You’ve got a certain set of requirements that are what you look for in a job or a relationship. You’ve been down that road where along the way to finding that job or relationship, people have tried to get you to compromise on what’s important. Don’t listen to them because they’re white noise at best. Listen instead to your gut when it comes to determining your needs whether it’s for dating or work.
When I was getting ready for college, I remember having a conversation with my mom about dating while in college. She was trying to convince me that boys like girls who are “girly” (this is my best translation from Vietnamese), aka girls who wore pretty dresses & skirts and some makeup (but not too much because that would make me a tramp), who laughed shyly into cupped hands. However, I refused to bite. I hated (and still hate) wearing dresses, I hate wearing makeup (I walk through the cosmetics counters at stores like a fish out of water), and I laugh louder and jollier than Santa Claus (I don’t know what this means but it sounds good).
Ever since I was a little girl, I had made up my mind to find a boy who liked me for who I was, not for who I should be to attract the opposite sex. I saw girls in my elementary, middle, and high school classes act stupid because they thought boys liked stupid girls. I saw girls wearing way too much makeup way too early of an age to try to attract the popular boys (what business does a 4th grader have wearing eyeshadow, blush, and lipstick?!). I saw boys make fun of girls who didn’t have big boobs. I saw girls turn on their own friends to vie for the attention of these rotten boys instead of telling them to go to hell for being jerks. I didn’t like these things that I saw, and they left an indelible impression on me, enough to make me formulate a firm decision to find a boy who liked me for who I was. I was going to stand by my convictions, and if that meant I’d die a creepy old cat lady, so be it.
My mom thought I was being crazy. I decided to let time and fate prove me right and her wrong.
I began college in the fall and found myself signing up for a French class as one of my electives. As I sat in class pretending to listen to the professor, I looked around the room scoping out which boys were the cutest. One caught my eye and I began flirting like a bandit to get his attention. I had low expectations that anything would end up productive, but I was totally wrong. WHOA. WHAT? Here I was, a freshman who had zero sense of fashion sense (my favorite outfit involved a hideous ball cap of sorts, along with an oversized T-shirt with rolled up sleeves, rolled-up knee-length denim shorts, and Birkenstocks) and zero makeup, yet this cute boy was not only responding to my flirting, but he actually asked me out on a date!
We ended up dating seriously and I would occasionally incredulously ask him, “How were you possibly attracted to me??” to which he answered that it wasn’t about what I was wearing, but how I seemed very confident that caught his attention and made me attractive to him. I was floored and flattered. Here was this great guy who was totally into me and for none of the reasons my mom argued a boy would only look for. If I had started wearing makeup, changed how I liked to dress, and controlled how much and how loudly I like to laugh, I would have strayed from my true nature and I couldn’t sleep at night if I did that.
I worked with a recruiter once who we’ll call “James”. James and I met up the first time over lunch to discuss what I was looking for both role-wise and benefits-wise. At the time I had 4 weeks of vacation, no matching 401K, but decent healthcare benefits including vision and dental insurance. I told James that I was looking to do software development at X base salary, that I needed the same or better healthcare benefits, and 5 weeks of vacation since my rule was to never go downwards in vacation time allowed, always upwards.
James laughed at me.
He actually laughed at me.
Needless to say, I got annoyed and asked him what was so funny. James laughed some more and replied, “You are crazy if you think you can find a place that will give you 5 weeks of vacation! Four weeks is already high and hard to find, so I don’t know where you’re going to be able to find that.” At that moment, I decided that James wasn’t going to work out for me as a recruiter. A good recruiter would have said, “That’s definitely going to be challenging to find but let me see what I can do.” Instead he dismissed my request without even blinking an eye.
I finished my lunch meeting with James and kept up my independent job search. Job searching, like dating, takes a lot of patience and good timing. Eventually an opportunity fell into my lap that offered me all of the things I was looking for in a new job: X base salary (with a good bonus structure to boot), great healthcare benefits (including vision and dental coverage)…
…and 5 weeks vacation.
If I had listened to James with blind trust, I would have settled for some opportunity when I didn’t have to. Thankfully, I listened to my gut and it paid off.
Everyone has different needs, and yours are no exception. You know what you need out of a job or a relationship. You know what will make you happy, and when you’re happy, you can actually make other people happy. As long as you are being reasonable about these needs, don’t bend to the possible misguidance from others, no matter how well-intentioned they may be. Don’t undermine what’s important for you and to you, because you will only be doing yourself a disservice. Think carefully about your needs, and if anyone does the compromising on any of them, it must be you. Your gut knows what’s best for you.