The Problem With Getting Better, Happier And Stronger

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Things have changed. Okay, well, specifically, I have changed. A lot. Like, whiplash amounts. And I’m still trying to catch up, still trying to reposition myself into understanding who I am now versus who I was a few months ago. Because, change is a funny, nuanced thing. It’s never at all what you expect it to be. And the consequences and outcomes of your changes are never what you could have predicted. Especially when you’ve changed for the better.

In fact, unfortunately, when you’ve changed for the better.

Sometimes I think about why there aren’t more people running, sprinting towards greatness. Why there aren’t more people continually evolving into something better, stronger, and happier. I wonder this a lot as I read or listen to stories about miserable jobs and unsatisfying home lives and dreams that have been left to decompose. And, I think I’m starting to understand why some people just stay, as they are, and stop aspiring for betterment. I think I get it. I think I see why it’s not a matter of capability, but rather a matter of personal choice.

Because changing for the better constantly and drastically, well, for lack of a better word, can completely suck sometimes. As much as you want to believe that everyone around you will be supportive and gracious about this new and improved you, it’s sometimes not the case. And, that’s disappointing. It’s terrifyingly disappointing, in fact, when you realize that relationships you’ve treasured had been built by the you that you didn’t respect. And that these relationships survive only when their veins are pumped with negativity and unyielding insecurity.  That conversation grows silent if you have nothing to complain about. That sharing the positive without the negative won’t always be met with a welcomed face on the other end.

And, so I get it. I get why people don’t change, why they wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice their relationships for their own well-being. Maybe they didn’t understand that them playing small isn’t serving anyone’s best interest. But, it’s easier said than done. It’s easier to say you’d love to be great and you’d love to straighten out your own edges, but when it happens? It’s not always the sweet and delicious heaven you’d been waiting for.

Because when you change and you change for the betterment of yourself, your people may get threatened. They may feel jealous. They may want you back on their level. They may miss your self-destructive love life. They may not be comfortable with your new way of approaching dating and career and friendships. They may not be prepared when you stand up for yourself. They may just simply not be prepared.

And you’ll be sad. You’ll realize that, in changing, you’ll have to weed through toxic relationships. You’ll have to understand that not everyone can stay, not just anyone gets to have an audience with you. Because, you’ve changed and you’re happy and the last thing you’d ever want is for someone to come crashing into your life and threaten what you’ve spent years building.

Because all you’ve ever wanted is to feel peaceful and happy and to stop analyzing every word that anyone ever says to you or around you. All you’d ever wanted was to stop falling for the wrong men, to stop swallowing your feelings, and to stop acting like what you want doesn’t matter. All you’d ever wanted was to believe you’re worth loving and that you’re good enough. Is that not what everyone always wants? To believe? To believe they are worth more? And all you’d ever ask for from anyone in your life is for them to support you and be happy when you tell them that you finally figured things out and you put in the godawful amount of time to fix yourself.

And so you tell them. And, most importantly, you show them.

And you end up saying to yourself, “Well, that wasn’t exactly the reaction I was hoping for…”

And you tell yourself you need to move on. Otherwise you’ll be stuck in this forever. This cycle of change, regress, change, regress. You’ll breathe in their insecurities for too long. You’ll start to believe, again, that they’re insecurities must equal your insecurities. These things, these attitudes, these negative thoughts… they’re too contagious. Too powerfully contagious.

And so you move on. You break ties. You forfeit loyalty for your sanity. Because, well, what other choice do you have?

{flickr credit}

36 people added their two cents. Add yours.

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kat July 30, 2010 at 12:32 am

Gosh, I love this post. In fact, I read the first two sentences, and then had to go get my coffee because I could tell already I was going to love this post and needed to really sit down and take my time reading it. You’re so right. How not everyone actually wants to be moving in the direction of betterment and that can be really …. confusing. It’s completely counter-intuitive and against what we’re always told about everything, yet it’s simply how we are. It’s like how we accuse celebrities of “selling out” when they get popular, we (eh, some people) seem to think regular people have “sold out” somehow if they get happy.
For me recently the thing that helped me break free from the people I don’t necessarily need, and the expectations I don’t necessarily need, was to really sit down and realize the only person (or few people) whose approval and opinion I really cared about. The only person I knew wanted what was truly best for me, so I wanted to make them proud. It’s my mom which sounds totally lame, but whatever my mom is awesome. There are a lot of disappointing people but I think it’s better to focus on one or two “lighthouse people” (if you will), if you can.
Also did you check out David’s (rest is still unwritten) latest post? It kind of runs along similar lines, but looking at the other direction. Anyway it’s interesting how sometimes the blog world runs in tandem.

