Ever been watching something on TV, like some random show or something, and felt like the episode was created just for you to watch it, receive the message and have that crazy “OMG! This is my liiiiiife!” moment? No? Oh.
Well anyway, I was recently watching a re-run of one of the greatest shows of all time, Girlfriends. The episode was about the lead character, Joan, deciding to go to therapy because her extremely self-absorbed best “frenemy” Toni was about one more petty pop-off away from driving Joan to complete and utter madness. In one of her sessions, the therapist tells Joan that one of her biggest issues is that she worries too much about what other people think and that she needs to learn how to say “No.”
Right after I heard this I looked up in the air and was like, “For real, God? You just gonna minister to me through the life of this emotionally unstable, fictional character on this cancelled sitcom? That’s real.”
Like Joan, I’ve spent most of my life being what many would consider a “people pleaser” — someone who constantly worries about what others think of them, and tries to do whatever they can to be — and remain — “liked.” Someone who’s easy to guilt trip. Someone who is constantly second-guessing themselves. Someone like me.
Been that way ever since I can remember. It was the main reason I grew up having so many self-esteem issues — I was afraid that if I’d say “no” to certain people, I would ultimately be letting them down or upsetting them, which would cause them to dislike me. Like Joan, I was way too focused and dependent on how other people felt about me, and I allowed that to affect how I felt about myself.
But life is slowly but surely getting me together. The older I get, the more and more I’m learning how to say “no,” despite how difficult it may be. Sometimes I just have to, even though I may not necessarily want to, because I now realize it’s literally impossible for me to do everything and please everyone.
I used to worry that being this way would make me look selfish, but it’s not being selfish at all. Selfishness is when you have no regard or compassion for anyone else but yourself. I had to learn that I can still care about the well-being of others and have sincere, honest intentions without feeling like I have to say “yes” all the time to prove my loyalty to them. I’m learning how to be confident in my own decisions without being swayed by the opinions or feelings of others. I’m learning that I can only do what I can do to the best of my ability and keep it moving.
I’m learning that focusing on pleasing all the “Toni Childs” in life will either send me to a psychiatrist, a crazy house, or my deathbed. And ain’t nobody got time for that — well, except Joan.