Hi, my name is Story, and I'm a people pleaser.
I've been wrestling with this a lot lately. With not knowing who I am and what I want , with looking for meaning and comfort in ways that are ultimately unsatisfying. (With recognizing that what I just wrote is a fragment and not a sentence and being willing to put it on the Internet anyway. Ahem.)
I've been reading lots of Brene Brown and recognizing my own tendencies to please and perfect when faced with shame, to try to make up for my own sense of my own inadequacy by making everyone else happy.
And then today I read this breathtaking take on the lies depression tells you by Anne Theirault for the Huffington Post.
#7 felt like a punch in the stomach.
I've felt that way for a long time. Probably my entire adult life. Longer even. That I needed to make everyone happy and take care of everyone in order to earn my place, to prove my worth, to make up for the fact that really, deep down inside, I kind of suck. That everyone has to put up with me so at least I should make sure I have something to offer in return.
It sounds awful when I say it that way. Jesus.
Have I really been saying that to myself for all these years?
But at the same time, even as it feels like such a relief to hear someone else say it, to realize that it's not just me that thinks this, that it's not really true, that it's just another lie that the depression tells, that it's just my brain chemistry talking, just a poorly conditioned cognitive response?
I hate it. It feels scary and raw. I feel stripped of everything.
Because this is who I am. I make people happy. I solve other people's problems, not my own.
I'm damn good at it.
Where is that line? The line between "This is my meaningful work and my gift and my purpose and I feel really good about this" and "I need to do this because I don't have value without it and it stops me from feeling bad"? Where is the line between constructive and destructive?
I know when it's getting out of control. I can feel the wash of shame, sense the hustle, feel the desperation, the fear that I've gone too far or not far enough and I'm going to be rejected.
I want to learn how to give love and grace just to give love and grace. I want to stop, as Brene Brown puts it, "hustling for worthiness."