I spent a good portion of my life with the problem saying “NO.” I was a people pleaser, fearful of confrontation and conflict. I also think it is because most of my life experiences were “NO” from others and certain obstacles that stood in my way that I made it a point to turn all these “NOs” into my “YES”-es. In my 20’s and in my early 30’s, I suffered from “FOMO”- “FEAR OF MISSING OUT,” resulting in busy days of going out, basking in freedom, cramming my ink-filled calendar with one activity after another. I was never popular in high school, so if I could be popular now in my 20’s and 30’s, then why not??
I did not think or care about the later costs of me feeling drained out, exhausted, and my sleep patterns all messed up, but as my parents and only one friend would question out of care for me: “Are you pacing yourself? You are the one who will suffer the consequences and not others. Slow down. Be selective.” I ignored them. I just wanted to “Live it Up” rather than “Slow it Down.” So, I gave. I gave my all. To everyone and anyone that I often forgot that I am only human with tremendous flaws, imperfections, and limitations. I failed to find balance in the bonkers or calm in the chaos. I was always the cheerleader with the pom poms, the side kick, the supporting cast/supporter, and the one with the biggest smile and loudest claps for others. I am the friendly one and friends with everyone with the purpose to make a positive difference and leave them laughing and happy with a smile on their face and imprinted in their spirit.
Now in my mid-30’s, things are changing and I am changing to break patterns and habits. The truth is that when the crowds fade and the clamors quiet, I am left alone and by myself with thoughts: Well, who will be there for me? Who appreciates and acknowledges me? Do people even really know me well enough to help and support what I need? Who knows me well enough to know what I need? Who cares about me? Who would, maybe, just maybe, go the extra for me? Who REALLY knows me better than I know myself? And, how can I take care of and help others in the best of ways when I may not be taking care of myself?
Have you ever questioned all this? Can you honestly say you know anyone OUTSIDE of family who will be there for you when you are REALLY in an emergency or need? Are you taking care of yourself?
All these questions and quandaries sound resentful and petty. In fact, it also teeters on expectations of people when the reality is that we can only hope and cannot expect anything from anyone. People disappoint. People get disappointed.
I’ve come to understand that you can be friendly with everyone, but you cannot REALLY be friends with everyone. True friends outside of family who can and do help you out are rare and priceless gifts. I find that most people want to help, but are limited. I’ve come to depend fiercely on myself after only family came through for me and, perhaps, no more than three-five friends. It is natural to reach a point where boundaries are made, lines are drawn, and invisible walls are put up after being on your own to fend for yourself and being burnt before being toasted and trying to ward off being completely charcoaled. There comes a point where we become increasingly selective with who we spend our time with, who we give to, who we go to for help as each person has individual gifts to give when called upon, and letting the ‘all’ we can give and have given become the ‘some.’ The greatest gift and especially necessity of giving ‘some’ rather than ‘all’ is to take care of you in the long haul. You cannot pour from an empty cup.
We think we are invincible and do it all and give it our all. We eventually understand that we are limited in our own means and in time, resulting in becoming much more selective with the dawning realization of how precious time of how we spend our time and especially with who whether it is to give or to receive. We are unaware of the importance of taking care of ourselves to help others and how we all wish to be acknowledged and appreciated. It is not about being selfish. It is about being honest with yourself and with others. We do not stop to recognize, acknowledge, and admit our limitations and end up slamming our brakes until it is too late rather than slowing down.
Are you selective with who you help and give to and who you spend your time with? Do you tend to give your all? I’m learning to take care of myself, pace myself, be selective, and reserve ‘my all’ in parts and pieces for the greater picture and for endurance rather than sprinting. I am learning to say “No” while embracing flexibility and wiggle room as life calls for all of this. Are you? Do not let your 'all' become your 'none.'
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,