The original Responsibility v Love post got so much traction that I decided to write a follow-up piece. Disclaimer: Unless you have children, wards, a sick family member that you are taking care of or an agreement to make decisions on behalf of someone important and valuable to you, you are not responsible for those you love. Their actions don’t represent you. Their preferences and success don’t automatically become yours. You are an individual with needs that must be met. Don’t sacrifice your soul for those you love without boundaries and limitations. Know your breaking points and respect them or you will end up empty and depleted.
The only person that represents yourself is you. Non negotiable.
However, when you are in a relationship the pressure is on those involved to take care of each other because nobody else will stick their nose into your private business. (Even if they do they will not fully understand what is going on to resolve your particular predicament.) Guiding someone through life is an involved task, daunting at the least and exhausting at best. Before you jump into marriage or commit to raising kids, each couple should discuss all the things that can go wrong and have a plan on how to be socially responsible for each other. What does this mean? Regardless of how much in love you are with someone there is a need to discuss more mundane items like inheritances, incarceration, incapacitation, resuscitation and even funeral arrangements. Being in love doesn’t exclude you from this exercise. Neglecting these possibilities can make or break a relationship too.
Always have a Plan B.
Many would like us to believe that we have to somehow feel responsible for our extended family. In a way, you can care and assist them but in no way, shape or form are you obligated to go above and beyond your means to bail them out. Feeling responsible of someone else deprives them of learning experiences. You end up stealing their accountability and giving them a sense of entitlement. Those who never go into the water never learn to swim. You must let them fail so they can gain the skills necessary to swim and save themselves. If not, you will become their perennial lifeline and all their missteps will be on you. That’s no way to live.
Adulting may suck but we have to take charge and tame the beast before it breaks our backs.
It is hard to take responsibility and own up to our mistakes and to have the ovaries or balls to see ourselves as fragile creatures. Death and taxes are inevitable so we must consider how to address both the former and the latter. Unburden those around you by getting life insurance, insurances of any kind for that matter, and by having back up plans in case you are temporarily or permanently not available to take care of your loved ones. Save enough to not depend on the kindness of strangers in case of emergency. Ask around to check who is willing to shelter you and/or bail you out. It may require some thought and networking but it can be done very quickly and efficiently, especially with professional help. (Check local missions and churches as they may offer some guidance or have suggestions on where to go for cheap advise.) The only person responsible for your future is yourself and if you don’t plan for eventualities then those around you will have to make decisions on your behalf that you may not like or approve of later. Don’t leave it up to them to do what is best for you.
Take control of your own destiny.