When you’re dating, you will likely make pronouncements about how you feel about various topics, whether that be parenting, where you want to live, what you want to do with your life, how religious you are or want to be, what side of politics you lean towards, and so on and so forth.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind one day.
And if you’re in a relationship, that doesn’t mean your partner will have to agree or support your change of heart. Oftentimes you won’t realize how you feel about a certain topic until you’re in the moment when said topic presents itself. You are allowed to change your mind, but if it’s something pretty huge (like deciding you no longer want kids, want to move halfway around the world, or want to become an Orthodox Jew), then you can’t expect a significant other to instantly decide to change their life along with you. Follow your heart’s desire of course, and don’t decide not to change because you’re afraid your partner won’t approve or will break up with you. At the end of the day you have to be true to yourself.
That said, if you’re engaged, married or have children, altering your life drastically may be more of an issue, and it’s important to make major decisions like this as a couple.
Hanging on the wall of my bedroom, there is a poster that has been with me in every room I’ve ever lived in, from when I shared a room with my brother as a kid to my dorm room to the bedroom I sleep in now. That poster is a poster of one of my favorite things: my name. Written around my name are compliments from fifth grade friends from an exercise my school completed weekly of hanging posters of a students’ name in each classroom. Every student went around and wrote nice things about each person, and at the end of the week the poster was laminated and given to us.
Some of the compliments make sense: “Have a very successful year!” “You’re a great friend!” “You’re cool!”. Some make a little less sense: “You’re good at football!” or the person who decided to write “Hi”. But one thing on my poster as well as the poster my brother has hanging in his room is one comment that I really like: “Don’t ever change.”
As I sit here on the eve of my 24th birthday, I think about how much about my life has changed in the last year. I’ve changed jobs, I’ve travelled more, I’ve become better at giving of myself and doing volunteer work more often. Heck, I’m writing for a dating website that until a year ago I’d hardly had any luck with as a user! Life is at its best when it is changing.
With all that in mind, I don’t believe the core of me has changed at all. One of my favorite rabbis once told me a story about a person who said they changed completely and made everyone ask “were you really so bad before?” One of my favorite books, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, talks of becoming our habits. I suppose in some ways I have become my new habits, and that’s great, but it hasn’t changed who I am.
What’s fundamental about me is that I am a person who loves my Jewish culture, I like to help others, and I have a passion for any job placed before me. Those traits won’t change. Maybe next year people will be able to accurately say I got good at football, but they won’t be able to say Aaron at 24 fundamentally changed a bit.