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2 emmysuh July 30, 2010 at 7:03 am

Ugh, this is so me right now. Trying to balance making my life’s happiness and making myself a better person with other people’s unwillingness to change and negativity. You don’t want to give up on someone holding you back…but you don’t want to allow yourself to be held back.

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3 Doniree July 30, 2010 at 8:20 am

The question that’s been on my mind lately – with regards to people, things, and work – is “Does this serve me?” Followed up with, “Does this serve my goals, my future, my present?” And if I can’t quickly and confidently say that it does, it goes. Ok, so it’s not quite that simple, but that’s what I’m striving for. Here’s to you and cutting the toxic ties and feeding the nourishing ones – you’re an inspiration, love :)

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4 Arina July 30, 2010 at 8:33 am

Firstly, thank you for putting my feelings to web. Secondly, WOW, you put my feelings to words!.. And you’re not even me.

I recently went through the most awful “friend separation” that I ever have in my life. I changed (for what I think is the better) and instead of support, I got attacked from one of my best friends.

This cut me to the absolute core, but what tipped me off to the idea that this was jealousy/not understanding inspired is that all I wanted to do was tell her how wrong she was about me. If the claims she had were legitimate I would have sat down and thought about it and changed, but you know what? I wasn’t wrong. I deserve happiness. And so do you, so fuck all these kids that don’t want to change with us into the fantastic women that we are.

Suck on that, slow-pokes. :)

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5 Amy --- Just A Titch July 30, 2010 at 8:34 am

As things in my life improve (which has been happening dramatically lately) it’s been really interesting to see who’s happy and supportive and to see who is quick to doubt my choices. It can be discouraging and I’m definitely not the best at cutting ties, but I think you’re right in that sometimes, you have to sacrifice relationships in order to do what’s best. Great post, love.

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6 Alexandra the Tsaritsa July 30, 2010 at 10:03 am

Getting rid of the toxic people in my life was probably the best thing I’ve ever done. I have noticeably so much less drama in my life, it’s amazing. Toxic people like to make the people around them feel toxic, too.

Surround yourself with positivity, woman!

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7 Brody July 30, 2010 at 10:27 am

But the good part is, once you’ve changed yourself for the better, you’ll begin to attract the sort of people who value the good things in you. Who support you and encourage you and love you for the person you’ve become.

It sucks to have to get rid of people in your life who are negative, but I think it’s just familiarity and fear of change that can hold you back from it. Just because you’ve been friends with someone for while doesn’t make you obligated to continue, if it isn’t healthy. You wouldn’t (hopefully) stay in a negative relationship where your significant other treats you poorly in response to change– why would you take this from friends?

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8 nicole antoinette July 30, 2010 at 10:39 am

I LOVED YOU BEFORE AND I LOVE YOU AS YOU CHANGE AND I LOVE YOU FOREVER AND EVER AMEN

(Marriage vows?)

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9 Sam Davidson August 2, 2010 at 7:56 am

Wow. I was beginning to think the two of you broke up. And I was wondering who’d get the wine. Glad to see this isn’t (all) about Nicole.

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10 Lauren July 30, 2010 at 10:47 am

Holey shit this post was awesome!!!!

Each paragraph and sentence – well written, jam packed with meaning, no bullshit – I loved reading it.

It’s a bitter-sweet thing – changing yourself for the better. A definite roller coaster ride… just like everything else is in life that’s worth doing though.

And its sad to see your “old you” friends, and habits, and routines go sometimes – but they make us get to who we are now and make us realize who want to be and what we don’t want to be. And it’s not like those things and people entirely get replaced – they’ll also be important to us in different ways – but everything and everyone changes.

But damn, myself personally – there are people I need to let go of and I’m just too scared to do it still. But I’m getting there.

I found a quote the other day I used in a blog post I wrote from that cutie Kevin Arnold from The Wonder Years (hell yes – Wonder Years Rocks) and he said..

“Growing up is never easy. You hold on to things that were. You wonder what’s to come. But that night, we knew it was time to let go of what had been, and look ahead to what would be. Other days. New days. Days to come. The thing is, we didn’t have to hate each other for getting older. We just had to forgive ourselves… for growing up.”

