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Self-relection

“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.”
― Bill Cosby

As I prepare to walk across the graduation stage today, I realize that I have now completed a portion of my life’s goals. I have successfully transitioned into adulthood. I understand that my achievement did not come without the support of my family, friends, and professors but I also understand that if I had tried to please everyone along the way I would not be here today. The desire to please always comes at a cost, and one person always pays it. You! Since failure disproportionately impacts you, would it not be better to go about striving to please yourself (in a socially conscious way, of course) and then have the added bonus of pleasing others when you start achieving success? Think about it.

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“we accept the love we think we deserve.”
― Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

For the longest time I believed I was worthless. I would allow others to badmouth, disrespect, and take advantage of me; letting them dictate how I felt about myself.

By nature, I am an amenable person; I don’t like conflict and prefer being on good terms with those around me. I guess I am the textbook definition of a people pleaser. Before, I had this distorted notion that the best way to interact with others was to give. If I had the time or resources and there was someone in need, I would give it without a second thought. The idea of being a giver was something that I was raised with, so it never really clicked that others weren’t raised with the same ideal.

One thing about being nice is that people view it as a weakness. Amiability, to them, is an inherent character flaw meant for exploitation. So I was used beautifully.

Sometimes sly comments would be made about my appearance that belittled me, but because I preferred to avoid confrontation, I would laugh it off and pretend that the jab hadn’t stung. My time and resources would be exploited, because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by saying no. Under the guise of friendship, wolves would approach and tell me about certain character flaws that I should consider working on; and like an idiot, I would internalize the remarks and blame the flaws for my crappy relationships.

Then one day I just decided that I wouldn’t take it anymore. Saying no didn’t make me evil, and being assertive didn’t equal bitch. If you asked me for too much I was happy to say the sacred two-letter word. N-O! And I would do so with relish because it empowered me. If an individual made a comment that I felt belittled me I would pull them aside and let them know how it made me feel. If someone came to me with a character flaw that she wanted to “help” me with, I would listen with one ear and keep it if it was actually true. I was on a roll and it felt good.

I realize now that I was receiving crap because I felt I deserved crap, but once I realized that I needed respect, I sure as hell demanded it. Shoot! Now that I have tasted heaven, I am no longer returning to the hell that was my personal relationships.

Were there ever moments where you accepted disrespect?

It’s a strange feeling

The feeling of being among friends

Yet at the same time sensing a strange disconnect

You hear the conversation going on around you

You add a comment here and there

But despite all these things, you feel miles away

It’s truly a strange feeling when sitting among friends conversing

You take a mental step away and evaluate the connections you’ve made

With some, it’s tightly pulled, strumming from the tension of closeness and mutual understanding

The feeling that manifests itself as a click

A turning on of a switch that allows you to automatically, immediately connect

There are no awkward silences among you

Just the gradual dying away of a conversation

With others, there is a connection

A loose string that sags completely

It’s a connection that has been made

Forged with effort and care

Yet, in spite of this the ones connected know the least about you

The click isn’t there

It doesn’t exist

All the interactions occurring between you feel clumsy

Like fumbling in a newly darkened room

It feels dark, uncomfortable

It holds the awareness that at the slightest aggravation they will turn

It’s truly a strange feeling

When sitting with others

You innately know who is truly a friend

And who is a snake waiting to strike

I found out yesterday that a former love interest is dating an acquaintance. For some odd reason, when I learned this instead of being happy for them, I felt upset; like someone decided to grab my heart mid-thump and squeeze while pulling my gut down to my feet and pouring acid into it.

I just didn’t feel right. I was upset, but not upset upset- if you can understand what I am trying to say. I was upset that I wasn’t in a relationship. That I wasn’t sharing the good news. That I didn’t have arm candy for the summer.

Thinking about it now, a day later, I realize how selfish I was (am) being. I am not hurt that he moved on, but that I can’t have him on the back burner anymore; that I no longer have the satisfaction of knowing that “Yes he wants me but I don’t want him.” I am upset that I am not the center of his attention. And while it’s sad to vocalize this (or type it), I am happy that I understand exactly what I am feeling. It’s really just sad that I am green for all the wrong reasons.

Has this ever happened to you? Did you realize exactly what it was that you were feeling?