By BRYANT MATERA and KAT DICKENSON
Boundaries are an important part of every relationship. But the “boundaries” we’re talking about here are not limited to the physical. They can really refer to anything, whether it be what you’re comfortable talking about, where you’re comfortable going or what you find acceptable to do.
How do you make them clear in your relationship? And first and foremost, how do you define them for yourself?
BAM: Honestly, I think the easiest way to figure out your own limits would boil down to this: can you live with whatever you’re about to choose to do? I don’t care if its talking about your past relationships, (unless they really should know something), or moving to the next stage with your current one. You really need to ask yourself if you can live with your choice on your conscience.
KED: Regrets are not something I myself would like to live with, and so I try to live in a way that would best avoid such acts. Of course everyone is going to make a mistake, so don’t punish yourself too much. Forgiving yourself is important to letting the action go.
Make sure that you know not to be in the same situation again if or when it comes around next time. Always learn from past actions, whether they are your own or others. It helps you figure out what is really true to your own being.
BAM: Develop your own personal honor code. I really can’t stress it enough. It’s probably a bit extreme, but here’s another tidbit to live by: if you wouldn’t want it published in the paper, don’t do it. In other words, if you wouldn’t want to own up to your actions, if you don’t want to be held accountable or are so ashamed that you wouldn’t want your mother/best friend/the whole world finding out, chances are the choice you’re about to make isn’t quite in line with who you really are. Don’t compromise your integrity or identity for anyone or anything. Standing up for and staying true to yourself is a real mark of character and maturity.
KED: Knowing what to stand up for is another thing entirely. Observe the world around you. Here in a university, we’re kind of in a little world of our own making. Just because you might be surrounded by people you don’t know does not give you license to act out of character.
Don’t do something for the sake of others, or to look good in their eyes. That isn’t you, and that isn’t the way you should live. At the same time, don’t let the fact that you’re surrounded by people you don’t know become a reason that you should just sit back and let your choices be squashed by being scared.
BAM: Here’s my ultimate quote, lifted from Batman Begins: “It’s not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you.” It means that whoever you think you are “deep down” doesn’t really matter when your actions betray it entirely. It is a little harsh, but it is pretty honest.
Most people are going to judge you by your actions, and rightfully so, because your actions are the best litmus test for the measure of your character. It is your responsibility to make sure that your actions speak for you. I mean, does anybody remember Nixon or Jefferson for being a nice guy?
KED: I don’t know if I would go that far, but I guess the point still stands. I think that the person underneath is the true being, but if that person doesn’t ever shine through, then how do you come across to other people?
Don’t be afraid to say “no” to a friend if you don’t agree. The ones who stand up are the strong ones, and it is those kinds of people that become the leaders of the world. Saying what you really think will always get you further in life than taking a backseat and letting someone else be behind the wheel.
Grab life by the horns, do what you need to do, but never compromise who you are for anything. Often who you are will change, especially here, but you’re going to know better than anybody else what your limits are.
Don’t feel like you have to surrender or change yourself. Sometimes the best decision isn’t the popular one. A lot of people won’t understand that. If you find yourself in that kind of situation, it’s time to find some new friends. Keep the boundaries you set for yourself, and that will overflow into your relationships.