5 Ways You Need to Stop Waiting to be Rescued
Raise your hand if you’ve ever fantasized about that moment when a hunky, effortlessly witty, super-catch Harvard grad walks into your life and sweeps you off your feet while the words happily ever after sparkle in your trail. Come on, admit it. We’ve all entertained some version of that pipedream, in some way or another. As women—many of whom grew up on Disney magic, rom-coms and even Carrie Bradshaw—we almost can’t help it. It’s practically built into our cultural DNA. The rescue fantasy is real, and the truth, as far as becoming a self-made independent woman is concerned, is that it isn’t just relegated to a gorgeous and perfect significant other.
The Many Faces of “Prince Charming”
For whatever reason, we’re inclined to turn many aspects of our lives into “Prince Charming”—whether it’s a literal romance, a dream job we aspire to or hold onto with all our might, a boss we idolize, a family member we rely on, or even the notion of some future prospect for our life that we can’t yet articulate. We tend to lean on these various Prince Charmings to keep us steady, to be our crutches, to save us, to bail us out.
But here’s some real talk: When we rely on someone to else to make our dreams come true, we actually give up on our dreams. Let that simmer. It’s a key insight because it is precisely our dreams that are the seeds we plant and nurture on our path to become self-made.
When we’re trapped in this pattern, we consciously or unconsciously blame others for our inability to take action. We blame the man who hurt us, or the boss who doesn’t appreciate us or who won’t give us that raise we deserve, or our kid who left home and hardly calls anymore, or our parents who didn’t give us what we needed growing up. Someone is always standing in the way of our best future, someone we expected something from who didn’t come through. And guess what happens after that? Our resentments make us behave like victims.
Take Action Instead of Waiting for Someone or Something to Bail You Out
Rule number one: to empower ourselves, we have to stop making excuses. We have to stop blaming those around us. We have to do something instead of waiting for someone to bail us out. With this in mind, consider the following 5 ways you need to kill the Prince Charming illusion—however it happens to manifest for you—so you can stop waiting to be rescued:
1. Your Husband, Wife or Romantic Partner
If you see your love interest (present or prospective) as the vehicle for your salvation, you’re not only setting him or her up to fail—but you’re also setting yourself up for disappointment. Your romantic partner is a human being with human flaws. And as hard as it is to accept, relationships are not unconditional.
Also, life happens. Sadly, people fall ill or pass away; or get laid off from jobs. The reality is that if any of these things occur, or if our mate hurts us, abuses us, cheats on us, or gambles our money away, we need to have options. No one wants to imagine that a relationship will end (let alone badly), but the fact is that they can and they do. That’s why you must think about cultivating your own money and building your own life and career, even when you are in a relationship that you hope is forever. Breakups are painful, we get it. But being broke after the fact is even worse.
2. Your Super Boss
You know that employer who treats you like gold, lauds your every move, and consistently smiles at you with approval from behind his or her desk? You might think you’ll get ahead by doting on them and seeking their recognition. But make no mistake: they are looking out for their own best interest first. Also, your boss is no different than you in that he or she, too, can one day lose their job, in which case, your job security may become threatened.
When you’re in a pattern of seeking approval in a relationship (even from your boss), you relinquish your power and your sense of self. To avoid this dynamic, realize that although you are driven to work hard and do a great job, you must also be clear about your expectations and take responsibility for your success. When the time is right, it’s on you to tell your boss what you want. If the answer isn’t what you want to hear, it’s time to start planning your next move. And if the answer is encouraging, don’t make the mistake of seeing your boss as your savior. It’s bad for both of you.
3. Your Dream Job
Many people, especially today in our ever-flourishing startup world, dream of jobs at cool companies like Apple and Google. But don’t make the mistake of falling in love with your company and turning that into your Prince Charming, because you can lose sight of your own value and your own needs in the blinding glare of such companies’ prestige.
As Nely Galán says in SELF MADE, “When you work for a company with a big recognizable name, it’s easy to get sucked in. Sure, it can teach you a lot, but it’s like marrying royalty: when things end, you get stripped of your title, and you go home a commoner.”
The workplace is changing, and it’s not safe to assume you’ll work at the same corporation forever. If you work a corporate job, it’s key to somehow tap into your entrepreneurial mindset on the side. This doesn’t mean you should cheat on your company; but do cultivate owning something for yourself. Try to see it this way: doing well at your job is excellent training for your future business.
4. Your Kids
Your kids are sacred to you. We get it. They should be. That said, as they get older, many parents expect them to stick around and take care of them, emotionally or physically, instead of living their own lives. This kind of burden blocks them to fully blossom, and you will eventually create so much guilt that their love becomes duty. This unhealthy dynamic can create a cycle of dysfunction for generations to come. The same is true when children become overly dependent on a parent, which doesn’t allow them to develop and create their own lives.
5. The Notion of “Someday”
How many times have you said “I’m starting my diet after the holidays” or “I’ll build my website when I have a little more free time” or any other procrastination-tinged excuse that keeps you from taking the action that, deep down, you know will change you. Prince Charming is elusive, and he can also show up as these false sense of grace periods that we give ourselves in order to hold off the key actions that move us forward.
Make it a mantra: we have to kill Prince Charming. We have to kill the fantasy because it keeps us small. There are no bailouts, excuses, or saviors. There is no rescue fantasy. There is only YOU. And you are enough!