Recently, I’ve had several conversations about motivation and intention—why some women aim to look a certain way, get really lean, strong or, some would say, “look like men”; post fitness progress pictures on Instagram; or pursue physical activity to an extent some would consider a little too much. Why yoga? Why crossfit? Why running? Why this or that?
Let me tell you this right away: no one can answer this for you except, well… you. Being in a couple when you’re both in the same city or same home is hard enough, and maintaining an LDR is surely harder. I’m sharing the thinking process that led me to my decision to perhaps help you ask the questions that need to be asked.
This is the third time my husband and I are doing the long-distance thing. While I still think choosing to live in two different places is ‘unnatural’ for a couple, I don’t think it’s weird or unnatural when a couple decide to do so.
While this is my fourth major move as an ‘expat,’ I have to admit there are some things that may seem basic to others, but that I’m still learning with each new move. I’ve gotten much better at negotiating, getting what I deserve (and want), and making sure I’m valued for what I’m worth. Having said that, maybe it’s social conditioning or it could be biological… but I’m well aware that I, like many women, still have the tendency of being ‘too nice’ or not being aggressive enough in communicating my demands and making sure they are met. Here are a few things I’ve learned in a career of 15 years (so far):
What’s your why? That is the single most important question you should answer for yourself. Your why may stay the same or change over time, so it’s crucial to constantly reassess and always have this ultimate personal truth in mind. It’s not faux spirituality or an abstract new age concept. It’s logical and quite simple: how can you be the captain of your own life’s ship if you don’t know where you’re heading?
“We’d like to make you an offer,” the e-mail began. I gasped, whispered yes!, briefly soaked in the feeling of sweet victory, and breathlessly shared the good news with a few people. Then, a few minutes later, it turned to disbelief with a tinge of doubt. Wait, what? They chose me? I wonder why… Note to self: STOP right there. I should’ve Googled it much sooner. Type > > I m p o s t o r S y n d r o m e, and within seconds, I would’ve realised that I wasn’t alone—that feeling like a fraud was more common than I thought. It wasn’t until I came across Natalie Portman’s Harvard Commencement 2015 speech that it dawned on me: it’s NOT just me. Natalie Portman experiences it. Even Natalie Portman. The Natalie Portman. I felt a huge sense of relief. I was then able to detach myself from the “feeling” and look at it objectively. I read article after article and found out that it’s more common among women, and it’s common …
I’ve had many dream jobs. They change as time goes by and I achieve Level 1, unlocking the next stage. I upgrade and tweak my dreams, so to speak. Before I get into the how’s, let me separate my actions into two parts: sustained actions which I’ve done over a long period of time and continue to do so, and tactical actions which specifically target a goal—in this case, a specific job.
It’s that time of year again where we get to look back on the year that was and resolve to do better and be better in the year(s) to come. While changing for the better is ideally practiced every day and at every possible moment, there is something romantic about doing a yearly ‘one-time-big-time’ exercise of taking stock of our lives and doing a ‘life cleanse’. Getting rid of physical things Often, sorting out what’s in our heads can be difficult and overwhelming. What helps me get in the right frame of mind to ‘sort’ life out is physically clearing out my closet, cabinets, boxes, luggage, and getting rid of anything that brings no added value, meaning or joy into my life. I’ve always been averse to owning many things, but for one reason or another, I’m not completely spared from the annoying human habit of inadvertently accumulating all sorts of useless stuff over time. I actually did it, I threw out more than a dozen trash bags full of old receipts, packaging, useless brochures, …
The experience has taught me many things, one of which is this: there is no right answer to what success is. Because happiness is subjective, it isn’t rational to have a one-size-fits-all measuring stick for life. We get to decide how we measure the quality of the lives we live. Forget everyone else’s notion of success, happiness and fulfilment. The most accurate life compass you can rely on lies in your heart and the depths of your gut.
When it comes to women and relationships, there’s nothing more frustrating than to see intelligent, strong, successful, self-sufficient, well-travelled, beautiful women succumb to desperation. Desperation because of a man. Desperate for the love of a man. In extreme cases, it doesn’t even matter which man. Just any man will do.
In articles that explore the ‘secret’ to a lasting relationship, I’ve come across kindness, tolerance, acceptance, companionship, respect, and many other wonderful traits couples who’ve been together for a long time have.
But there’s something I haven’t come across yet, and personally, it’s something that has worked for me for the past 15 years. I also see this in Michelle and Barack Obama’s relationship.
It’s the most unromantic-sounding trait, but from a purely rational perspective, it’s almost a no-brainer to understand why this is a powerful glue that can hold a couple together and keep them happy together.