Everything has changed...

...Even My Name

By Kate Dalton

When I last shared my life with the readers of Castanet, I could have never known how fortuitous the last lines of my column would be.

In March 2017, I discussed how I had left a job I didn’t feel was a good fit for me (mere months after joining the company and without another option lined up) and my journey to find identity outside my profession.

During that time of self-discovery, I shared that I had been set-up by friends on a blind date and that by most standards, it was likely not the ideal time to meet someone new as I was unemployed and temporarily living in my parent’s basement. 

Fast forward to January 2018, less than a year later, I’m employed at a company where I was recently promoted; I’m a homeowner, and, drum roll... I married the man I met on that blind date. 

Ok, let’s back this train up and start where we left off in 2017.

Intentional Unemployment Revisited

Looking back at the lessons I’ve learned this past year, my new working title would be “Don’t burn bridges, even when you’d rather push people off them.”

You never know who is going to crop up in your life again. As a general rule, I would advocate treating others well whether they can do something for you or not and striving to create authentic relationships no matter how temporary a situation you find yourself in.  

Last year, I ended up working for three different companies. Long story short, I gave myself permission to explore new roles and subsequently to leave some that did not seem to be a fit.

Nonetheless, I gave each employer my best efforts and I chose to see the unique attributes of new colleagues and find common ground with them. 

In the end, I found myself back with a team I had formerly worked with, but had left on great terms. In the journey of unemployment and new employers, I found connections, encouragement and assistance in the most unlikely of places and forged lasting connections with numerous people, even if we no longer share a cubicle.

I am fully convinced that no matter what life throws your way, you will never regret being civil, maintaining a professional stance, and striving to view the actions of others through a lens of compassion and grace. (Disclaimer: I usually only attempt to take the aforementioned high road after I’ve had some wine and vented with my girlfriends).

Low Expectations

That’s exactly what I had when I went on a blind date with my now husband. His cousin and my friend set us up. The only photo I had seen of him showed he had an affinity for wearing festive Christmas suits.

I decided to break from current societal norms and refrained from stalking him online prior to our date. We decided on a non-committal morning coffee. Three hours and two lattes later (well, he had an Americano if you want to get specific) we both knew there was something special about our interaction.  

He asked if I wanted to meet up again, I responded with an overly eager “YES” and we were engaged three months later. 

I was 30 years old when I went on that date. I would not consider myself an overly dramatic person, but I had recently come to terms with the idea that I may never meet someone I had the desire to see for a second date, let alone marry.

It truly was the most unexpected time for me to meet my future husband and I’m quite thrilled that I kept an open mind and refused to settle for relationships that did not feel like the best fit for me (much like employment).

Now, that I’m a wife, I’ve carried the notion of low expectations into my marriage. For me, this is not pessimism, but rather a healthy outlook.

In the vows I read to my husband on our wedding day, amid the list of hopeful and seemingly altruistic pledges I made, I was sure to include the promise that “I will always be imperfect and I will make mistakes. There will be misunderstandings and days when we feel disappointed, hurt, and annoyed.”

And it’s held true. And I’m nonetheless very happy and full of gratitude. I don’t expect anything more from my husband than I am willing to give to him, and sometimes I expect even less than that. 

We both started from a place where we acknowledged that if neither of us ever changed, it’s OK — we are enough as we are. 

I’ve never been happier or felt more loved, appreciated, and accepted, and yes, I have an incredible husband with some great qualities, but I firmly believe that those low expectations and taking the pressure off of what marriage and life are supposed to look like are total game changers.

It’s OK to Not Be OK

I don’t have a magic formula for how to achieve your best life in under a year. Maybe you’re currently experiencing some of the most difficult moments of your life. Make no mistake; my year was not without struggle.

There were times of self-doubt and fear, and there were many tears cried, and self-help books read, and countless conversations with amazing people who lifted me up when I wasn’t sure where my path would lead.

Sometimes we need to keep moving, but other times we need to get some practice just being still. It’s OK to admit when you’re not in a great space. It’s brave. It’s vulnerable. It’s good for the soul.

As I like to say to my husband, “You do you,” even if you’re still figuring out who that is.

Kate Dalton believes in the power of investing in people. With a varied background in marketing and communications, Kate has a growth-mindset that drives her to continually develop as a person and a professional, helping others along the way. Email: [email protected].

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