Letting go of the Fairytale and Taking Personal Responsibility

by Brooke Ferguson on September 30, 2009

Here it is.  The moment of truth.  I, like most of my female counterparts, have held onto the Disney dream that it was only a matter of time until the man in shining armor arrived at my door, ready to tell me wonderful things, take me amazing places, and pay off my credit card debt.  He’s handsome, strong, and happy to do it.  Oh, and he is perfectly balanced, has his career (as Prince Charming) completely figured out, and rolls around in money from investment funds that he has mastered.  As much as I hate to admit this, I have held onto the idea that:

Some Man Somewhere is going to Rescue Me

There.  I said it.

Sigh.

There is a Big Reason why I am posting this.  It is not a female rant about men, nor is it only geared towards women readers.  I want to spend a bit of time in this post talking about our upbringing and how it shapes us.  But mostly, I want to talk about stepping up and taking Personal Responsibility.

Putting Relationships First

We tend to get distracted by what is going on around us.  Specifically, we get distracted in our lives by Personal Relationships.  In my life, my family values personal relationships more than anything.  Especially on my mother’s side of the family.  The amount of family activities and involvement was overwhelming to me growing up and I remember feeling at an early age that there was always an event to rush off to.  As I got older, I began to opt out of many of these events, eventually moving out of the state and became less active in the family activities side of my personal relationships.

When I talk to my family and friends, the first information they want to know is about my love life.  Who am I dating, how is it going?  Is there potential there?  I know women tend to spend a considerable amount of time talking to eachother about the relationships in their lives.  I wonder if it is genetic—like somehow we’ve personally taken on the responsibility of ALL THE RELATIONSHIPS IN THE WORLD.

It wasn’t until recently that I had the epiphany of discovering how much time is wasted trying to figure out other people.

Truth be told, my main function, my Whole Life has been mostly on this Disney directed idea that I was going to find myself a man, and then life would get better.

Playing Around with our Careers

When our main focus is dependent on our relationship, we are really just playing around with our careers. We know we need to have a focus, and do something meaningful, but when Mr. Wonderful comes along, we are all too eager to jump ship and follow his success.  I have done this before.  I was once engaged, and left my high-paying job in California to move to Colorado.  I ended up breaking off the engagement and realized what a terrible mistake I made.  I was also was in a long-term relationship where he made the major income.  We moved for his career, not mine.  This is neither right nor wrong, and in each case, what I want to point out is this:

  1. I put my responsibility in someone else’s hands.
  2. They didn’t want to take responsibility of me.
  3. I didn’t like how it felt to have someone else feel like they needed to take care of me.

What Disney forgets to cover in its Relationship 101 course is that there are feelings and emotions that go along with being carried off on the white horse into the sunset.

We know from statistics that most relationships end over issues related to money.  Is this any surprise?

What We See and What We’re Taught

We, as women have been taught to get educated, be more masculine, and go into a career world, be aggressive, and fight for a dream that we mostly don’t want.  I’m sorry, but the idea of working my ass off forty or more hours a week, and cooking, taking care of my house, myself, and someone else is Not Exactly My Idea of Fun! So, somewhat secretly (until now) I’ve been holding onto the dream that I could step gracefully into a relationship or job or situation where I wouldn’t have to deal with this kind of pressure.

I grew up in a very affluent town.  Many of the moms had the choice of working.  When I moved to California, I worked for CEO’s who had stay at home wives, nannies, housekeepers, and the kind of homes that people were always showing up to.  The gardener, landscaper, architect, carpet cleaner…you name it, they had it.  I had kept myself in my comfort zone by always ending up in situations where the male was the main provider, and I just needed to show up.  I helped organize these people and their lives.  I handled everything from the kids to the property management, travel planning, you name they needed it—I did it.  But the reality was: I was a paid additional stay at home mom.  I was an extra.  I was still in the world of making a man responsible of me.

Reality Sucks

That reality didn’t really sit too well with me.  I was somehow dependent on a situation instead of myself. I was continually putting myself in a situation where a man was providing for my wellbeing, instead of myself. I was still following the Disney Guidelines and waiting for another Disney Rescue.  By living in Disneyland, I could forego most of my personal responsibility. I could continue to put my financial responsibility in someone else’s hands.  I could continually focus primarily on my relationship with men.  I could keep getting educated, without ever stepping out with what I knew.  I could be dependent on seeking approval from everyone.

So here is the deal.  I realized it’s time to suck it up and face reality.  The real deal is that we need to take ownership of ourselves, and take it up a notch when it comes to personal responsibility.  The rest of what we do is just a cop out, an excuse, a fantasy, or even worse…a distraction.  So, embrace the fact that Reality Bites, and let’s get moving on up!

