staying true to me . . .

san marino italy

For some, the path has always been clear . . . But not mine!

My parents had a plan. From the time he was a kid, my dad knew he wanted to be a doctor. My mom was fostered into a career as a physical therapist — in high school, she fell in love with gymnastics. She was naturally strong and interested in fitness. Becoming a PT just made sense.

I never knew what I wanted to do. While the rest of my friends fell into paths almost identical to their parents’, I was not a science person. I hated Chemistry and Biology. Give me a literature class any day! And besides, I’d seen how hard my parents worked and what working with people in pain could do. I knew I wanted to help people, just not with their physical health.

Fast forward several years. A college graduate with a B.A. in English, but now what? . . . I’ve held a handful of jobs since I graduated, ranging from being a copywriter, to an ophthalmology technician, to an ESL school teacher (in Taiwan and Hong Kong), and now, to a freelance writer. I’ve been trying to come up with my long-term plan: But what? I’ve wanted to return to Asia: I have this HUGE fear of getting tied down. The world is too big and too beautiful and too full of need to live in one tiny pocket my whole life . . . But. But.

Do I always want to be alone?

I’ve been on my own the majority of my life. I mean that. Sure, I’ve had boyfriends, but there’s never been that spark. Never been that, “He’s the one.” Usually it’s just been me: “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry” — apologizing for who I am. I stand tall and tell myself I’m independent. I don’t need anyone. And I learned a long time ago that it’s far better to be single than to be in the wrong relationship. My independent spirit is what enabled me to excel at a college 3,000 miles from home. It’s what helped me thrive in Asia. And it’s what’s fueled my pride in myself: I am Jessica. I am strong. And I am alone.

Until now.

That’s right, folks. I met someone, and he has changed my world. Suddenly, I am not alone. Suddenly, I don’t have to cry myself to sleep: When I have a bad day, there is someone there who cares.

And even better? He like me just the way I am.

But, but.

But what does that say about me? Am I still me? Does it mean I am weak if I let someone in?

To be honest, I already know the answer. I’m not looking for relationship or any other advice, really. Some of you are probably disappointed to hear I’ve met someone. Message me if you want to complain. What I’m trying to point out is the way we view ourselves, and that all of life is a journey. My parents were never supposed to get divorced. Three years ago, I got a phone call in Taiwan, “Jess, we have some bad news…” I was supposed to marry my high school sweetheart. He chose to become a Catholic priest instead. I was supposed to have life figured out by now. I’m almost 30 and nowhere near having life figured out.


Me and the bf, Jon

But that’s just it. I’ve been shifting through life in the way that we all do. I’ve been a daughter, a sister, single, a girlfriend, a friend, a coworker, and more. Soon I will be a sister-in-law to my brother’s fiancée. I’ve been a lot of things, but all the while I’ve always been me. And that is never going to change. People who lose themselves in relationships frighten me. Because who are you if you are not YOU??

And as for my future? I don’t know. I’ll figure that out as I go, too. My parents always had a plan, but even their plans haven’t played out without hitches. All I know is that maybe my plans won’t only be around me from here on out. And maybe that’s okay.

Just maybe.


Images: Pinterest and mine

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58 thoughts

  1. Finding someone who loves you for you is such a joy! :-)

    And in terms of plans, some plans don’t work out, but many do. I’m sure you’ll find the right path for you.

  2. Congratulations! I understand where you are coming from. It’s hard enough to define ourselves, let alone in relation with someone else. It can be easy to lose our self, our id, in the relationship. Stay strong and independent; it will make the relationship stronger. Thanks for sharing! Have a wonderful day!

    • Thanks, Matt. In the past, I’ve tended to subdue who I really am in an effort to make the relationship work. But in the end, that is the wrong thing to do! The right person will *want* us to be ourselves — in fact, who we are will be why they like us! I know I could never be truly happy with someone unless this were true.

      I hope you have a wonderful day, too! (I believe yours is just starting there in Japan…)

  3. So happy for you! I bet it’s a nice feeling, finding someone you can share your thoughts and talk to and knowing he/she won’t judge you and let you be yourself. It’s always good to have a plan of what we want to do and where we want to go in life…but we should always, always remember life will throw curveballs at us when we least expect it.

