August 7, 2012 by Chelisa
I’ve never been quick to call someone out when they step on my boundaries.
It’s really surprising, seeing as I’m an only child and all, but my whole life I’ve struggled with sorting through things to determine what was mine and what belonged to others. This can be a great skill, I’ve very rarely (accurately) been called selfish, but it often serves to my detriment. I don’t draw lines, I’m not vocal about any injuries, I get hurt, and then have no one to blame but myself. I’m empathetic to a fault, and, in turn I give all of myself away. I’ve always thought that was the way to live your life. My grandmother always told me that “You only have to give an account of what you do,” and I interpreted that to mean that I should give and give and then no one could ever hold me responsible for being selfish, or petty, or greedy, or self-serving. Now, I’m pretty sure that’s not what she meant at all.
When I started working at RTC, I had the
brilliant idea that in order for me to be able to interview clients most strongly, that Corey should interview me. I actually looked forward to the interview, priding myself on my authenticity and self-awareness. As soon as Corey started, I felt a flush. I was uncomfortable, my voice was shaky, I wanted to be anywhere but on the phone with him, discussing my life. Corey wasn’t out of line, but he drew everything back to one idea: “You just want to be nice. You will sacrifice your authenticity in order for people to like you.” (Apologies for probably misquoting Corey. The above is what I pulled from our conversation).
That. Fucking. Stung.
For so long, I thought that being nice was just who I was. Some people are athletic, some are talented, some are physically attractive, I was nice. But, in exploring my background and my future desires with Mr. Blake, I realized that while I was nice, so much of it was a defense mechanism. I was nice so that people would leave me alone, so that no one would ever get to know me. My pleasant attitude was a front, keeping people from my genuine self. I don’t think that I’m a rotten person at my core, only that I don’t have to always smile or agree to things that make me uncomfortable. I found freedom and clarity like never before.
For the first time, I realized that I don’t have to continue relationships that aren’t bringing value to my life. I decided to put in my notice at the school board, not because things were terrible there (they weren’t, I loved working with my juniors, I had really great colleagues, and formed relationships that I hope will last forever) but because I was not valuing myself and my family with the time constraints that were put on me having to be away from my home, my husband and child, and my own work for 10+ hours a day. Sadly, that also meant that I had to reevaluate friendships, and realize how many of them were based on common interests and values that were no longer held by myself or the other people. I had to take ownership of who I was, my own journey, and who I want to be. I would never grow to my full potential if I was surrounded by people who wanted me to bend and still fit inside of my eighteen year old self. Hurting anyone was never my intention, but I’m willing to take ownership of my actions.
I’m still a work in progress, but I’m striving everyday to own my life. I can’t cede power to anyone or anything if I ever want to be truly happy. Are there areas in your life that you’d like to alter, but feel like you can’t? Identify where you feel most powerless, because that’s the area where you need ownership the most.