Friday, April 13

professional people pleaser

My psych asked me this question:
What would say if young guy came up to you in the supermarket, said you were gorgeous, and asked you to expose yourself?
I replied: I’d say NO WAY!
I wouldn’t share that with anyone but my husband. That’s a pearl, that’s mine and I know it. So is the money in my wallet, the writings in my diary, my deepest thoughts...some things are too precious to give away lightly. I am not obliged to give away parts of me to people. I’m not obliged to say ‘yes’.
When people ask me, “What do you do?”, I feel yucky inside. That is the most basic of questions, the famous conversation starter, and the bread and butter of first meetings. It’s meant to be an impersonal kind of way to break the ice. And they’re looking for a simple answer: I work, I study, or I mum.
I don’t have a simple answer. In a world where life is measured by what we ‘do’, the fact that I neither study, nor work, nor have babies sounds like a cop out. So, I then feel I should explain about my illness – the journey of the last 3 years of pain and learning is so personal and deep that I can never do it justice in a short conversation, and I don’t want to share it with just anyone. For me, that question is personal, really personal. And the full answer is a pearl.
I figured out yesterday something I never knew:
I don’t have to give away intimate details of my life. There’s a space between me and other people: My thoughts are mine, theirs are theirs. They have no claim on mine, and I have no claim on theirs.

 I don’t have to share just because I’ve been asked ‘what I do’. I’m used to working my butt off in an assignment even if I am unwell, cleaning the house when I have a headache, catching up with friends for longer than I can cope with, and telling people the ‘pearls’ of my life when I don’t want to. I tend to cave in to pleasing people. I’m a coward as I let people drag information from me, and don’t tell people when I need them to leave. I will do more than I can handle to supposedly keep someone else happy or not offended. I hate to think they might think badly of me, that they will judge me or dislike me.
So in the process of ‘pleasing’ them, I run myself down, leaving little energy for other things. I spend energy where I shouldn’t and that’s not right, by me, or by others.  Never mind what people think –  I can leave them to their thoughts. I will act the best way I can, and manage my energy as wisely as I am able.
When strangers ask me what I do, I’ll say,
“That’s a very long story. How about you?”
“ I do the best I can in life. What about you?”
If you have an idea of what else I could say, please do comment.
And if I need to end a conversation or a catch up after half an hour– I will end it then, regardless of how awkward I might feel doing it at first, or how they may perceive it. I’m a terrible conversation-ender, so this is going to be a challenge.
I’ve been living to please others for too long. I thought I had to give if asked, and give till I drop. I’m learning about the space between me and other people. And that space is a healthy thing, it means that I can be me regardless of what they do or think.
I’ll do the best I can!

1 comment:

  1. Dee could you say "I'm dealing with a chronic illness" and leave it at that, or does that just lead to more questions. You could even say "I'm dealing full time...." Just so people know its big. Maybe thats more than you want to give away. Putting the focus back on them is a good idea as many people are so happy to talk about themselves.