I saw this on Facebook today:
”I think midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear: ‘I’m not screwing around. It’s time. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go.
Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy of love and belonging, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever.
Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.”’
~ Brené Brown
Most days I don’t read things on Facebook not posted by good friends or family that are that long, but today I needed to read it. It really does sum up what happened to me as I approached 40. That was when this lifelong people pleaser decided that if people didn’t like me, that was their problem, not mine. I was done doing things to please other people and was going to work on pleasing me.
I have to admit that I still do a lot of things to please other people, but now they are people that matter and are an important part of my life. I also have to admit that I still slip into those habits from time to time. Always wanting to be the one to “save the day,” always wanting to be the one people can count on, always being the reliable one, always being the first one with my hand up when someone is looking for help.
I heard something interesting the other day about volunteering. If you are always the one people can count on to fill an empty position and you always say “yes” because you think no one else will do it and it has to get done, you need to stop. You could be depriving someone who hasn’t yet garnered the courage to step forward from doing so. Someone who is eager to do that job, someone who will find pleasure in doing those tasks, someone who might have the time to devote to it, someone who just might be better at it than you will be because they actual WANT to do it and you are just doing it because you think people need you to. By all means, if you want to volunteer, do it. But only if you have the time and desire to do the kind of job necessary for that position. If you are only doing it because someone asked you to because no one else has volunteered or because you think it will make you (or your resume) look good, think long and hard about whether you can do the kind of work the job demands or if you will be doing everyone a disservice by just accepting the position with your head and not your heart.
I have just recently figured this out. I am always humbled when people seek me out to ask me to volunteer for specific things. But the feeling that I get when I don’t do the kind of job those things deserve is not a good one. So I have cut back. Instead of being on a committee that meets once a month and stresses me out because work conflicts and I don’t take the time to do the things that need to get done in my “free” time, I volunteer for the day of the event. One day. Actually just a few hours (early ones to be sure, but just a few). It has made a huge difference in my feeling of giving because I’m giving them a much better version of myself than they were getting before. Someone else stepped in to do the job I was doing on the committee and I’m sure made huge strides for the event.
My gifts are many but the time I have available is very limited. I am trying to keep that in mind when those well-intentioned people are seeking me out. It is working much better so far. Driving to the event telling myself that I swear it is the last time I will volunteer is not the right attitude to have when you are volunteering. Driving to the event telling myself that I am making a difference with the gift of a few hours of my time and knowing in my heart that I will do it again next year is priceless.
I am trying to be done worrying about what other people think and am moving on to the many unexplored adventures that I already have planned (and many, many more that aren’t planned yet). This crazy life truly is made to be lived and loved with your whole heart, not a distracted, overcommitted, guilty heart. So let’s make a pact to get our whole heart in gear and live and love with that sucker for as long as it is still beating. Are you in?