Somehow, without fail, Kyle and I end up being the last to leave a party or BBQ. I like to think it's because we're the Energizer Bunnies of Fun, but truthfully, we thrive on the quality time we get with the host/hostess when the party goers are gone. These quality moments are when the walls come down and the meaningful conversations happen; when the bonding and the memories begin or, as Kyle lovingly puts it, "when the REAL partying goes down."
I'm new to Kyle's group of friends, so I tend to be more of a listener than a sharer in these situations, and it's amazing to me to see the bonds that his friends have kept up over the years. They're still close as can be, even after life has taken them in such different directions. Honestly, it's part of why I love Kyle so much: he has some really awesome friends who he loves with his whole heart and that's really attractive to me.
Now that we're back in California, I worried about how I would fit in to this group of friends. I would be around all the time now: seeing them more frequently than just a couple of hours on our annual holiday tour and I would go from being "Kyle's girlfriend who lives in Atlanta" to "Ashten, Kyle's girlfriend who we can see at any/all major events". I felt like a character before.....part of a story told over a glass of wine at dinner. Now, I'm in it. I'm here, I'm around and I'm going to be part of the group by association.
My biggest fear? Judgement. Kyle and I moved in together after dating for 10 months. He moved to Atlanta for me, we moved back to California together. By traditional standards, we've moved "fast" and I was worried about how I would be received as a result.
Side note: no one has made me FEEL this way, I'm just a worry-wort who over-analyzes everything. See also: social anxiety.
Though I spent weeks agonizing leading up to spending time with them for the first time after we moved home, our first party together was so much fun. As we sat around talking at the end of the night, everyone praised us for all we had accomplished as a couple since we started dating and how we've passed some relationship milestones along the way. As we drove home that night a lesson I learned in one of my Communication classes in college bubbled to the surface:
People always speak from their experiences. Their advice, their narratives, the way they encourage or criticize you will always be based on their experiences, their truth.
You can't make decisions based on what other people think you should do. You have to make decisions based on what is best for YOU.
If I worried what other people thought about some of the decisions Kyle and I have made, I could have held myself back from experiencing some really wonderful months of living together, from some bonding experiences, from learning about each other. Our relationship has blossomed and thrived because of things people might deem "fast". I'm happy and proud that we made those decisions together.
No one knows Ashten and Kyle like Ashten and Kyle. Our relationship, though shared with friends and the blogging world, truly happens behind closed doors when it's just him and me. No one can tell us the best thing for us, because they aren't us. When it comes time to choose what's best for us and our relationship, our decisions will be made by evaluating what's best for US: not friends, not family, not Twitter.....us.
This is not to say it's not important to ask for advice from people you trust. I do think that other people's experiences are valuable when making a big decision or going through a change. I just think at the end of the day, you know you best and shouldn't be completely swayed by someone whose story isn't your own. The best thing to do is listen, be gracious, take the experience to heart, and go with what is best for you.
All my fears of judgement were for nothing, as my fears usually are. Because the truth is? The best of friends will always support you, even if you don't follow their advice or do what they would've done. The best of friends will sit with you after the party is over and the dishes are done, and will laugh with you, welcome you into their lives and celebrate with you.
We all have our own paths in life. We all make our own choices. It's not our job to sit in judgement of others; it's our job to love unconditionally and when the big decisions get made, to throw a party and be happy.
No matter what, believe in yourself enough to do what is right for you. The right people will follow.
PS: I talked about this topic in my episode of Couragemakers. Click here to listen to my episode.