I used to be a people pleaser until it landed me in a position where all could watch and no one could help. Meaning, I would push myself to conform to what others expected of me, whether it was healthy or not. People pleasing is taxing, it pushes you aware from you are at your core. It forbids you to live authentically but bend to the wants of other people. What people pleasing got me was months of lack of sleep and eventually anxiety.
In a previous post I spoke about self-care and depression. The reason I wrote that post was because in an effort to live up to the expectations of others I put myself in a bad place. However, I didn’t know it was bad until it was too late. Being in a PhD program, tutoring, teaching courses, and everything else outside of school, I became stressed and I knew it. But, what I didn’t know is that I had exhausted myself this time. I would wake up tired and go to sleep tired. I would be so weak and nauseous but I kept pushing because I wanted to be the best.
Well what that got me was medication to help with anxiety/sleep and depression pills. Now, while I never needed to take the depression meds I did need something to help me sleep because I couldn’t turn my brain off. I had pushed myself, in fact over 5 months, trained myself to keep going and naturally because we are creatures of habit, my body got the memo. So why self-deprivation?
Self-deprivation is defined as voluntary denial or suppression of one’s own interests or desires. While in fact school was once my desire, it’s demand was not. And, because I wanted to be what other people said I was, I pushed myself to the max. In retrospect, I realize that those compliments were not worth it. The bragging rights and yearning to be great isn’t as grand as expected. Now, when it comes within its right season then yes, but how many times have you tried to conform to others and lost yourself?It isn’t worth it.
It’s kind of what literature people call double-consciousness, originally coined by W.E.B DuBois–a great public intellectual during the Reconstruction Era. He says that double consciousness “ is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of…measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings…” In essence, there are two dark souls trapped in one body. The moment we realize how we are internally and how the world perceives us to be, we have experienced double consciousness.
However, what DuBois fails to realize is that, he is putting the chore of choosing on the individual experiencing double-consciousness, not drawing attention of the error of the outside structures that superimposes one to feel this way. Here is where you come in. Don seek to please other people, because you will always disappoint someone or someone will always have something negative to say. Instead, focus on living a life that is pleasing unto God.