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11 Kel July 30, 2010 at 11:51 am

Wow. I’ve felt that way…I feel that way sometimes still and I get what you are saying. Sometimes being ‘content’ just where we are is enough to keep us from being ‘happy’ because happieness requires work to maintain.

Awesome post…thanks for putting it into words!
~K

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12 Gini July 30, 2010 at 12:31 pm

This is wonderful. So many people say they want to fly, but….but. I’m one of those people who keeps putting off flight to “figure things out.” But in my case, I’m not afraid of losing my people, I just don’t know how. So I’ll hang in my little cube at my incredibly boring job whose paycheck enables my drinking and my foodie-ing and my traveling, reading blogs like yours and dreaming about my small business in the mountains of Guatemala, and how someday I’ll be there. As soon as I figure things out. Yep. As soon as I figure things out…

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13 Cynthia LaLuna July 30, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Spot on, Jamie. And something we needed to read today!

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14 DC Princess July 30, 2010 at 2:16 pm

I have been experiencing this a LOT lately and I so get it.

You put it perfectly into words.

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15 lizfits July 30, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Two things:

1) This was exactly what I needed today. Perfect! I love it.

2) That is a very pretty picture up top.

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16 Chelsea Talks Smack July 30, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Yes and YES. I feel like in my fragile state of mind these days, when I could/can quickly journey to “INSANEVILLE” all I WANT is to hear about the beautiful, awesome, fantastic, abundant lives that my friends are living- because it reminds me no matter how toxic I may feel inside, that that isn’t the reality i’m meant to have. toxic relationships- goodbye, people that make me feel shitty-goodbye, jobs that dont serve me- goodbye. THIS IS IS PERFECTLY WRITTEN AND YES. YES. I’m gonna keep ranting if I don’t stop now. Stopping.

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17 seyma July 31, 2010 at 1:48 am

O:::M:::G

i definitely go with everyone above!! every word is true and every word is a truimph.. i go especially with Nicole: yeah, i loved you before. but now?? you are definitely my idol!! i can worship you. it’s okay :)

you do have a point and you’re COMPLETELY the voice for every single person out there.. and i’m pretty sure whoever reads this -including me- is like ‘fuck! why didn’t i write this?? damn!’

but what about improving/changing for the worse?? that’s how i have been doing against my will for the last 2-3 years.. what about it Jamie??

what should i fucking do to stop it????????????

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18 Laura July 31, 2010 at 8:48 am

I wanted to leave a message and say that’s exactly what I have been going through the last couple of weeks. I had to let go of a couple of relationships that have been disastrous and horrible to my mental and emotional well-being. It wasn’t because I didn’t still love them but they still tried to make me feel like they were, insecure, unhappy, and unsure.

I definitely forfeited loyalty for my sanity, and as this was a recent decision, I hope it is the right one.

Thank you for the lovely blog post, it meant a lot. :)

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19 Sally July 31, 2010 at 8:57 am

Really great post, I LOVED reading it.

I think many people are afraid of change and they simply don’t want you to change.

It’s sad how people seem to want to hold you back.

But like you said at the end, for your sanity, you have to break those ties, FAST!

Sally :)

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20 Nina Amelia July 31, 2010 at 11:00 am

This post describes where I am atm.. Facing the same problems in a friendship I have (had??). People who were like family to me.. So thank you for posting this.

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21 shannon August 2, 2010 at 9:05 am

“That conversation grows silent if you have nothing to complain about. ”

i totally get this. i have friends, who live in the same city, no less, who i barely see because they are from a different time in my life. and if i DO see them, we just reminisce about old times, gossip, and complain. and i leave feeling unsatisfied, superficial, and immature.
so i’m ok with change and moving on from these people, and you should be too.

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22 Vishesh Narayen August 2, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Self-betterment, to the extent it involves cutting off unhealthy relationships (friendship or otherwise), is the ultimate delayed gratification. Worse, it may not even lead to gratification; who knows if pruning will lead to a happier, healthier you? Worse still, you can’t help but feel a little selfish when you decide to prune (I keep using that word because it seems so apt) unhealthy relationships. I mean, you’re essentially saying “as much as I care about you, I will be a happier, healthier person without you; therefore, I am eliminating you from my life.” There’s nothing that doesn’t suck about that.

Anyway, hang in there.