  • Taking Financial Responsibility: I always say this, and I’ll say it again (because it’s true!)  You have two choices with money:  You can Earn More, and You can Spend Less. You want more money right now?  There are your options.  If you choose to do both, you will have much more money!  Sound simple?  It’s a simple concept, but it takes real action.  We have to change our behaviors in order to make this really work.  Want to stop shopping?  Stop going to the mall.  Want to earn more money?  Kick it up a notch.  Nobody’s stopping you (except, well…maybe YOU!)
  • Putting Relationships on the Backburner: Guilty as charged.  This one is my biggie.  I need to shelf the relationships and focus on my career.  By putting myself first, I can get focused and stop Disneylanding around.  If I choose to let go of the man fantasy, I can focus on something far better:  creating a life and income that supports itself, anywhere in the world. Kick that, Cosmo!
  • Educating as an Expert: Way too often, we are looking for the answers outside of ourselves.  We think we need one more degree, one more book, and one more piece of information before we can be…well…whole.  WRONG!  Here is the biggest bit of info I can give you:  You already have the answers.  Step it up in your life and in your field and take the main-stage. You are ready, so get up there and start educating others.  Be the expert.
  • Get Money, Not Approval: I’ve spent too many years of my life trying to get approval.  I wanted to be liked, wanted to fit in, wanted to be polite, wanted to be quiet.  The reality is, I am who I am—and you can like me or not.  If you are skilled and talented (which I’m sure you are) you should commit to getting paid for what you know.  Stop worrying what people are going to think of you and get paid.  You will care less about the haters if you have the life of your dreams. It’s the prime time of your life…get out there and go get ‘em!

Comments?  Thoughts?  What Fairytales are you holding on to?

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  • http://rcthink.com Ross

    Nice one!

    I know I’ve spent nearly my entire life trying to get approval from everyone I’m around, even those I’m not. I worry myself sick trying to figure out what other people think of me and how to change myself to fit their image of me. What a waste of time.

    It’s definitely nice to get a push to take the wheel and steer the ship where “I” want it to go.

  • Melvin Ram

    You might enjoy this: http://mixergy.com/you-can-make-everything-you-want-come-true-with-maria-sipka/

    This mindset isn’t just something that women are guilty of. Men can sometimes have the idea that one day they’ll find the right damsel in distress, rescue her and life will be filled with wonderful moments. Except that isn’t how it works. All you get is “a project” they magic of which disappears quicker than a jet going full speed.

    Interesting stuff.

  • James

    I’m at the point now, where (as a male) I’m asking if the hard work is worth it. What IS this life for? Is it just for the monetary rewards? I think somewhere along the track, we as a group have forgotten the meaning of life, and have been instead corrupted (by big media) into the idea that money is the ends, and not the means.

    Money doesn’t buy happiness (but it can be fun!).

  • Dan

    The right guy for you actually won’t like you until you have taken responsibility for yourself. Guys who are responsible for themselves and are going places don’t want some subservient woman to slow them, they want a partner in life.

    Good luck.

  • Wouter Meyers

    I agree. Instead of putting relationships on the backburner, start focusing on the kind of relationships you want to have! I’ve given up on the standard ‘Disney’ relationship a long time ago!

  • http://www.eatenbytigers.com Mark Eckenrode

    thanks for the post. i echo James’s sentiments. why have i worked so hard? i’ve done very well in my career, even in my personal life. one day i realized none of it was what i wanted. i had done all the things and accumulated all the stuff that Disney dictated and i didn’t really enjoy it that much. all of it was simply insulation. but i bought into it hoping for the Disney stamp of approval. so, in a personally responsible act, i’ve now cast it all aside.

    the interesting thing is that “personal responsibility” looks a lot different inside a Disney context than when you look at it from your own personal individual one.

  • http://www.presentdaynomads.com Rasheed Hooda

    A good one, Brooke.

    Yes, it is all about taking responsibility. After 22 years, I am finally realizing that she is not the dream woman I thought she would be and I am not capable of being the dream man she wants me to be. It’s time to face reality, take responsibility for myself and start being who I am and who I’m meant to be.

    Either I will be revealed as the man she is looking for and she will show up as the woman I thought I married, or we will part company in the realization that we have served our purpose in each other’s lives and it’s time to grow up and start taking responsibility for the reason I came into this physical dimension.

    A good one and very synchronistic. T%hanks.

  • http://BizBa6.com Joel D Canfield

    I spent most of my life being what the world expected instead of who I really was. Not much fun looking back on the middle 35 years of my life, from 5 to 40.

    My life’s not perfect any more than anyone else’s, but it sure helps that when I get up every morning, I know who’s driving the bus.

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