One of the biggest growth areas in my room has been my relationship skills. It is something that I am constantly working on and being only nineteen, I know I still have a lot to learn. Growing up and navigating my own relationships with my parents, friends, and boyfriend, I have realized that there is no easy way to perfect a relationship. Nobody can give you all the answers, and often times, the advice others give you is selective to their experience so that leaves you to your own devices.
However, in my short amount of time, there are some things that I have learned that may be useful for others.
When it comes to relationships with parents, it can be difficult because there are already a lot of expectations that they are waiting for you to live up to. Jada Pinkett Smith recently said in one of her "Red Table Talks" that expectations can steal joy and blind you from the blessings already present. These expectations can present a lot of problems for a child and their parents.
From my experience, the ability to understand and compromise is necessary on both sides. Communication is the biggest key in any relationship but particularly between a child and their parents. Rather than communicating with a passive aggressive silence, it is important to be able to articulate what you're feeling. The authoritative dynamic of parenthood can be effective, but parents, you are never too important to apologize to your children when necessary.
Friends, however, are a different story. I have been lucky enough to have some amazing friendships in my life as well as a handful of toxic friendships that have taught me some important lessons. Toxic friendships have showed me the importance of self-respect and recognizing that when somebody in your life is no longer serving a positive purpose, it is time to walk away. Letting go of people will always be a difficult thing to do, but as you get older, it becomes easier to realize it is a necessity.
As for successful friendships, such as the one I have with my best friend, I have learned that the biggest thing is that you do not need to talk 24/7 to maintain an important friendship. As you are exploring different life paths, it becomes less necessary to speak all day everyday but instead, it is crucial to recognize the moments when you two really need each other. Being there for each other when it is needed most is most essential to maintaining that friendship. Again, I feel that this is something that comes with maturity in my experience.
Finally, one of the most important relationships in my life is the one I have with my boyfriend. As we've been together for almost two years, I have learned a great deal about compassionate and selfless love. The biggest challenge we have encountered is pursuing two completely different paths in life that kept us physically apart. In dealing with that struggle, together we have learned the importance of open and honest communication, even when it's hard. Being able to discuss things in a way that is not angry, irrational, or accusatory has been my biggest lesson. The rough patches have taught me the most, forcing me to evaluate what I truly want from a partner and how to listen to what he wants as well.
At the end of the day, it is simply about being with the person you love, and the rest will come.