It’s easy for our entire perspective to shift in crisis–a loved one dies, a tragedy occurs, we survive a car accident–and, all of a sudden we begin to see things differently; to question everything.
But what about on just a regular Tuesday?
What about when our lives seem imperfectly normal–house, husband, kids, dog, job, dinner, chores, responsibilities?
What crosses our minds when we are making what scientists say are 30-35,000 decisions a day?
Here’s what used to cross mine, “I wonder if she’s judging me for _____. Oh, no. I see her face. Yeah, she’s definitely judging.”
Sometimes it was the more self deprecating, self loathing voice that said things like, “Clearly you’re failing. Everything is a total disaster but all of these other moms have it all together. What is WRONG with you!?”
But, as I type this, I am on a connecting flight back to my husband, my kids, my dog–my norma–and something just isn’t sitting right in me.
Full disclosure, I have NEVER been someone who aims to please others. In fact, many who knew me growing up would likely laugh and tell you that I often did things in direct opposition to what was expected or normal.
Of course, I am also a natural rule-follower, so I kept things within reason. I wasn’t breaking the law, but I was bending the rules and pushing the boundaries almost always.
So what changed?
When did I go from reasonable rebel to constantly chasing normal? To making sure everyone else felt comfortable, even in the face of what made me happy or what I knew to be best for myself or my family?
Um, no ma’am. No more. That crap stops TO-DAY.
Because here is what happens when you get your head out of your tail and check that people-pleasing mess at the door:
You Can Breathe
Sister, I don’t know about you but I am tired of being strangled by the overwhelm that comes with making sure that person gets what they want to eat, and this friend has me to lean on but it’s never reciprocated.
I am O-Ver It.
Once I started staying ‘no’ to the things that didn’t bring me peace, my joy naturally came back. Each, “I’m sorry, but no that won’t work for me,” felt like a physical weight lifted from my chest and breathing felt easy again.
You Have Space to Focus on what is Most Important
Once you realize that every ‘yes’ to something that doesn’t bring you joy is a ‘no’ to something that could, you begin to throw those babies out like candy in a parade because, honey, NOW you know what living feels like!
“Do you want to bring goodies for the entire school’s celebration of National Stapler Awareness Day? Oh and they need to be gluten free, carb free, dairy free, allergy friendly, nut free, zero sugar, also delicious and homemade but include a nutrition label, and they MUST be shaped like tiny staplers.”
Yeah, that’d be a HECK to the NO, Margaret, but thanks for asking!
Before my shift back from normal-seeker to rebellious-no-sayer, I would have reluctantly agreed and then beaten myself up all the way home from PTO because I’m not even good at baking and, “Do they even make stapler-shaped cookie cutters!?”
Saying ‘no’ doesn’t mean you can no longer say ‘yes’.
While I’m not the one to bring insanely healthy but still somehow delicious office supply shaped treats for my kids’ school, I can absolutely donate cases of water, deliver lunch to a field trip group, or come speak at a parent event about positive discipline strategies.
But knowing what brings me joy versus what sends me into an immediate anxiety tailspin gives me the space to focus on what I care about most.
So we traded our overly-yesed scheduled for tech-free family time, workouts together (or apart), reading in my hammock while my wild children run around like animals in our yard. You need to intentionally create space for that, my friend.
You Begin to See More Clearly
Before purposely rejecting normal and running head-on into the face of wild freedom, I was certain of only one thing: I would, without question, disappoint people.
And, lean in close sister because I think this is true for all of us: I HATE disappointing people.
I don’t care if you’re my family, my BFF, my husband, my kid’s teacher, the dentist, or some rando beside me on a plane I’ve never met before, I sincerely WANT to make you happy and comfortable and allllll of the good things.
But there remains this truth: I am not responsible for your happiness anymore than you are responsible for mine.
So when I stopped feeling obligated to cater to the needs to everyone around me and started to take a second to consider what makes ME happy, I was able to see people and situations for what they really are–fallible, floundering and feeling around blindly for how to do things right.
None of us have it all figured out and none of us ever will. We’re just all out here winging it. So do what makes you happy and make decisions that best fit the needs of your family, regardless of what Aunt Sally is going to say next Thanksgiving. (She’s a whole mess anyway and we all know it!)
Toxic People Find Someone New to Suck the Life Out Of
A funny thing happens when you start drawing clear lines in the sand; setting boundaries for yourself and those around you. The people who love you, believe in you, and will fight alongside you step up to support you in even greater ways than you’d ever imagine.
And the other people?
The ones who completely exhausted you?
Those who you dread answering their call because you know it will only be to ask for something, need a favor, or to complain and vent until your ear is all sweaty and you need a nap?
They. Go. Away.
I promise. It is MAGICAL.
It’s a simple equation, really. Needy, life-sucking, toxic people aren’t attracted to those who are unwilling to bend to their needs, give in when pressured, or be bullied into doing things that don’t bring them happiness.
You no longer suit them so they will move on to someone who does.
And, friend, I promise you that is like giving a gift to yourself.
You Remember What Freedom and Peace Feel Like
Even at just 37, I feel like life a teenager or 20-something was a whole other lifetime. Now it is more likely I’d feel buried in doubt and debt, crushed my chaos and crisis, and beaten down by the burdens of life.
It’s hard to remember a time when my biggest concern was whether or not I’d have a date to prom or how I’d do on a final exam in college.
Those times seemed so effortless, so free. When we could go grab a milkshake at midnight or stay up late laughing with friends until our faces hurt.
So what changed?
Did I give that up voluntarily?
Is there some unwritten rule of adulthood that demands you trade your peace and freedom in exchange for a spouse and kids or a career and house?
Friend, this one stings a little but I’m here to tell you the truth so here it goes: We. Did. This.
Yep. There is is.
We did it. We make a choice–thousands, really–to put the needs of others before our own, the happiness and convenience of someone else at the expense of our own breathing room to enjoy our lives.
So that mess it O-Ver.
(In reading this, you are in a legally binding obligation to quit that crap. *Also, that is not remotely legal in any way.)
I’m not saying not to serve others. I’m not asking you not to volunteer or give at church or help your community. In no way should this be translated to a self-pleasing, self-only-focused message.
What I hope you read here is that whatever situation we are in, to some degree, is an outcome of our choices–good, bad, or otherwise.
So, you have 30,000 choices to make in a day. Will you start to say ‘no’ in favor of the ‘yeses’ that will truly being you joy and peace, even if it means less convenience for others?
It hasn’t been an overnight or easy change for me. It is transition.
But friend, we only have one life–one chance to live our passions and beliefs out loud–so why, then, aren’t we chasing our dreams like we are on fire and choosing peace and joy at every opportunity?
Join me. You might disappoint a few people along the way, but normal is boring. Trust me.