One day I realized I was trying to change the wrong person.
Do you know what she told me? Over and over? Again and again?
“My dad hates his job. People hate their jobs. It’s just a job.”
I never knew what to say to that. I didn’t want to insult her dad. But it also felt like it hurt to pretend I was ok with what she was saying. It was just so different than what I believed. The complete opposite. Could I be with someone like that?
I did ask myself that question, but I never properly answered it. Because the answer—no—was somewhat inconvenient. Because I loved her and I wanted us to work.
I wanted her to change her mind. I wanted her to completely change her beliefs. I wanted her to change who she was. For me. Because I wanted her to support me. Because then everything would be OK again like it was before we started to talk about this stuff.
I didn’t get why she wouldn’t change. My belief was so much better than hers—that, actually, a job could be more than something you hated. It could be something you loved. It could be something you looked forward to. It could be something worth doing.
How was that not a better belief? How couldn’t she see that?
But … I was doing a very human thing: I was looking out instead of in.
Not once did I think about what kind of changes I could make. Because she was wrong and I was right. Obviously. Why did I have to change?
I had to change because I had no right to expect her to believe what I wanted her to believe. I had no right to want her to change. I had no right to want her to change to suit me.
And, if nothing else, her changing is out of my control. Trying to change her only led to frustration, and it didn’t change her at all. So that wasn’t quite working.
Me changing … that’s in my control. That’s my right.
I knew what change I had to make.
I had to break up with her.
This was too big an incompatibility.
It wasn’t like we’d discussed it once and she was open to the idea of supporting me, but still a bit unsure. It wasn’t like we’d discussed it, and she didn’t understand, and so she asked lots of questions in an attempt to get it.
There was none of that. There was only me being honest with her and her shutting me down, saying that she didn’t think a job was something to be loved, and it was “OK” to hate it. Because, you know, her dad did. And he was “fine”.
“Fine”? Is that the goal?
As much as I wanted her to change, as much as I thought I was right, she was completely entitled to believe whatever she wanted to believe, and I wasn’t entitled whatsoever to try to change that.
Now, I’ve realized something: we both deserved better.
I thought it was just me who deserved better at first. Because I deserved someone who was supportive and encouraging, and someone who thought me following my heart was the best idea.
And that’s all true.
But she deserved better too.
Better than someone who wanted to convince her she was wrong.