I feel like “doing me” has been my mantra of late. (I also feel obligated to give credit where credit is due — I stole the phrase from Ronnie on Jersey Shore. However, his version of doing himself revolves around fist-pumping, hair gel, and triple kisses. I’d like to think my interpretation is slightly more evolved…) I have found myself trying to explain that in 2010, I’ve just been trying to “do me” and not worry about the rest. Here’s what I mean:
So much of my young life was/is devoted gaining the approval of the people around me and once that goal was achieved I had to maintain it. I’m not saying I was a follower or that I built my self-esteem based on how I was perceived by others. What I am saying is that we all want to be well-liked and have friends. Part of this process often involves doing things we don’t always want to do, not as a result of peer pressure, but in my opinion and in my case for that matter, as a result of fear of missing out. Sometimes when I felt tired, sick or broke, I’d still slap on some lip gloss and go out with my friends because I was afraid if I didn’t I would miss something great.
I also spent a lot of time being a pleaser — going the places other people wanted to go and doing the things they wanted to do, partially because it didn’t matter to me one way or the other and partially because of my desire to be well-liked and perceived as laid back (which really, let’s be honest, I’m not). As a result of this, I started noticing that I didn’t have anything to say about myself or my life. I had plenty to say about what was going on with the people around me, but nothing to say about my world.
And I was tired. Of everything. I was tired of what felt like living everyone else’s life. None of the drama in my life has anything to do with me — it belongs to other people but somehow gets adopted as my own just because it’s there. And I was going to everyone else’s birthday parties and baby showers and weddings and various and sundry other events. I was busy. My social schedule was rarely blank. But it didn’t feel like any of it was for me. And I don’t me that the celebrations and events weren’t for me, but that I wasn’t doing these activities for myself, for my personal enjoyment or fulfillment, but that I was doing them because other people asked me to.
That’s not to say that I’m going to stop going to those events or that I don’t love the people who they are for, but I realized that I needed to take back my own world. Slowly but surely over the last several months, I have stopped agreeing to do the things I didn’t feel like doing. It seems really simple but we have all said yes to something (or many things) that we didn’t necessarily feel up to doing just because we didn’t have a good reason to say no. Well, I’ve decided that “I don’t really feel like it” or “I don’t care to do that today” or “I’d rather spend my money on baklava at Greek Fest“ are perfectly good reasons not to do something. And when I say I don’t feel like it, it is almost never because I don’t like the person who asked or don’t want to be around them specifically. It’s just because I want to do what feels the best for my self. It isn’t personal at all really.
I’ve spent a lot of time at home this year. I’ve actually been doing better with my budget. I’ve read 25 books so far. I’ve joined a lifegroup and started volunteering with them once a month. I have gotten involved with my sorority’s alumnae chapter and with an advisory board for the local chapter. These are things that have been important and worthwhile and enjoyable for me. And sometimes as a result of them I say no to a happy hour or an evening on the town or even a float trip or concert, but the things I’m choosing to do make me happy. They make me feel more whole. And they are MINE.
And to top it off, my friends still love me and they know that I love them. Sometimes saying no to someone else is saying yes to yourself.
How do you “do you?” Do you feel like you sacrifice some of your self to please others? Are you afraid saying no will cause you to miss out on something?
*Click on photos for sources.