Tuesday, June 07, 2011

People Pleaser

People Pleaser

I’m starting to realize something about myself that I was never really aware of before.

I’m a people pleaser.

I’ve always been a “people person”.  I love being around people, spending time, helping out, having fun, whatever…

I’ve also always tried really hard to be a nice person.  I get true pleasure out of doing something nice for others, and that part of being a people person I’m comfortable with.  I like that part of myself.

But this is something else.  This isn’t so much about being nice as it is about being…well, for lack of a better word…a pushover.

Let me explain.

I am the sort of person that is blessed with a lot of friends.  I have always had a lot of friends, though; as time would progress I would realize most of them were more like “fair-weather friends” or even acquaintances than real friends.  However, I find that I am consistently surrounded by people I consider friends, and for that, I am blessed.

Due to my large number of friends, I have a very active social life, when I choose to take advantage of it. (When I’m not hibernating and hiding out…but this is a story for another post).

However, what I’ve begun to realize is that my social life is very one sided.  What I mean by this is, as long as I’m willing to do what my friends want to do, my social calendar is filled.  As long as I work my schedule to meet their availability, my plans to meet their interests, my fun to meet their requirements. 

Because I am an easy going person, because I happen to have many interests, and be open to trying and enjoying new things, this works out well.  I have little trouble having fun pretty much anywhere, as long as the company is good, and I’m in the right mood.  All is well.

That is, until, I want to do something that revolves around my interests instead, or fits into my schedule instead.

Suddenly I am hard pressed to find someone willing to go to that concert I want so badly to attend, even though I’ve trekked out to numerous country music shows (not my favorite).  I didn’t make it to a single Boston Celtics game this past season because I couldn’t convince a single friend to go with me, even if I succumbed to mind numbing hockey game after game for them…(again, not my favorite).  I didn’t make it to an actual beach, with an actual ocean, once all of last summer, even though I was always agreeable for a jaunt to the lake or the mountains…(which was always fun, but I love the ocean).

We won’t even discuss the numerous Friday and Saturday nights I spend at home alone, because if I don’t pick up the phone to call and make plans…my phone doesn’t ring on its own.

I should stop here and make it clear that I am not bemoaning my life.  I am not knocking my friends or even blaming them.  I don’t believe they do any of this on purpose, and with any intention to hurt or snide me, to ignore my interests…

Simply…I’ve enable this behavior in everyone around me, because I am a people pleaser.  I go out of my way to make sure everyone around me is having a good time, doing what they want to do, living their best life.  To a fault.  Forgetting, at times, that what I WANT matters as well.  Part of this is a fear that if I speak up, if I fight for what I want, I’ll end up with either my ideas or even with myself being rejected…but the alternative pretty much looks the same, doesn’t it?

As I started to realize this recently, I started to evaluate my friendships over time, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it has always been this way.  And not only that, but I carry this behavior into my romantic relationships as well.  Is it any wonder then, that I, eventually, feel frustrated, unloved, and like I am not an important part of these relationships?  That I feel I disappear and am no longer a participant?  That I withdraw, and the relationships fail?

So, now I see the problem.  Tell me friends…how do I go about finding the solution?  How do I learn to still be a good friend, but stop being such a people pleaser all the time?  How do I learn to speak up for my own interests at 36 years old?  Because I have a feeling this is yet another of the things I need to master before I can fully be ready for a partnership with my future husband (whoever he may be)…

Working on myself has been a lifelong process, but more so in recent years…finding my faults, and learning to use them for betterment…this is just another one…instead of taking this realization and turning it into a “woe is me, nobody wants to do what I want to do” moping session…I need to use it to find my footing and push off from here…

So…how exactly do I do that??