I like to think I’m a good friend.
I always am ready to listen, to be a shoulder to cry on, to give advice should the situation warrant it. I give pieces of myself to my friends to hold on to. I give out little pieces of my heart and soul to help my friends feel better and feel supported and feel loved. I give so much away that sometimes, I’m not sure what I still have for myself.
I’m not sure when it started, but slowly and surely, some of my friends stopped giving me something back. At first, I accepted it – thought okay, she had a bad day and she needed to vent, so it’s okay that she didn’t ask how my day was. I allowed my friends to put all their problems on me. I was happy to help them. I’m always happy to help them.
But then, it became that every day was a new complaint, a new problem. And instead of finishing their rant and then checking in with me, it ended with me apologizing because I was at work so I couldn’t really talk or I didn’t have solid advice to give considering I’d never found myself in similar situations or saying sorry because I felt that if I apologized, I could shoulder some of their pain and take some weight off their shoulders.
BUT WHO IS HOLDING SOME OF THE WEIGHT ON MY SHOULDERS?
Some days, it feels like the weight of some of my friends’ worlds is on my shoulders. And it feels like no one is willing to listen to me for a change, and to give me a piece of themselves to have as comfort.
And then, some of my relationships disintegrated into unanswered texts and broken plans until they needed something. Some of my relationships broke into cracked pieces of friendships that would only be used when something went wrong in their lives. And some of my relationships are simply…gone.
I promised myself this summer that I wouldn’t allow anyone to make me feel like I’m not worthy of their time. If I’m putting effort into a relationship, I told myself, that person has to put effort into the relationship too.
And most importantly, I finally started putting myself first. I started to try to believe more in myself than I believe in other people.
Because this is my fatal flaw: I am a people pleaser. I’d rather be miserable and everyone else be happy than let anyone else in the group be upset and me get my way. That’s just how I am.
But this summer, with some of my friends essentially abandoning me and ignoring me, I said:
I express myself more in that I say what I want. I tell my friends what I want and need and think more. My plans come first. I’m finally living the life I should be living. My friends are treating me better.
Now, instead of waiting for a text to be answered or a complaint to be finished, I’m more at peace with myself. Of course, I’m still disappointed in some of my friends when they act terribly to me, but I’m learning not to be.
I will always be a people pleaser. I don’t know how not to be one. But now, I can be a people pleaser and please myself at the same time. I don’t have to sacrifice what I want to my friends anymore. I don’t have to sacrifice my self-worth, my happiness, or my time to people who can’t even answer a text message. I am slowly collecting the pieces of myself I gave away and people discarded, not understanding how valuable I really am. It’ll take some time to retrain my brain to think this way, but it’ll happen, and I’ll be better off for it.
And that’s the most pleasing thing of all.
Originally written by Emily Bernstein on Unwritten.