Being a people pleaser is a different form of enslavement. There may not be a string attached, a physical push or a flogging as a result of the opposite reaction, but there is a certain unexplainable feeling that comes with never objecting to anything.
I feel it in my gut when I turn my head the other way or spit out a yes due to my spontaneous reflex. It hurts. It physically hurts.
I’m a people pleaser and it’s my worst habit. It’s the kind I am certain will be detrimental to my health, it is the kind they all warn about and come up with remedies and solutions for, it’s the kind I try to kick but I just keep falling into. It’s the worst kind of bad habit; you see a bright side still, although you know you shouldn’t.
It’s quite hard for me to go back and trace the exact moment I began saying yes to almost everything and everyone.
I smile a lot. By a lot, I mean, a freaking lot, and that’s the thing people compliment me the most on; my big bright smile that made their day. I love that, as I feel like we live in a society that has become so used to the ‘resting bitch face’ everyone seems to have mastered. Heck, even I have mastered it to for certain situations especially now that I live in the big city.
In high school, everyone knew me as the girl who really couldn’t keep a straight face to save her life. It was a known fact that when Rachy started to laugh, there was no undoing it and only a miracle or a slap on the back of her head could stop her. There was that one time my friend and I were asked to kindly ‘take a walk’ in the corridors. That was my professor’s polite-frustrated way of stating that we were being a freaking pain in her class. It was a cute phase in my memory, but it was also a painful quality when I really just had to be serious for a moment.
Maybe it began then; when I was completely child-like and naïve. Then I had no worry in the world and doing things for others made me feel good. I felt useful, productive; like I could be counted on. I wouldn’t hesitate to lend that same girl €1 almost every day, even though I knew for certain she wasn’t struggling financially. It was the one time I was certain she ‘needed’ me and this way I was being ‘kind’. Kind or foolish? Maybe, kind of foolish.
I never complained back then probably because I genuinely wasn’t upset at all, due to my gullible nature, but also because I usually had what she needed and was honestly happy to help. Truth is, I probably wouldn’t have regardless.
The €1 attitude still creeps up now, so many years later. I nod, smile and then let my real feelings beam only when I’m on my own.
Yes to that. Yes to this. Yes to that. Yes again. It’s only three letters, but it’s three letters that can bring up feelings that could fill up four pages of confessions.
The moment that really woke me up to realise what I’d been doing to myself (although I was already very aware), happened a couple of weeks ago when a friend of mine told me something I would have rather not known. My €1 persona immediately came to life like it was there all along. I began my pretence routine quite instantly. I acted like I already knew, and I smiled very widely I think it was way too much it was impossible to hide how fake it was. It was obvious, and he could tell because he asked if I was okay and I nodded. It was when he asked if I was sure that I said it: “Yes”. There, I said it… I said it again. Safe to say, that was a lie.
I exhausted all the strength in my body just to say that out loud, just to tell that lie.
If I were watching me in a movie in a lot of the situations I find myself, I would totally hate that girl. The type of girl that while she doesn’t necessarily let people step on her, she does it in their place with the excuse that it might hurt a little less.
I would scream at the screen hoping that that will change something. I would sit there, annoyed, hoping the next scene will be the one where she musters up the courage and lets her alter ego out to play. I would hope for the post-makeover scene when all of a sudden the lead character finds her own voice and finally transforms from a caterpillar into a butterfly.
“Why can’t you just say what you’re thinking?” “Why can’t you give your voice to your innermost feelings?” “Why hide?”
I guess this is the reason I always fall head over heels for the outspoken bossy female characters who really don’t take crap from anyone. I guess it’s probably because they have the guts to do and say the things that I often don’t in the name of being nice.
Does being nice have to hurt? Does it have to make you feel hopeless and used? Does it have to have the power to take away your smile in the long run?
I’ve come to the conclusion that the answer is NO. Absolutely not! Why exchange kindness for weakness? Why give your power up just to please someone who would not do the same for you? That’s not being kind, that’s being used. The only difference is you are the one using you for someone else’s gain.
In no way I’m I saying I’ll be saying no to everything, but I’ll definitely change my default answer from YES to PAUSE. As much as it might hurt and as much as I might bleed, I’ll bite my tongue really hard and consider the odds at stake before acting like my usual self. Is it something I really want? What will happen to me after I walk away from the situation, will I still smile in the same way?
I already started to practice it by following the tune of my real emotions and allowing myself to accept that I don’t always want to nod, smile, agree and accept. Sometimes I want to say no instantly and disagree and argue and that’s absolutely fine too. Saying NO has felt good or may I say better.
The first time I made an effort to say NO instead of yes actually took more out of me than I thought it would. The yes was right there at the edge of my lips, all I had to do was say it, but I didn’t. I didn’t, and I felt oddly proud of myself.
It’s not about becoming mean or difficult. It’s about holding people accountable for their expectations of you and it is also about holding yourself accountable for your actions and how they will affect you sooner or later.
I’m done being my literal own enemy, I’m done being a €1 person. Are you?
Your restless romantic roamer