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23 Kristin R August 3, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Long time reader first time poster. I simply had to tell you how beautiful I think your writing in this post is. Your honesty is captivating. As a twenty-something I’ve frequently been reflecting on why I am not currently running, sprinting towards greatness. Why am I settling for an unfulfilling life in which I hate my job? I am sorry to hear the new improved you has been met with malcontent by what seems were very close friends of yours. I can imagine, by your own words, how hurtful that has been. But I want you to know you are absolutely making the right choice by banishing the toxic influences in your life and believing that your new found self-worth is more valuable than any other relationship in your life right now. I think everyone has been spot on with their comments thus far, and I hope that if there comes a time when your courage feels as though it will falter, you come back to this post and these comments and find your fortitude once again.

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24 cazz August 4, 2010 at 2:04 pm

This is me right now….total nail on the head, struggling to understand whats happening to me but embracing it, relising that for once in my life im actually thinking of whats right for me, not hiding my feelings but expressing them and not worrying about the reaction you get from other people, if they dont like it then thats their problem not mine, but its hard really hard because you want them with you, you want them to understand, you want them to feel this for themselves but you realise you cant fix them and its ok to leave them behind, you have to because im more important and thats it really, you realise you live your life for you and whats best for you and its good but sad, you just go with it and realise its not as hard as it seems…..what have i been doing for the last 30 years, ive lived in a buble of ignorance hoping it will get better but doing nothing about it….

the best thing ive ever read, during this crazy change in life, thank you

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25 bruce August 4, 2010 at 2:46 pm

ah jamie. well written. well articulated. couple thoughts to ponder.
1. change is typically about moving forward. or zig zagging a little in life. regardless. nothing about it contains stagnancy. what that means is other lead, follow, maybe go by your side or just get the hell out of your way. but moving forward means other unwilling to move (those who fear the discomfort of change) wont move. and (even worse) if a friend will discourage movement.
2. now. unsupportive friends. (i will avoid toxic relationships as a ‘good riddance’). be fair. as you noted people don’t like change. in fact most people avoid change like the plague. you have made a personal decision. sounds like a good healthy one. but your change demands change from others. once again. some will follow. as one commenter used this word .. some ‘lighthouse people’ may actually lead slightly but most will hold on slightly in the beginning but resist change an be left behind. sad? maybe. but life is about moving. if someone doesn’t want to (as you state) it is personal choice … you can only move, maybe ask them to come along … but in the end their non-support is more there own desire to resist change more than anything else … and that is what we all struggle with.
nicely written. i have probably written a dozen things on change an self doubt and stuff like that and yours is probably better than anything i have written.

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26 Lindsay August 5, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Well said. I’m figuring all this out as we speak. And you’re right. It is sad when you realize your visions of you don’t match up with others visions of you. And you have to let them go.

And I think changing is the scary, more courageous route. A lot of people stay where they are because it’s just easier.

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27 Anna August 5, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Omg stop reading my mind. This is something I’m going through at the moment.

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28 Michelle Bizon August 9, 2010 at 2:23 pm

This is so true, Jami! Thanks for the inspiration! My social life took a 180 over the past year, and I now have an almost entirely different group of friends. It was difficult for me to let go of those old friendships, but I’ve come to realize that holding on to those toxic friends who refuse to let me grow as a person would only hurt me overall. I’m still grappling with these feelings, as I am generally loyal to a fault, but I know deep down that it was the best move for me. I’m glad you’re coming to a similar realization and making yourself a priority! You must do what’s best for you. If others belittle your successes, they’re not worth your time or effort. They should exude joy in support of your growth – not discount your efforts.

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29 Janel August 19, 2010 at 6:57 pm

This is beyond beautiful, and precisely what I’m fearing right now. Funny how I’ve never heard anyone mention this before, although I’ve felt this fear many times. Augh. Fantastic.

(by the way, this post alone convinces me to further follow your writing…)

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30 donna September 7, 2010 at 2:06 pm

When you truly internalize your changes, you won’t give a damn what other people say about you. If you stop reacting to what they say or do, they’ll stop saying or doing it.

You don’t have to cut people off. You just have to be strong enough in yourself that they no longer affect you.

Good luck in your changes, and namaste.

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31 Alex December 26, 2010 at 7:27 pm

I go back and read this every couple of months because it gives me hope!

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32 alfiesaden January 4, 2012 at 3:49 am

hello – is it just me !! can any one explain why when i type in the yahoo browser “www.alifeintranslation.com” i get a different site yet whe i type it in google its ok? could this be a bug in my system or is any one else having same probs ?
sadensy

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