    Growing up, I always thought I’d ended up working in the media (think television and radio). In the last few years, I have realised this is an industry that I am not keen on working in anymore. Then I thought I’d be an academic…but lately I’ve been feeling otherwise. Like you, my path is quite cobbled and twisty. It’s scary, but I guess this is what makes life exciting at the same time.

    • Mabel, it appears you and I can relate in a lot of ways. There was a time not so long ago when I thought I wanted to go into media, too. How else was I going to be able to write for a living? Now, I’ve realized that I don’t actually *want* to write for a living. When I’m *forced* to write something, it takes all the fun out of it!

      So, yes, life is a twisty, cobbly road, but you and I are at least lucky that we have a say in what we want to do, and even in who we want to be in a relationship with. (The idea of my parents forcing me to marry someone the way some cultures do horrifies me!) Like my friend Andy said, sometimes we just need to learn to go with the flow. Of course it’s important to make plans, but in the times when our plans don’t work out, I firmly believe it’s because they weren’t meant to!

      Thanks as always for reading and commenting! Someday I really do hope to meet you in person. :)

      • Thanks, Jess. I get the impression people are always disappointed when they meet me. I think it’s because they don’t expect me to be so quiet. I would like to meet you in person too :)

        Yes, if we plan we have a better chance of achieving what we want to achieve and sometimes if things don’t go our way, perhaps it’s for the better – maybe there’s a lesson to be learnt or better things are waiting round the corner. There’s this saying that goes, “You can choose your fate, but not your destiny”. Not too sure if it’s relatable. Have a good weekend!

      • “You can choose your fate, but not your destiny…” That is an interesting thought… You’ve really got me thinking now, Mabel. And I know what you mean about worrying about what people will think when they meet me in person. I think it helps, though, that I already know a little about you. Then there’s less reason for either of us to be shy! You have a good weekend, too!

  4. I think…just maybe…it is okay! I’ve spent a lot of time alone and crying myself to sleep at night, too. Although being independent and having alone time is still important, it is nice to have someone who cares. Yay for you! Staying true to yourself AND letting someone in! ;)

    • Aww, Amy. It sounds like we can relate a lot in this way. I don’t actually cry very often, but I *have* felt very alone for much of my life. I think we all deserve someone who will love us for who we are… especially a gorgeous girl like you! And it does take strength to allow ourselves to be vulnerable to opening up to someone… At least for an independent person like me. ;)

  5. Good on ya mate! Happy for you both. You can go home to your homeland, your roots, and experience a lostness sometimes, but if it is the home of your heart, you are ever found. May you and yours ever be blessed.

    • Aww, shucks. Thanks Professor. Growth is right. There never has been a good relationship without growth. And you’ll get to know more about Jon here and there. He’s kind of a private guy, though he’s definitely not shy!

  6. awww…so much I could say…but I am happy for you!
    You deserve the best as reflected in the beauty of your soul
    as seen through your poetry.
    Jess…embrace love and open yourself – you have so much to give
    He is lucky!

    • That’s great advice, Andy! One thing I’ve always told myself is that if I make the best decisions I can based on the information I have at the time, I will never have reason for regret. I can’t be blamed later for things I didn’t know “back then”… I *have* spent a lot of my life looking back, wishing I could change things that just weren’t meant to be. But even then I was moving forward, and it took moving forward to realize I didn’t need to look back any longer… So I agree, sometimes — most of the time — we just need to go with the flow!

      p.s. I’m pretty sure *every* parent is “still figuring things out” most of the time. I know I will be if I ever become a parent someday!!!

  7. Congratulations Jessica and best wishes! Of course you will still be you, don’t ever let go of that, but don’t confuse being you with trying to change him into who you are. At this point in your relationship you probably think, ‘but I would never do that,’ But it is sometimes a hurdle. Marriage is wonderful, but it is a give and take situation and sometimes one gives up their own ‘rights’ for the sake of another. Often that is what love is…do I love him enough to want what’s best for him instead of what’s best for me.? Of course this works both ways and a happy, contented couple usually find there own balance. I will keep you in my heart, oh, and I almost forgot to tell you, don’t stop writing unless your heart tells you it’s what you need to do. My family was always first and my writing was sometimes an effort, but there was no way I could quit.

