“Sure, be right there!”, “I’ll make time!”, “What else do you need from me?”, “Of course I’ll be there!”, “I have nothing else going on!” , “Yes!”, “YES!!” – me.
I got my first job the summer I was 16. It was at a Cousins Subs in Greenfield, WI. I remember the new jeans I bought that would be ruined by grease, food, and mop water within a few months. I remember how much I would have rather been laying out in the sun. I remember how shy I was then, how it would take me a while to look someone in the eye.
One of the things I remember about being 16 was how much I wanted to PLEASE everyone, at work and otherwise. Not even in the sense of the work I was doing, but I wanted my co-workers to be impressed by the person I was. It was such a huge deal to me, in fact, that I would soak in everything they were saying and doing, so that I could reference it later, if a situation arose where I needed to be “cool”.
I reference my first job because it was around this time that I pretty much stopped thinking of myself and what I wanted and mostly considered what other people were thinking. And I NEVER said no to anyone that I wanted to impress. I was anything they wanted me to be, at least I tried. What an easily swayed age. You would think that even by being the “yes-man” so to speak, I would be happy by being involved, by going with the flow, by never telling anyone no. But I wasn’t. And I carried this attitude with me into adulthood. It was only a year ago that I realized how impossible it was for me to turn anyone down for any reason, and how badly I beat myself up whenever I had to. I also realized however, what little time I had for myself, and how unhappy I was that I rarely even considered myself before anyone else. I had my selfish moments, sure, but I don’t remember making many choices without first considering how it would affect everyone else.
When I look back at my slightly-awkward transition to adulthood, I cringe knowing that many of the things I did- the mistakes I made, things I tried, people I hurt, situations I found myself in… a vast majority of them were done because I had been asked to. And I had agreed.
Some very good friends of mine helped me realize that by always being there for everyone else, I was neglecting myself and robbing myself of happiness. Happiness that comes by saying, “Not this time, I would rather stay home tonight.” or “Maybe next time”. Happiness that comes with seriously contemplating what I need to be in harmony- body and soul. Happiness that comes with a quiet evening, when my little one is warm in his bed, and I am taking time for myself.
What a liberating feeling, knowing the only person that I ever have to say “yes” to is myself.