I am a people pleaser by nature.
Being an enneagram type two with a three-wing my personality itself carries a lot of acceptance-seeking qualities. I always want to understand and attend to the needs of others, this often coming with the price of repressing my own feelings and emotions in a situation. I tend to be harder on myself than I am on those around me and typically avoid conflict rather than deal with it head-on. This of course has transferred into all areas of my life both personally and professionally. I think part of being a people pleaser is that a lot of the time it can internally feel like you are “faking it”. It is easy to take something that bothers you and gloss over it. It is easy to forgive bad behavior for the sake of avoiding conflict. It is easy to accept less than treatment than cut off a toxic relationship sometimes. It can be easier for a people pleaser to fake happiness than express displeasure.
As I inch closer to 40, I am finding it harder & harder to fake it.
A Million Little Things
I have always had a face that says everything I am thinking before I say it, so in that area, it can be hard sometimes to mask the way I am feeling. However most of my life I have done a rather good job and crawfished my way out of having to express my true feelings on something that I may not like or agree with. I even have a signature face, known by my friends as “my awkward face” because they see it so often. I am the person that won’t send food back because I don’t want to cause a fuss. I have drank drinks that I didn’t order instead of telling them it’s wrong. I have accepted custom-made items that weren’t right so I didn’t have to hurt someone’s feelings. Those things are slowly starting to change for me as I realize it is okay to speak up, even on the little things. Being quiet on so many small items tends to build into a bigger seed of resentment than we realize. I am learning to be firmer in my displeasure or when things aren’t correct and it feels great to finally speak up more often.
I feel like the past two years have really given me perspective on the people that are meant to be in our lives. Family is an area where I think most of us give a pass to those around us. I have always put a lot of pressure on myself to hold family relationships together, whether or not that same energy is being reciprocated. I have come to realize, which I believe has also come with age, that not all relationships are meant to be alike. I am learning to set boundaries and expectations according to the person I am dealing with. If that feels like a relationship that no longer adds any positivity to my life, then holding on is only hurting myself. Why fight for people to love you when there are plenty around that already do? The same goes for the people in my kids’ lives. I am done begging anyone to be involved with them, or see them, or feel sad when a holiday is missed. In the same breath, I will also never force them to visit or be close to people that do not reciprocate. Teaching them their worth will always be a top priority.
‘Ships in The Night
I absolutely love to meet new people and tend to form instant bonds when I meet someone. I consider myself easy to relate to and have had many different groups of friends throughout my lifetime. Moving across the country twice between elementary and high school, you learn how to connect with others around you. What you don’t necessarily learn is how to let go of friendships as they all seem so valuable. But what about the people no longer adding value? The friends that only call when there is something wrong. The friends that don’t show up on the most important of days. The friends who aren’t particularly nice to us. I have stopped giving excuses for bad behavior. I have stopped accepting the line “Well, that’s just how Sally is.” as justification for someone acting like a jerk or being absent. I have gotten to a point in life where that is no longer acceptable. Some friendships run their course and I have learned to let that be okay.
Working It Out
Looking back on my professional career now, there are so many moments I have reflected on that I would go back and change. For years I stayed in positions hoping that they would get better. For years I was definitely a “yes man” which in the corporate world is great, but at what cost to ourselves? It had become so easy to shelve my own happiness for ridiculous quotas and assignments. It became the norm to put work in front of my family, crying on my way home in the evenings. I actually had a male CEO tell me he passed me up for a promotion “because all I care about is my kid” – I quit that moment. As women, in particular, we have a certain standard to live up to when juggling a career and home life. If you aren’t giving 100% to both you are considered failing. The pressure is intense and it’s easy to feel like you are constantly struggling in one area or the other. I still struggle in this aspect but am thankful to have found something I love that allows me the flexibility I need. I am able to openly communicate and the company I work for truly values family & its employees.
No Longer Faking it Till I Make It
For most of my life, I have found myself caring what people think, never wanting to rock the boat. With some self-discovery and reflection, I am learning it’s okay to not always be liked, accepted, or understood. I’ve realized it’s good to set boundaries with the people around you. It’s fine to not bend over backward for those that wouldn’t do the same. And it’s surely not the end of the world to send back an overcooked filet.
Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes. ~ Maggie Kuhn