There’s something about the entertainment industry that really excites me. Even when I was a kid, music and performing held a special place in my heart because it felt promising. I used to tell everyone I wanted to be a singer when I grew up and on some days, even as an adult, that’s still true. I ran around my best friend’s yard singing Jonas Brothers songs and I used to point to every passing plane wondering if Joe Jonas was on it while we swam in her pool. I’m not kidding. I was a Disney Channel loser but I loved every second of it.
As you can probably tell, my “heroes” were all popular performers when I was a kid. Some got their start on Disney Channel, others in Nashville. But the idea was the same: they made it. I practiced saying “Hi, my name is Shawna and you’re watching Disney Channel” more times than I’d like to admit and spent many summers watching Hannah Montana on my grandma’s floor.
I’m not sure if this ran nationally but I remember sitting by the radio ALL DAY one summer to hear a 30-second ad about Disney Channel auditions. Part of me was beyond excited but the skeptical part of me figured it was a scam. You can probably tell which part of me won that war. Hi, my name is Shawna and you are DEFINITELY NOT watching Disney Channel. You are watching me grow up to get a college education and work in an office for a living. Cheers!
Anyway, I’m telling you this because I wanted to write about something Demi Lovato mentions in her documentary called Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated that has shaped how I view love. If you’re unfamiliar, this Youtube Originals documentary first aired in 2017 and gives a raw look at Demi’s experience with fame. When I watched early last year, I was wowed by Demi’s story and her resilience. Despite her struggle, it renewed my love for music and performing. Her personal triumph reminded me that we are not alone with our challenges, even when our lives look different, and we are also stronger than what we give ourselves credit for.
Watching it again to write this, brought back all those feelings of promise and excitement so I knew this was the right direction to take the post in.
You can watch Demi’s documentary here:
At 37:18, Demi talks about her break-up with Wilmer Valderrama and she says: “I do have moments where it’s late at night and I’m lonely and I wonder if I made the right decision because love is a gamble.” I’ve been thinking about those words ever since I first watched this documentary and that’s what I’m going to talk about today. When love is a gamble who do you bet on?
I think we all reach the question of “should I stay or should I go” at one point or another in our relationships. I guess there’s a couple out there who “just knows” and “always knows” but I think it’s more common to have doubts crop up from time to time, especially as we go through major life changes. The way we handle these doubts, I believe, is what sets a strong relationship apart from one built on an unsteady foundation. Let me dig into that a little more.
When we ask ourselves “should I stay or should I go,” what we are really getting at is “will leaving produce better results than staying” or “is it worth the gamble?” In my experience, answering that question is less cut and dry than asking it because there are SO MANY variables. Every relationship leaves us with pros and cons lists but not every list we create helps us relieve the tension we feel when faced with these questions. When “should I stay or should I go” remains unanswered and the tension within us continues, we seek advisors.
Advisors come in several forms. We can find them on the internet, in our families, and among our friends. In my experience, when we seek out advisors, we hope that the information they provide will ease the conflict within. I think it’s safe to say, we have all experienced a run in with both positive and negative advisors when it comes to relationships. What sets good advice apart from bad advice is less about what is said but more about how relaxed it makes us feel and I think we could all work on giving suggestions that support rather than confuse.
So when love’s a gamble what type of advice can you expect to receive? In my experience, a negative advisor might say something like “well, if you have to ask, that’s good enough reason to leave.” And while this might be the silver bullet of wisdom one person is looking for, it’s not the best piece of advice one can give. Here’s why:
- It places too much emphasis on the other person in the relationship and what they are doing.
- It makes one party right and the other wrong.
- It fosters more doubt where love, support, and a new perspective may be more effective.
- It assumes you’re in the right mindset to use your intuition.
- It nullifies the pros from your pros and cons list.
- And finally, it doesn’t usually decrease inner turmoil. It just magnifies it.
For me, love should exist even in the presence of doubts. Relationships can’t be perfect all the time and at some point all couples will experience difficulties. It’s those moments where we wonder if it’s worth the gamble to stay or leave. I believe love is about seeing those doubts clearly and determining what course of action you can take that benefits both parties. Sometimes that means walking away, sometimes that means giving it time. In a relationship that is not abusive or toxic, coming to that conclusion should be intentional, not just a strategy for escape.
When someone’s only advice to us is to just throw it away, we become more, rather than less, conflicted. It reduces the relationship down to just the cons and keeps your focus planted on the other person and what they are doing wrong. I think what people are really getting at is: “what does your intuition say?” And while I think this is great in itself, I don’t believe your intuition is very effective if you’re not in touch with who you are.
So with that said, I think the best advice you can give someone questioning their relationship, someone who has recognized that there is a risk associated with staying AND leaving, is this: when love is a gamble, bet on yourself first. Everyday we have the opportunity to work on ourselves, to give ourselves the same love we have been giving others. When we are experiencing turmoil is when we need this reminder the most.
We need someone to show us the value in coming home to who we are and what we want out of our lives, regardless of what the outcome of the relationship is. We need someone to take the emphasis off of that other person, not add more confusion, conflict, and enemy making into the mix. Show the person in turmoil that regardless of what happens in that relationship, they ARE special and deserving of their own attention. Remind them that if they bet on their partner to come through and they don’t, they’ve lost not only the relationship, but also themselves.
Love IS a gamble but you’re more equipped to make the right decisions when you give to yourself first. Everything else will fall into place if your cup is full, trust me. So go out there feeling supported, in control, and faithful that everything will be okay. We deserve it!
For more, find me on Instagram (@shawna__robertson) and follow this blog via email by clicking the subscribe button in the side bar.