I tend to cater to other people more often than I’d like to admit. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not going to pull a George Bailey and lasso the moon for everyone- but I usually put my friends’ preferences before my own. I’m pretty lax on restaurant selection, will let you pick the aisle in the movie theater, and usually end up being the designated driver. I’m still learning how to balance my own wants with the desires of others and usually just want everyone to be as comfortable as possible.
That being said, I’m not good at telling others what I want. Most friends and family members usually aren’t exactly willing to listen. Either that or they expect immediate answers. I prefer to give well-thought-out responses. But few people have the patience for that.
“Let me be nice to you; let me take care of you.”
These are words that have been playing over and over in my mind for the past 48+ hours. They’re what one of my best friends said to me more than twice over the weekend and I’m finally absorbing what they mean.
Like me, this friend also has a strong tendency to please people. Most of our conversations begin with “what are you in the mood for?” or “what do you feel up to?” and end with one of us eventually deciding something or us coming to a compromise. Granted, they aren’t life-changing decisions. We’re both just kind of inclined to make the other person happy.
So what happens when you have to learn to give in?
That sounds pretty odd considering what I just told you, right? Aren’t people-pleasers constantly giving in to make someone else happy? And by definition, doesn’t that make the giver as happy as the receiver? Well in many cases, yes. But the ‘giving in’ I’m talking about now has to do with breaking out of your comfort zone to give the other person the fulfillment. And for me, it started breaking down a relationship barrier.
I had a headache on Saturday.
Now when I’m in pain or sick, I don’t really like to talk about it. I kind of just keep it to myself and try my best to handle it. Deep down, I wish someone would just hold me and let me cry in their arms- but I rarely let that happen. For some reason it’s ingrained in me to keep up a strong front and handle all that on my own.
So I tried taking care of this headache. There was no reason to bother anyone with my life distraction. I took some ibuprofen, ate some food, and kept waiting. I felt like if I told my friend about it, he’d be disappointed in me. I had this idea that I’d bring down the whole day if I let him know I was hurting. But eventually I gave in because I couldn’t handle it anymore. I was out of ideas.
All the time, I was afraid of burdening him with something so silly. If the roles were reversed, I know I would have done everything in my power to make him feel better. So why was it so hard for me to be the vulnerable one? Why did I feel ashamed for something that was really out of my control? And furthermore, why did I keep resisting?
“You don’t need to do anything. I’ll be okay.”
“Colleen, why won’t you let me take care of you?”
He ended up running to the store and getting some stuff that helped. But the whole experience opened my eyes to the fact that I am not good at being on the receiving end of help. Throughout the whole weekend, he would try to do nice things for me and I kept catching myself with a guard up. I wasn’t used to having car doors opened for me or getting to pick where to eat. No one outside of my family has ever waited in long lines at a concert to get me a beer or offered to carry the blankets or hold my purse. It was so strange to me.
I know there are many factors as to how I became like this. That’s a discussion for another time though. Right now, I’m going to work on figuring out what kind of love I do deserve. And more importantly, how to accept that love from others. Because, coming full circle, it pleases the people-pleasers when you let them please you. 😉
Heroes | Peter Gabriel (David Bowie cover)