland [dot] com.