Disclaimer: This post was a little awkward for me to write, and I’m nervous for you to read it.
You see, I’m a people pleaser. I’m always concerned about making other people happy. I’m alway worrying about doing the right thing. I’m always comparing myself to others, making sure expectations are met. I’m always worried that if I say no to someone, I’ll be a disappointment. I do whatever I can do to avoid conflict and to make sure everyone around me is happy.
I’ve stayed in failed relationships way too long. I’ve taken on extra responsibilities at work even though my plate was already too full. I’ve made social commitments when I was emotionally drained. Saying “yes” has become a habit. I’m looked at as the nice one, the sweet one, the one who will do anything for us. But, where do I fit into this picture? It usually ends up with me being unheard and taken advantage of. Often, people never even know my needs, because I never make them matter enough to be heard or valued.
I was scared to write this, because I don’t want to be conceived as whiny or negative. I was always like this. I remember writing a diary as a young girl (one of those really cool ones with a lock and a key!) and thinking “oh, I shouldn’t write that, what would my mom think when she reads this if I die?” That seems very morbid and narcissistic for a young girl doesn’t? In my early twenties, I’d get so stressed that I made myself sick and or wouldn’t eat. My high stress job and relationship were ruining me. Even after a gall bladder surgery, I was still suffering from chronic heartburn, stomach pains, and anxiety. It’s gotten better over the years, but I still have my sick moments a couple of times a month.
Lately, I’ve been trying to break this habit – to recover from my people pleasing ways. What caused me to start writing this rambling blog post? In addition to my position at a consulting company, I’m a freelancer for non-profits. I honestly love working for non-profits because I like to do work that is bringing change, which means something. However, the money is never there. Last week, I received a call that my biggest client can no longer afford to pay my salary. I was crushed. I had invested a lot into this organization – not just my time and work, but emotionally. Yes, I was getting paid, but I also did a lot of work for free. Whenever anything was asked of me I’d say yes. Even if it stressed me out to the point that I had chronic heartburn and stomach pains and I’d be up past 1 am working, I did it because I cared and because I was “such a nice person”.
I didn’t want to let this company down. I wanted to impress them too. And now, they wanted me to continue “helping” them, but strictly volunteer. I’d lost about 30% of my net income. It was a big loss. Ryan’s in law school – money is tight. I would need to find another source of income. And yet, I considered saying I’d do the work for free. Or, I’d be on call if they’d need me in a bind.
I knew how this would turn out; I’d basically be doing all the same work but getting no income. When I mentioned this, I was reminded that everyone else in the organization was not getting paid. That they simply cared about the cause. That hurt so much. I would love to have the luxury to volunteer my time for organizations I care about. I want my work to mean something. But right now, my time is my money. And I feel like they know that. They’re all in a different, ahem, tax bracket than myself. But I know when I’m being swindled. They know I always say yes and they’re taking advantage. It hurts and I’m going to put my foot down. For the first time, I need to put myself first. (Even simply writing that sentence makes me feel SO selfish.)
I am enough. There, I said it. My thoughts, my values, my life choices are enough. I’m not going to bend myself to please others than those that please me in return. I am enough. I need to focus on what makes me happy. This blog has been wonderful; it’s been a great tool for me to re-connect with who I am. It’s been a way for me to break free of the professional persona I’ve had to put on and show my true self.
I’m going to listen to my heart and my bones and do what is healthy for myself. I’ve started this week with my desire to de-clutter my home and simplify my life. I’ve been going to bed earlier, reading more each night, and staying off my phone. I’ve noticed changes. In the past I have worried that my other job is not “enough”. I compare myself to others with fast moving careers and think I am a disappointment to myself. Fact is, I love the consulting company I work for. Like any other job, it has its up and downs, but I’m fascinated by the creative work that we do and the people we meet. It’s low stress and healthy for me. It is enough. I love that I’m not so stressed out at the end of the day that I have zero energy left for any other projects (like some other work mentioned above). I have energy to do the things I love, work out, read, write, support Ryan and make our home a nice place – these are all things that make me happy. I am choosing to love my life. I am enough.