From an early age, I learned the power of staying quiet and not rocking the boat. I HATED when people showed an ounce of anger or disappointment toward me because I always felt like it was personal. As if I actively did something wrong to garner such a response. This, in turn, made my words and feelings secondary to keeping everyone else happy. It was a toxic cycle that shaped my life to the point where I woke up one morning and had no who I was anymore.
My soul was torn into a patchwork of everyone’ else likes, dislikes, dreams and hopes for the future. If you asked me what I desired, I would have laughed uncomfortably and said, “A slice of chocolate cake.” Humor, a deflection method rusted with age at this point.
Truth be told, it was easier than admitting I had no freaking clue. I hadn’t thought about my desires, or what I wanted in so long. My body was on auto-pilot. Wake up, brush my teeth, work, make dinner before my then boyfriend got home, listen to NPR, watch a T.V show and sleep. A comfortable existence with a deep-seated unhappiness. I did this for six years because the alternative of going out into the big scary world and living a life I didn’t have a clear picture of made me want to puke.
Who was I to ask for more? Why wasn’t this ENOUGH? Why couldn’t I just be happy? Whenever I asked those questions, a whisper from the innermost part of myself would answer – because you are you. Nobody else.
Of course, I ignored that whisper until it became a scream. No longer could I sit there, day in and day out, living a life made for somebody else. I had to escape, which might sound dramatic but that’s what it felt like. Blowing everything up to start anew was terrifying yet as soon as I did it, I sense of peace washed over me.
I remember standing in my kitchen, which was also my bedroom and looking around with a small smile playing on my lips. This was it. This was what I was searching for. A place to call mine. It wasn’t much but to me, it was a castle.
The months following were entwined with a sense of deep grieving along with the euphoria of falling in love with who I was again. I did whatever I wanted when whenever I wanted. The freedom was intoxicating. There wasn’t a particular moment where I realized I didn’t give a shit anymore about outside perception. It happened gradually and it’s still happening.
You cannot turn off the people pleaser switch permanently. Sometimes it will still flicker. The difference is whether you let it go to full capacity. I do my best to not let it get to that point.
I can now say confidently I desire a life rich in love, good food and plenty of laughs. I want to explore the different sunsets around the world and not settle for anything less than what I deserve. I love tea, hate coffee, and there is nothing better than a hot shower after a blistering walk in the snow.
Next week on the blog, I’ll go into more depth about how to break the people pleasing cycle and start living a life on your own terms. Until then, remember – You are you. Nobody else.