This, my friends, is no easy task. Not at all. I’ve always been a people-pleaser. I want desperately to make everyone happy with me, proud of me, long to hang around me. I want everyone to see me as fun, interesting, reliable. But everyone has different expectations and desires, which means I have to be many things to many people if I’m to make everyone happy. And those anticipated traits may be very different from one person to the next. There are times when I lose myself in what others want from me.
Even so, whenever I don’t meet those expectations for someone, I tend to have a mild panic attack. I break out in a sweat at the first sign of displeasure. I find it hard to breath. My hands start shaking. I get hives. (This is the reason I was never able to get away with lying while a teenager.) It’s no pleasant sight.
Earlier this year, God set me on a journey. It started with Him ripping (and there is no good way to indicate the severity of the tearing) people out of my life that were taking the largest tole on me. People I had grown accustomed to in my life — depended on (actually, far too much) and was convinced I needed to survive. But I soon learned otherwise. And though the journey has been heartbreaking, I’ve learned so many things from it.
And I think the most important lesson is becoming happy with who I am. Realizing that if someone can’t see my heart and my true intentions, then it is not me that needs to accommodate her (her for the sake of a sentence, not at anyone in particular), but that she has blinders up because of other struggles in her own life. And that I don’t have to fix that, or change myself in order to be seen the way I want to be seen.
This also means telling folks no — and feeling confident in that decision — for what seems like the first time in my life. People ask things of me and I don’t want to let them down, but sometimes I have to for the sake of my own well-being (and that of my family). In both my work and my personal life.
And, man, it’s been hard to do in my work. Because working means contributing to my family (my husband and I are on a journey to get out of debt and we desperately want it to be sooner rather than later), but it also means providing something of value to others. And I want to be valued. That’s why it was so hard for me to temporarily close one of my businesses (where I made little animal lovies for babies). Not only do I enjoy doing it, and seeing these little ones so attached to their special little friends, but so many of my customers bought the lovies as gifts for others and, by closing, I took that option away. But it was stressing me out on top of all of my other tasks. I had to let it go for awhile.
I’ve let a lot go. And it feels good. I’ve let people down because I’m not doing things exactly the way they want me to. While that’s hard for me to swallow (is my throat swelling up at just the thought of it?), it’s a good thing. It means that I’m setting boundaries (there’s that word again) in my life. I’m taking back the reigns that I’ve willingly handed to every person I encounter so that I can keep this carriage on the path it’s meant to travel. No back roads, no short cuts, no rocky terrains that suddenly find me on a precipice and a barely avoided plunge into the abyss (too dramatic?).
This is my show. Sure, I’ll make mistakes — Lord… I will make mistakes!! But I’ll make them for me. You know? Not for anyone else. Not because that’s the journey someone else wants me to take. But because that’s the journey I chose and learned from on my own. There is so much freedom in that. By setting boundaries with others, the boundaries for my journey are limitless. So, if you want to hang out in the passenger seat (no back seat driving here anymore, folks!), you’re certainly welcome to watch it all unfold. And, if not, well… you’re loss. Because I’m a pretty cool cat, if I do say so myself.