Saturday, August 13, 2011

Chronic People-Pleaser

True story.  A few years ago I went to Six Flags in Dallas with Dave and my dad, just the three of us.  It was a cloudy May day and the perfect temperature for strolling around the amusement park.  As we were waiting in line for our first ride--The Texas Giant--the lightning flashed and the thunder struck.  Cue the rain delay.  We waited...and waited.  Eventually it became clear to us that the day was going to be a wash (literally) and we should probably rethink spending the day outside.  Now on the way out of the park there were several clearly visible signs that read "Absolutely No Ticket Refunds".  My dad was sure it would be no problem to have our tickets refunded since it was still early morning, we hadn't even been on a single ride and it looked like it would rain for the remainder of the day.  I pointed to the sign.  No refunds.  What didn't he understand about that?  My dad casually began to walk to to the ticket booth to claim our refund, and I headed briskly in the opposite direction.  I neither wanted to see nor hear the confrontation, if you could even call it that.  I was so nervous that the ticket booth lady (who, let's face it, was probably a teenager who could not care less) would somehow be angry/upset/displeased.  In less than a minute my dad was back by my side, refund in hand, looking at me like I was crazy.  Had I really been so afraid that a Six Flags employee would be mad at me?  Yes.  Yes I was.

My need to please everyone is so all-consuming that it really is a small miracle that I can get anything done in life.  If I tallied up the time I spent trying to please other people, I'd probably be really disappointed.  Why am I like this?  I'm sure it's a mixture of DNA and life experiences, but it's getting old.  I'm wasting time.  Now that I have a child, I see that it's really a terrible way to be.  Do I want my son to tip-toe through life, afraid of disturbing the peace, living like the whole world's happiness and contentment rests on his shoulders?  No.  So, what kind of example am I setting?

Going forward, I'm making a promise to myself to work on this glaring character flaw.  I absolutely cannot please everybody all of the time.  I cannot even please everybody some of the time.  I can try to make myself happy, and in doing so I will likely end up making those around me happy.  It makes me sick to my stomach to fathom a life of constantly apologizing for having an opinion, a want, a thought that is independently mine.  To go along with my whole "be braver and bolder" campaign, I will make an effort to stop being such a doormat.  I will no longer apologize to waiters who get my order wrong (Yes, I have done that more than once.).  I will no longer go along with things I don't want to do, simply because I am afraid someone will be upset with me.  (It's ok to say no sometimes.)  I will no longer put the world's happiness before my own.  I will, however, go out and pursue the life that I know is big and bold and beautiful.  It's perfectly okay to use "because it makes me happy" as a justification for anything.  I'm a work in progress, and so I know it's not easy to change what has become 30 years of people-pleasing habit, but I can try.  I really think you can teach an old dog new tricks.


Today is Saturday, and I survived my first week back at work since having Ben.  It was not an easy week, for several reasons, but I made it through.  Monday will come all too quickly, I know, but I'm trying to keep my chin up.  There are some exciting things in store, and I will try to keep that in mind when my desk phone rings incessantly.  For now though, there is a super snuggly baby who deserves to have two days with the momma who loves him so much.  And, that definitely makes me happy.

Remember:  A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  --Lao-Tzu

No comments:

Post a Comment