I have watched life zoom past me. I have struggled for opportunities then let go at the last lap because someone else needed it more or because I needed something from someone and I wasn’t willing to inconvenience the person to get it. I’ve always been attuned to people’s emotions, always been able to feel what they feel. This unusual empathy- blessing or curse? I think it might be a curse. See, I’m the person in a group who will try to soften the blows of people’s teasing of other people, even if it’s none of my business (Imagine me butting into a conversation just to say don’t take her seriously, she’s just joking). I’m the one who ensures to say just joking after every teasing sentence to make sure you don’t take it the wrong way. I will always try to explain my actions. I say sorry an inordinate amount of times. I would give out anything to anyone if they pulled a sincere enough puppy dog face.
On that note, my dog loves me. He knows he can get away with anything with me. He knows that I’ll sneak him a piece of my sausage every time he gets locked in without dinner for being bad. And while he immediately settles down when my dad picks up his beating stick, he just jumps around more if I’m holding it. He thinks am joking- and I might as well be. He knows I don’t have the heart to beat him and when I’m yelling, it’s like I’m feeding him adrenaline. As you can probably tell, it takes me ages to put him in his doggy cage.
Same with life in general. I’m always so preoccupied with making everyone feel at ease that I forfeit my own comfort. I shouldn’t care what anybody thinks or what they’re going through. I shouldn’t care about inconveniencing them. If I need something, I shouldn’t give it away. If I want something, I should take it, rather than offer it to the person next to me.
For example this week, I’m like super broke and so every 5 bucks counts. I had every kobo planned out so that I would only have to skip one or two lunches. Well yesterday, a friend, actually not really a friend, just a classmate asked me for some change and I couldn’t lie and say I didn’t have any, neither could I say I couldn’t give her. And how petty would it be to ask her to pay a 20 back. But I needed that money. I really did. Still, I gave it to her. What’s worse is that if it were the other way round, i would literally be killing myself until I returned that 20, even if she told me not to. What is wrong with me?
It’s like I can sacrifice my time, effort, money if someone asked me but I would swallow myself before I asked anyone to do even one-sixteenth of that for me. Is this some messed up reversal of ‘do onto others what you would like them to do onto you’ or what? Part of being a team player is to learn to ask for and accept help. Which is something I don’t normally know how to do. So as one would expect, I don’t do well with study partners because I end up giving all and gaining nothing- and being happy about it.
So now I’m trying to fix myself. I’ve come to realize that if I’m always so concerned with what others are feeling, then I won’t accomplish anything. Do you know that I’ve once struggled with if to purposely get a few questions wrong in an exam just so my friend wouldn’t feel bad if I got a higher grade? It’s true. I didn’t do it (mostly because the exam was hard anyways) but I did say an unusual prayer which went something like ‘God please let her get a few marks higher than me.’ I can’t imagine what God must have been thinking, listening to me.
So you see how big of a problem this can be. Right now, it’s as small as giving up my space in line after listening to some sob story but will I give up my dream job just so my friend can have a chance at it? If I continue this way, I won’t get anywhere in life. It’s inevitable to step on a few toes if I want to get higher in life.
I’ve got this friend. She’s so determined. She isn’t afraid to even smash the toes. If she doesn’t understand something, she won’t let you go until you teach her. If she needs something, she doesn’t care how many people she’ll have to wake from sleep to get it. She’ll whine and cry and yell until they help her out. The thing is though; they’re never annoyed with her. I wonder why my messed up brain tells me that if I inconvenience someone, if I stress them even a little then they’ll hate me forever. I guess I’ve never really understood the phrase friends are for inconveniences.
Maybe this unwillingness to impose and my people-pleasing nature stems from my distrust of people and my imagining them as two faced individuals whose bad sides will unleash at the slightest provocation. So I don’t provoke at all. And I keep my associations with people to the bare HIs and HELLOs and the occasional favors I do for them.
I can’t continue this way. Not if I want to be successful in life.
I actually thought medicine the perfect profession for me because it involves a lot of helping others and not needing help (and because I get along well with people due to my people-pleasing traits). It means I’m the one in power and since I’m the only one I trust not to abuse such power, it seemed perfect. However, what if, in the future, I need a signature from a superior of mine, you know, the ones who are so busy that they can hardly spare a few minutes. If I’m not persistent, if am not willing to chase him/her down and disturb him/her, how will I get it? When I need to stick a knife into someone during surgery, will I still be looking at the patient’s face, feeling what they’re feeling? How will I get anything done?
I need to somehow, grow a thicker skin, not exactly harden my heart but maybe wrap it in some Styrofoam. I need to be a little less nice.
Any suggestions on how I can do this?