R&B. Those were the initials that summed up the entirety of my #RelationshipGoals since I was first introduced to Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Beth Pearson (Susan Kelechi Watson) some years ago. A black man who madly loves his black woman and their little black girls — I’ll take that and all the corny feels that come with it Alex. Randall was the hardworking, well doing, just emotional and lovey dovey enough to still be cute but not annoying black husband, and Beth was the seemingly unwavering, ‘round the way mom good for a cornrow, box braid and an impeccably timed passive aggressive clap back in just about any situation. It was the classically delightful sip of Kool-Aid with equally yoked sugar and water, and the perfect blend of R&B for just about any love song.
But like love tends to do, things change and may never be the same following this past This is Us episode. *major spoiler alerts ahead*
In this episode, and episodes leading up to this, we saw cracks in Pearsonville as Beth rediscovered her love for ballet, therefore rediscovering her love and need for a self-identity independent from her husband and children. Great, right? Well not exactly, considering the timing of Beth’s self-awakening aligned dangerously close to Randall’s recent election as a City Councilmember, and with both working full-time, fulfilling jobs, who’s cooking dinner, parenting the children and keeping things tight at home? You see, the reason the idea of Randall and Beth Pearson worked so well was because they balanced one another, meaning it was typically Beth who tipped her scale to even things out. Dad worked, mom stayed home with the kids. Dad had an anxiety attack, mom managed the household and husband. Dad finds a random troubled youth or estranged father, Mom adjusts the household to accommodate one more. But this time was different. This time, both found themselves right where they wanted to be with little intent or room to compromise that satisfaction for the greater good.
Yes, this is the classic marriage dichotomy of who’s compromising to who, but it also speaks to something larger; how much can one person bend to be bridge for someone else’s happiness? Don’t get me wrong, bridges are great. They connect us. They unite us. They close the gap to many of problems. But the problem with being a bridge is there is always someone walking over or under you, and that can get tiring after a while. Case in point, Beth Pearson, who true to her and Randall’s initials, was the perfect hook to an R&B song (special s/o to “Foolish” by Ashanti for perfectly summarizing this situation).
“When I get the strength to leave you, always tell me that you need me. And I’m weak ‘cuz I believe you, and I’m mad because I love you. So I stop and think that maybe, you could learn to appreciate me. Then it all remains the same that, you ain’t never going to change.”
Beth loves her husband, God knows she do. But at some point she reached her bending limit. By no ill intention of his own, for the bulk of their relationship Randall had been walking, running and tap dancing over Beth’s bridge, which was fine until it wasn’t.
How many of us have sacrificed our own happiness, desires and wants to bend for the greater good of someone else’s happiness? *raises hand* Is the good really that great when it’s at our own expense? *shakes head no* Your life matters. No really, your life, your dreams, your aspirations, your goals matter. It’s fine and dandy to compromise those things every now and then when the good really is greater, but before you bend, stop and think; who’s bending for you. Who’s going out of their way to alley oop the ball for your happiness? If the list is short, it’s likely time to stand a little taller and scoot your needs to the front of the line. Yes, it’s easier said than done when you throw family, friends, relationships and real-life problems into the mix, but it’s a necessary step for those of us who value our peace of mind, particularly before we lose our minds. I’m a living witness.
In the words of Maya Angelou, you teach people how to treat you, and many of us are teaching from the book of “Pass Me Over” and “Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me, I’ll Be Fine.” From a distance, people pleasing may seem like the perfect response to a complex situation, particularly for those of us who cringe at any sort of confrontation *raises hand again*, but in reality, it’s one of the most painful self-inflicting wounds we could ever impart on ourselves. The thing with people pleasing and constantly bending to meet the needs of others is that, step-by-step we’re teaching others to put us last. We’re educating our families, friends, bae and potential baes to make our feelings and/or needs an after-thought. Make this your daily routine and I guarantee you’ll find yourself in a Beth Pearson situation or far worse.
So let’s all make a pact to be better Beths. If you want the last chicken wing, go for it. If you don’t like the final outcome of a hairstyle you just spent real money on, have your hair stylist change it. If you need a minute to yourself, take it and let your closest friends and loved ones know you’re not to be disturbed until further short. Life is too short to live it making up for regrets and lost time. Now put that in your R&B playlist and go be great.