Hi, I’m Katie, and I’m a Recovering People Pleaser

Katie, I am enough

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.

xoxo katie

  • Pat (mom)

    I’m glad you worked out your feelings about the non-profit, non-paying job. Your life is important and I’m very happy that you will have a little less stress. It’s always good to please people, but sometimes you do need to stop and think about yourself. ( Katie, I never read your diary.☺️)

    • Thanks for never reading my diary – Although they are probably all still in your basement 🙂

  • It sounds like you’ve really made a difference in your own life. Pleasing everyone else is a never-ending job and there’s really not a lot of joy in it. Yes, we should help others and such but we have to take care of ourselves too. Good for you on moving to accomplish just that!

    • Thank you! it’s a work in progress. We really do need to focus on what makes us happy.

  • Amy

    Ahhh Katie. . .your post brings tears to my eyes. I too struggle with some of the same issues. I think we all do to some degree. You ARE enough. I am ENOUGH too. . .Cancer taught me that. And if you haven’t already read it. . .please read any book by Brene Brown. She touched on many of these issues. Love you!!

    • Awe Amy, Thank you! I’m glad you can relate. At times I really think it’s a woman issue too – it’s hard to put yourself first. I’ll have to check Brene Brown out. I’m so glad that you are getting healthier! Love you!

  • Delmy

    I keep going back to SATC but these are words to live by…”I love you but I love me more.”

  • I’m glad that you are feeling more peace about this.
    You are important. And so is your time + talent.
    My husband is very much the same way – often being taken advantage of for his good heart. Its not a bad thing – but now you’ll know what to look out for. And how to make the right decisions for you. Thanks for sharing this, I plan on sharing it with the man.

    • Thank you so much. I hope it helps your husband. It really helped to simply write this post – to say those words out loud!

  • Great blog post Katie, you should be really proud of yourself for writing it all down!

  • Hi Katie! I love your honesty! I’ve got the same issue and I’m trying to work on it. A lot of times we bend over backwards trying to please others but I’ve learned that we also need to take care of ourselves and our health. My last job was pretty stressful and I always went above and beyond to make sure the clients were satisfied. This often came at the expense of my health. I worked long hours and offered to work weekends even though I had cancer and was extremely fatigued. If there’s one thing cancer taught me, it’s that life is brief and we need to do what makes us happy! I’m glad you’re finding the balance between living your life and helping others:)

    • Thank you, and thank you for sharing your story. I hope you continue to work in it and are on a path of recovery and good health- life is way too short, we have to own our lives! Xoxo

      • Thank you Katie:) We really do need to live our lives! I just got back from Bark For Life, a cancer fundraiser I helped plan. It was quite successful!

      • Awesome, congrats!

      • Thank you!

  • I felt like this at my last school. I became known as the person that would just do anything. At my new school I speak up when I don’t agree and I say no when it needs to be said. I feel like people here know more of the real me and I am so much happier because of that.

    • Awe, that’s good that you found your comfort zone! I’m glad you’re happy in your new job, makes all the difference.

  • Hi Katie, I posted photos from the event I was telling you about. Check it out!