Sunday, December 11, 2016

The cost of 'me to we'

            We throw around concepts like ‘me to we’ and it’s this global movement and the idea behind it is quite interesting, noble even.  But when you take those three words and actually parse it out, the result of ‘we’ come at a cost to ‘me’. You have to give something to get something.
            This is where I think most of us break.
In the past 30-40 years, in privileged society, from the time a baby is born, society is always telling her how special ‘she’ is. She is Daddy’s little girl, the apple of Mom’s eyes, the best daughter in the world, the fastest runner, the smartest kid, the greatest gymnast.
            Then as she hits puberty, those around her continue with these measures of positive reinforcement, because as we know, puberty is not an easy time for anybody, boys or girls. Then, when she comes into her own and goes out into the world, she is reminded that she is strong, and smart and bold and unstoppable. She is worthy of everything and if she puts her mind to it, anything is achievable. Words of wisdom!
            Then she meets a guy. He too was raised similarly and has been told all these wonderful things growing up, albeit with a slightly different flavor. Different adjectives were used and delivery methods were altered, but ultimately, the same message was drilled into his mind, body and soul. He’s great. He’s the best. He’s unstoppable.
            Herein lies the tricky part. The couple get-together and decide on starting their lives together, and part and parcel of that may be to have kids. So let’s say they do. They get married, have a great honeymoon and have children. Now they start espousing the same wonderful, positive reinforcing messages to their children. But in this evolution, the dynamic of the couple has changed, or at least the undercurrents of the relationship have shifted.
            She got a great job opportunity she might’ve said no to for him and the kids. He met a co-worker who is his carbon copy and she doesn’t talk about diapers and babies and throw-up. She talks about sports and travel and photography. She’s also a cross-fit instructor on the weekends. But he is loyal and comes home to his wife and his family.
So they both come to some sort of compromise in order to make this work.  This ‘me to we’ evolution then, comes at a hefty cost. Every time we give up a part of ourselves for the better ‘we’ we are losing ‘me’. And man have we been told to never lose ‘me’! Treasure it. Be proud of it. And now we have to shed it in order for ‘we’?!
And what if she continues to give in and give in and lose herself and he doesn’t? How long does she go making these sacrifices and compromises before she expects him to do the same? Should she even expect him to do the same? And if he doesn’t, does she call him out on it? Should she even remind him that he has to do it? And then when she does talk to him, he’s shocked! He’s been doing the same too, only she hasn’t noticed it as being very material. So both are giving up parts of themselves, parts that they may really love about themselves, and neither can believe the other hasn’t noticed.
And there are some things that he just can’t give up, just like there are some things she can’t give up.  And in fact, if she asks him to change some of whom he is for ‘we’, then she’s effectively changing him, isn’t she? Which may in turn make him resent her sometime in the future or vice-versa? Does either one want to be responsible for that? Should these changes be this difficult? Is that fair? Does the end justify the means?
The older I get the more questions I have and fewer answers. Axioms slide from black and white to grey and then to different shades of grey.
I think we each have to come up with our own coping mechanism for this. It is more an art than a science. The one thing I am sure of in all of this is that the answer is constantly changing as we try our best to grow together instead of growing apart. It’s this delicate dance that we have to perform and we have to risk our hearts every step of the way. It’s scarier than anything else I can think of, and yet when done right, it is nothing short of magic.
I’m not saying I’ve figured it out by any means. Far from it. It is a constant work in progress. A roller-coaster journey that we’ve chosen to take together through the ups and downs. And we now have to hold each other accountable.

Fingers crossed, we got this right!


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