Spinning off on a little tangent from the usual subjects, this is a bit more of a personal one. Nonetheless, I felt it was something worth putting down in writing, especially as it encourages me to actually write again – something which I’ve been sadly slacking off on for far, far too long.
I recently had the pleasure of catching up with an old friend – we hadn’t seen each other for several years. Life had done its usual number on her, and handed some rough cards in those years, but instead of letting it beat her down, she grew strong. Stronger, in fact, than I ever would have believed in the time I knew her. Where she was quiet and timid before, she’d become someone who wasn’t afraid to put her foot down, to say no. Not in a way that was aggressive, or confrontational, but in a way borne of confidence and self-assurance. It was something I instantly envied.
After we caught up, I took some time to think this through, and digest it.
I’ve spent the vast majority of my life in the way that she once had. Maybe not quite as gracefully, but in that same self-sacrificing way. Sure, I was greedy for what I wanted, and sometimes ran roughshod over other’s feelings, but for the most part, I sacrificed how I felt for others; what I wanted to do, so that others could do what they wanted. A lot of the time, it was to make them happy, and making them happy made me happy. But, there was a sizeable portion of the time where I just did what someone else wanted because that was the way it was.
My feelings became, at least in my eyes, unimportant to others. I allowed them to walk over me. I was desperate to please, and desperate to be validated for doing so. That came out in some unpleasant behaviours. Sulking was common. Doing things for others with a bad attitude, and then blaming them for me doing what they wanted. I tried to justify some of those behaviours – telling myself it was good to live a life serving others, sacrifice was good, etc.
And I resented others for not doing the same thing for me. I tried to change their behaviours, telling them outright that it wasn’t fair. (Ah, that old chestnut. “It’s not fair!”) I was playing the victim, and genuinely believing it. Worse, I knew what I was doing a lot of the time, but couldn’t stop myself. I tried hard to change, but it never quite worked out. I could point the finger left, right, and centre, but ultimately it comes down to this.
I needed to change myself.
It’s the responsibility of each person what they want to hear, what they want to take in, what they want to do, how they want to act. I can’t force others to change for me, any more than they can force me to change for them. I was trying to do the latter, in hope of doing the former, and everything was kind of collapsing into crap, making myself and others miserable.
So, I took inspiration from that same person who had made the change in herself. I can make that change in myself, I can have that confidence, and I can temper how I express myself. Most importantly, I can look after myself, whilst looking out for others, and start making sure I have time to do what I want to do, in the way that I want to do it. Being reasonable, of course.
And what I want to do right now, is write.