    • So sorry for my delayed response, Marie!

      You are so right. One thing I think most of recognize — at least in concept — is that we can’t change another person and shouldn’t try. People are who they are, and, especially once they reach a certain age, aren’t going to change. And to me, if you truly love a person, why would you want to change them, anyway? — at least not who they are at their core. Sure, there will always be differences, and living together requires work and compromise. And you’re absolutely right that sometimes it means putting the other person first and sacrificing what *you* want for what is best for them. It definitely *is* a balance…

      But one thing I *do* know is that I will never stop writing, so thank you for that encouragement. Anyone who doesn’t want me to write, or doesn’t appreciate that part of me, doesn’t really love me. And my writing is probably my favorite part of me, so… I’m glad to hear you’ll never quit, too! :)

      Best wishes, always!

  8. first of all. congrats! =D may God strengthen and mold your relationship into something even deeper. =)

    in response to some of your thoughts, i wouldn’t say that starting a relationship makes you weak. it might make you more vulnerable, but vulnerability is required when entering a relationship. it is in those moments that you see how a relationship actually grows and matures you, allowing you to depend on one another and not be independent and selfish all the time.

    also, i don’t think that ‘losing oneself’ in a relationship is necessarily a bad thing. (of course, it depends on what you define as what exactly a person is losing). for example, in a marriage, it is the union of 2 people, and ultimately, a union of cultures, identities, histories, hidden secrets, etc.

    When you realize you love someone so much you are willing to change, and you do it willingly, joyfully, in order to care for that person and their family- then i don’t see it as losing yourself. i see it as changing for the better. (end of soapbox) =)

    • Ahh, yes. I fully agree, Sophie. I guess I wasn’t very clear about what I meant by “losing yourself.” I guess I’ve just seen a fair number of couples who are attached at the hip at all times and don’t even seem to have opinions of their own. They do *everything* together and almost appear to lose their own identities…

      Now, maybe that works for some people, but for me? No way! I’ve always been an independent person, even in a relationship. Sure, couples need to learn to be a team and, in a marriage, really do become “one,” but in any kind of team I need to be allowed to be my own person, too… In particular, whoever loves me “for me” has to appreciate my writing…

      Anyway, I love your thoughts and fully agree that it is a beautiful thing when you love someone enough to joyfully change something about yourself for them. Love is full of compromises on both sides, and the strength that that bond can create is something we all should aspire to.

      Much love to you! Thank you as always for reading and sharing your more insightful thoughts!! :)

    • Awww, Ashleigh!! That is SUPER cool that you can relate to what I wrote! I’m honestly envious that you met your beau abroad. I’m trying to figure out how to get Jon and I abroad now… But, yeah. I can see how we’d both be pretty independent chicks. Maybe I should look into heading to Japan! I’ll bet Jon would be down with that.

      Thanks so much for reading and especially for commenting! Means the world!

  9. Without love their can be no life at all…it doesn’t have to be with someone but a love or passion for making a difference. Sometimes to lose and give yourself to love will help you discover pieces of you that were yet undiscovered. Enjoy your journey.

    • Thank you, James. I agree that love is needed to make all of life and its endeavors meaningful, and I really like the thought that we can discover pieces of ourselves by being with someone else. I believe you are very right!

      I hope your week is off to a great start! :)

    • Thank you, Randy! I agree that the best we can all do is to move forward. I most definitely haven’t given up on going back to Asia.

      By the way, it’s nice to see you again! Were you on another trip to China?

  10. So glad that you’ve found someone you can share your heart and thoughts with. Having been 20yrs on and off with my hubby I can only advise that laughter is the best glue to a relationship, closely followed by heat under the sheets :) enjoy and don’t forget ‘life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans’ 😃

    • Aww, thank you. One great thing about Jon that assures me he’s a keeper is that he makes me laugh and laugh!!! He is a GREAT balance for my intensity… I won’t speak to our heat beneath the sheets, but… Lol. He actually lives 3,000 miles away from me. Long-distance ain’t fun, but it’s what we’ve got to deal with right now. I’m going to see him at Christmas and New Years, though. Can’t wait!!

      And you are SO right with the saying about life being what happens while we’re making other plans. So right. :)

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