I was raised with the mindset that I should put other people’s needs and wishes over mine. That I should try to please everyone and that I better keep my mouth shut if what I had to say was going to upset someone. I was raised to be what my parents thought a good girl should be like. And I don’t blame them. I know they had the best intentions and I totally understand where it comes from. I’m also glad they didn’t raise me to be an egoistic idiot who doesn’t care about others. But I do feel that in a way it also made me blind to my own needs, to finding my own way for the longest time. It took me decades to convince myself that it’s ok to have dreams and to do things that others might not approve of. Even if it’s your own parents. Sometimes it’s totally ok to piss someone off if you have reasons. You don’t have to please everybody. And you can’t. It’s the most normal thing in the world. And most importantly, admitting this is not a defeat!
A while ago, my company gave me the opportunity to attend a stress seminar because I’d had some problems with my workload and coping with the stress that came with it. I’m convinced that anybody would have had a problem with the situation I’d been in at the time, but I thought I’d give that seminar a try anyway. To my surprise, I had to realize that I’m still pretty much caught in that mindset my parents taught me. Even though I thought I wasn’t. Subconciously, I still felt the urge to please everyone, my clients, my bosses, my coworkers and all the other people I had to deal with. And when I wasn’t able to fulfill these high standards (which was basically not possible in my situation) it stressed me out. To no end. But did I say anything? No! I just suffered. I talked about it with my boyfriend, my family and friends, but I didn’t complain to anyone at work. Or just subtly. I hoped for things to change for the better. But they didn’t. They even got worse. But everything looked fine from the outside, so of course noone came to rescue me. In the end, I pulled myself out by breaking down. I can tell you, it wasn’t pretty and I don’t wish for anyone to experience anything like it. After a week at home, I went back to work, but it took me weeks to get back up again. In fact, I think it’s still leaving it’s traces here and there.
For me, that breakdown was a warning sign. That it’s time to stand up for myself again. And that I have every right to. It still have to force myself to do it, especially in the work environment. When it comes to my private dreams I’m a pretty good advocate for myself, but for some reason not so much jobwise. Last week, however, I had one of these awesome moments where I actually had the guts to stand up for myself. I had been told to do an assignment on very short notice which absolutely wasn’t my responsibility and which could’ve already been done days earlier. In short, it was just totally unnecessary to put it on my desk which was crammed with work already anyway. Probably a result of bad planning and I was the one to pay for it. I didn’t complain. I did the work that needed to be done, but I swore to myself that this time I wouldn’t just swallow all the feelings I had. I needed to make clear that it wasn’t ok to treat me that way. And I did! There was a brief moment where I thought of backing out, but I was brave enough to speak my mind. It was such a relief! And guess what, nothing bad happened. I didn’t get shouted at or anything. And even if I had, it would’ve been worth it.
I know I will continue to stand up for myself. I need to if I want to lead the life I’m dreaming of. It’s inevitable. This is really just the beginning I think!