If that's an easy word for you to say to another person, this article may not be a good fit for you, my dear.
This is for my girls who are the queens of sugar, spice, and everything nice. This article is for women who feel like they are scratching their nails across a chalkboard when they have to politely (with a smile and 10 apologies of course) decline an invitation or favor. Better yet, they don't decline, but instead do things they don't want to in order to avoid confrontation and being accused of not caring. She is so afraid of not being a good ______ (fill in the blank with "girlfriend," "friend," "sister," "daughter," "wife") that she suffers through her own unhappiness, just to see others smile.
If "she" is you, this read is for you, boo.
I could use this piece to talk about the users and abusers of the world. I could discuss the non-empathetic, self-centered pricks that manipulate you into doing whatever they please but never reciprocate. But, that conversation would be of no service to you.
So now, I'll ask you a question that puts you in a position of power:
Do you please other people because you expect them to validate you?
In case no one has told you, you were not put on this earth to be a doormat with a smiley face on it. Letting people walk all over you is not going to give you the love and acceptance you desire. All you will do is deplete yourself, and become a hot victimized bitter mess.
You do not have to hustle for your worth. You are worthy, valid, and whole.
Since I was very young, I have put my ability to anticipate, meet, and exceed my loved ones' expectations on a pedestal. My loving grandma, who did the same for our family, suffered from sickle cell anemia. When she was sick, I prided myself on being a great helper around the house. I lived for the spelling tests on Friday that I would ace and, in turn, be greeted by my proud father who would take me for ice cream afterwards.
In my teenage years, my grandmother had passed and I learned how to my use my friendly disposition, dutifulness, and agreeableness as a crutch. I used my desire to please others to gain friendships; picking up friends here, and dropping them there.
Meanwhile, my tank was on E.
Even romantically, I remember trying to compensate for my unwillingness to be sexual active by performing acts that were uncomfortable for me at the time.
By my senior year of high school, I lost all but one of my friends, learned that my dude was sleeping with other girls, and was now headed to a college. Expectations come with being the first person in your household to attend college, and the side effects included debilitating anxiety, crappy grades, few friends to connect with, and no steady love interest. I was suicidal.
Looking back, I now know that I did not understand my own worth.
On my journey to womanhood, I adopted the belief that I had to make myself useful in this world to be worthy.
My grandmother, who taught me how to love and have compassion for others, ran out of time before she could teach me how to love myself. For the past 10 years of my life, I had depended on the validation of others without truly taking an inventory of my own feelings, desires, and needs. I had become a people pleaser with poor boundaries, accepting crumbs, and feeling guilty for asking for the whole cake.
I have been in therapy to learn how to pick up my broken pieces. My mission is to put myself together by being brutally honest with myself.
Healing is not rainbows and butterflies; it is coming to the realization that you are an active participant in your own suffering.
I am growing, healing, and saying "no" without explanation. Even when it comes to myself.
I love to please others because I expect the love I give to be requited. That doesn't make me a terrible person, but it does mean that I've been manipulative to others with a personal agenda. No one is responsible for making me happy but myself.
I was dating out of desperation to be accepted and loved, but I hadn't provided those things to myself. I couldn't stand to be alone because then, I would have to deal with the brokenness of myself.
In the words of Iyanla Vanzant, "You simply cannot pay the debts that come along with the belief that you are unworthy. Unworthiness always puts you in debt to anyone and everyone who shows you the slightest degree of attention."
I have given myself the permission to feel my feelings. I have traded in my unauthentic niceness, and replaced it with kindness for to myself and others. I no longer set myself on fire to keep others warm. I have given myself permission to be just as nice to myself as I am to others.
'Cause I'm showing off. And that's alright, this is my life.
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Featured image by Etty Fidele on Unsplash