When you grow up looking for hints of acknowledgement you get really good at reading people. Reading the room, feeling what’s going on. The slightest twitch and you know — you fucked up.
Your stomach plummets, your breath grinds to a screeching halt and the all too familiar searing blanket of shame encloses and smothers you. Tears well up, stinging and pressing hard against the back of your eyelids but don’t you dare lift those lashes, the only thing worse than fucking things up is being a fuck-up who cries about it.
Bosses, boyfriends, girlfriends, friends, the unrelenting pattern from hell.
It’s shit because you try. You care. In fact, you’re the best at what other people want and need you to be. But no matter how often you hit the bullseye, produce 110% or exceed expectations, it’s never good enough. How can you possibly give any more?
Experiences pile up. Lost friendships, broken relationships, careers that never took off. Eventually, you start to see the common thread. It’s you. You’re the fuck up. You’re doing something wrong. You’re the god damn thread.
So, you try again and again and again. Each time resolving to high hell that this time will be better. This time you’ll show them all.
Aaaaannd it falls to shit.
Nothing feels worse than trying your best only to end up not at the bottom of the barrel but outside it. Wandering around aimlessly wondering what the fuck is wrong with you.
“Just be yourself,” they say.
Have they not seen your entire history of failure? That was your best self. It. Didn’t. Work.
But it wasn’t.
I’m here to call bullshit.
Maybe you identify with being a people pleaser. Maybe, you feel proud that you put yourself out to get the job done but nobody else gives a shit. And if people not giving a fiddlers fuck annoys you, well then, you’re not being yourself.
Being yourself warrants no acknowledgement. Other peoples opinions are irrelevant because you’re happy.
You put you first.
Boundaries, requests and suggestions are all part and parcel.
Where do you want to go for dinner? I don’t mind.
What would you like to do this evening? I don’t mind.
Will we stay home or go out? I don’t mind.
Will you stop doing what you’re doing and do what I want instead? Sure, I don’t mind.
I don’t mind.
I don’t mind.
I don’t mind.
You do fucking mind. What you want matters!
Putting other peoples needs above our own moves us out of alignment with ourselves.
It’s not until you ax the bumble date with the guy who cares way too much about planktons effects on the solar system or remind your manager, in the politest fashion, that yes, your day off is more important than the fact that they didn’t hire more staff, that you start to feel more like yourself.
Start doing things for you.
Be, act, do what benefits you and you’re actively being yourself.
You have nothing to prove to anyone other than yourself and it’s a lack of believing this fact that lands us in trouble in the first place.
When you put someone else’s worth above your own they do the exact same thing. Why wouldn’t they? Your actions not only give them express permission but a step by step slideshow on how to do it.
It’s not until you’ve had enough until you say “no” that the problems start showing up. They’re pissed that they’re not more important than you.
They’re pissed that you want to be the lead actor in our own movie.
So be yourself. Trust your gut. Say no to the things you don’t want and yes to the things that light you up. Take annual leave. Foster a dog. Stay away from people who don’t get you.
Do shit your own way. The irony in all of it is — when you stop people-pleasing and start looking after yourself the people in your life start to do the same.