So here I am, bearing everything to you dear reader. I will pour out my guts and insides to you if at least you will take away from my posts just one life lesson. If all you take away is this, then I will consider my job over and done with.
Whatever you do…
Don’t live your life to please other people.
And if you are, then consider the fact that you find yourself in good company. I too have been here before, and I’m familiar with the repercussions of “people pleasing”. I know the anxieties and selfish longings too well. I often felt misunderstood as if no one really knew what my mind was up to.
Did they know what really made me tick?
Why was it that when everyone was getting engaged and picking out china patterns, that I at 21 years old wanted nothing more than to travel somewhere new?
Shouldn’t I want those same things? What would they say if they knew the truth?
I used to weigh very heavily on what others thought of me. What I wore. What I ate for lunch. What designer handbag I carried with me (hint: they were always knock-offs). Who I dated.
Take it from someone who’s been there. Living for the crowd’s applause on life’s stage only breeds anxiety, resentment and regret over missed opportunities.
It wasn’t until my third year of university that I realised I had a “people-pleasing” addiction. I was too concerned with what others were doing and what they thought about what I was doing. So I came to a solution. I finally did what I wanted to do.
I flew to England.
That spring I spent 6 wonderful months in the midst of self-discovery. I read new books, ate new foods, and learned all about philosophy and literature and politics. I was head-over-heels in love with my life. But that short semester didn’t satisfy my craving, my longing for more. All that it did was awaken my desire to travel again.
This dream of mine wasn’t well received by everyone I knew however. While my family was very supportive, many of my friends and peers were confused. It would ruin our plans, they said. It would disrupt your life plan, they said. You will be all alone, they said. You might be lonely.
Going away to Scotland was one of the most selfish decisions I ever made.
But it probably saved my life.
It brought me back to life in a way I didn’t even realise needed re-awakening. It revealed things about myself that I had buried deep down inside for quite some time. What would have happened to me had I not taken that step? Would I be the same person?
I dare not think it. I just thank God for his grace.
Some of you who have experienced life-changing moments on the road or those who have made a gigantic leap of faith in your own life journey will understand when I say that we must stop waving to the crowd behind us and to keep our eyes set on the road ahead. If we want to really live, not just survive but to really live, then we might have to leave everything that is comfortable and familiar to us and walk out in faith.
Sometimes, life requires us to take a risk. This will cost us. Our peers may question our judgement. Our friends may not understand. Our loved ones may feel rejected or frustrated.
But the key is this: learning to let go of what others think and embrace what you think. Embrace what God says about you. What He has planned for you.
While I can’t promise that letting go of “people pleasing” is easy, I do promise that you will never regret taking chances.
You may think twice about buying that plane ticket. You might question your doctor’s advice about taking antidepressants. You’ll probably feel embarrassed telling your family that you started seeing a therapist. And you’ll definitely, almost definitely, experience heartbreak when you finally decide to end that relationship.
But you won’t regret any of it. Oh you will feel, and feel deeply. You will cry your eyes out, yell and scream, and maybe even get angry. But you won’t live with regret.
I awoke that September morning in Edinburgh feeling chaotic, anxious, excited, sad, and nervous all at the same time. But I was free of regret. I didn’t regret buying that plane ticket. Because I knew in that moment, that despite everything and everyone, I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
And for the first time in a long time, I was really living.