Life as a People-Pleaser is Tough. Trust Me, I AM One.

If I was given the chance to choose just one thing to change about myself, I'd be spoilt for choice and we'd be here all f*cking day.

Sorry, sorry. A diabolical start.

Let's try that again, shall we?

Okay. If I was given the chance to choose just one thing to change about myself, then I would choose to eliminate my tiresome aim to always please people.

Yes, I am one of those, and yes, I infuriate myself. Believe me.

I have gone through the best part of the last 21 years struggling to handle any type of disagreement, any type of criticism, anybody thinking that something I have done is wrong. I just want everyone to like me on a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week basis. And, whilst it's a lovely thing to want others to always hold you in high regard, it's also borderline impossible. In fact, scrap that, it is impossible, and the very logical part of my brain can acknowledge that.

Unfortunately for me, said logical part of my brain seldom wins an argument with the illogical part, and so I continue to strive for maximum people-pleasing.

Let me explain what I mean by that.

First of all, I'd like to clear up the fact that I am not a "yes, man" kind of girl. I have an insatiable need to apply meaning to as much of my life as possible, so it is rare that you'll ever find me doing something that I don't want to do. If a friend asks me to stay at the bar until 11, but I want to leave at 9, chances are that I will leave at 9.

This isn't because I want to be petty, or even that I want to prove a point. It's because if I don't leave at 9, I'll spend that time between 9PM and 11PM agitated to the point of despair that I will never get those two wasted, meaningless hours back. Dramatic, right? But I am who I am, and all of that.

So, obviously my need to people-please doesn't manifest in the bog standard 'I'll suppress my own wishes and do what everybody else wants instead' kind of way. It rather presents itself in having me constantly backing down, constantly over-explaining myself and constantly having a mild stroke every time I think someone is angry with me.

Picture the scene.

Someone has really, really annoyed me, be it a boyfriend, a best friend, or even a colleague. I've mooched through the usual process - fuming, sobbing, venting furiously to my mother, declaring myself a self-care guru (the throw-yourself-head-first-into-articles-about-toxic-relationships kind), proceeded to have an emotional breakdown, back to fuming, so on and so forth.

I've thrown phrases such as "they can jog on", "their loss" and "I don't need that in my life" around like they're going out of fashion, and I have sworn to my loyal compadres that I just. don't. care.

I know. You can smell the bollocks from here.

Particularly when it comes to the confrontation bit, which involves me getting so worked up that I may as well walk around with 'pending panic attack' scrawled across my forehead.

By nature, I'm not a very confrontational person. Yes, I have opinions, very strong ones, in fact, but I'm pretty dire at talking about them, especially when it's to somebody that doesn't hold the same view.

Of course, when you feel pretty upset with someone, it's to be expected that the other person will see things from a different perspective, and of course they are going to defend themselves. It's human nature.

What is unfortunate, though, is that the spectacularly illogical organ in my skull decides to take the side of the 'opposition', and so everything that they say turns into a gigantic attack. On myself. And of course, I turn in. On myself.

"I'm sorry," I say, despite thinking previously that I had nothing to apologise for.

"I completely get where you're coming from." I don't.

"It's not that big of a deal, I've just caused an issue over nothing." I was definitely upset for a reason and I am absolutely invalidating my own feelings here.

All of that, just to avoid further conflict. So that I can lie in bed at night without losing my shit over whether or not they think I am a bad person. And you'd be well within your rights to speculate that it shouldn't matter what they think, especially if they have hurt me? Right?

Wrong. Because God forbid the word got back to that person's aunty's brother in law's friend's grandma that I was an unpleasant person.

I'm not exaggerating. I literally care that much.

In fact, it's so bad that I was once having a completely non-personal debate with a friend on something to do with a TV presenter, and another friend actually texted me from across the room to tell me that it didn't make me a bad person for having a different opinion. She could tell, she said.

"I know what you're like."

And she was right. As soon as I read the message, I burst into tears, because I was so worked up that my friend with the opposing opinion would think terribly of me. Honestly, roll your eyes a little harder - I don't blame you. I'm the first to admit that it's nothing short of ridiculous.

But, I guess my point is this - I'm learning to be okay with it. And if you're anything at all like me, I want you to know that it is absolutely fine. It doesn't make you pathetic, or a coward, or a 'mug' - all of the things I've called myself, before. It just means you are a little bit of a people-pleaser, and that's okay.

Of course, within reason - the last thing I want is for anyone to let themselves be treated badly, or to minimise their voice in fear of being disagreed with. Please, have absolute confidence in how you feel, listen to your body, speak your mind! But, what I'm saying is - don't beat yourself up if you struggle to do so.

Yes, we are what the masses would call "soft as shit", and yes, some may argue that we are a little easier to 'walk all over', but whilst always wanting to please people isn't a strength, it certainly isn't a weakness, either.

It's just the way you are. It's the way that I am, for sure.

To put it simply, if the equilibrium is disrupted, my anxiety has a field day. So, if that means I have to shy away from conflict, or let certain issues go because I don't have the emotional strength to hold my argument, then so be it.

It doesn't mean that my point obviously never had any substance to it because I couldn't debate it (something I used to tell myself). It also doesn't mean that I'll never have the resilience to handle anything in my adult life (again, a stick I used to batter myself with regularly). So it doesn't mean those things for you, either.

Do what you've got to do. People-please to your heart's content. But, pay attention to who it is that you feel the need to please all of the time.

That's another conversation for another day.

In the meantime, make sure to look after you.

All the love,

Chlo xx


County Durham, United Kingdom

© 2020 this japanese crane - chloe nattrass.