As a youngster I was an unconditional and eternally loving friend and family member. That principle never left me and all the people I have ever loved in my life, I loved them like they were family.
I used to be the entertainer, the extrovert, the caring and giving one. I always put others before myself and never thought twice about it. Until one day I did, and then at that point, I realized that a lot of the people I considered dear to my heart, were only interested in me when I fit into the role of the 'giving entertainer and caring extrovert'.
The host of all hostesses
The people gatherer
The dinner party thrower
& perhaps most desirable of them all, the emotional nurturer.
You see, I loved and valued this part of myself and didn’t think there was anything that wrong with it. Until it started depleting me, and draining me of any energy I could possibly have for myself. So much so, that I got to the point where I lived each day more for others than for myself. This was not unconditional love nor was it caring for others- this was self-destruction at its finest.
After learning at length about personality types and ‘how we can accommodate our needs in the best way possible for our specific personality type’, I started to choose myself. I started saying NO more frequently to others and YES to myself, which surprisingly took a lot of discipline. I couldn’t have guessed that it would be so hard to put myself first, but it was. Especially because my ‘comfort zone’ and 'go-to-behavior' was to be there for others at all times and at any cost.
The worst part about this process was when people I loved started getting disappointed in me for saying no, generally upset that I am not meeting their overall expectations of who I am supposed to be for them, or misinterpreting my behavior as “selfish”. In those moments, I had a hard time remembering what this was all for? “Can it really be true that I will lose friends just by putting myself first?”
Nevertheless, I stuck to my discipline despite the difficulties and practiced the rigorous art of saying yes to me, first, because I knew deep down If I can say yes to me first, I can only at that point be of any value to the world around me and the people in it. Unfortunately, what resulted in this was a lot of people disappearing from my life.
If only there had been a billboard sized label saying
How odd I found this whole thing! To be a ‘socially busy’, self-destructive (albeit fun and funny) friend is much more desirable than a self-loving, stable and mindfully healthy one. Hm. The math truly doesn’t add up for me.
But there is a light at the end of the tunnel: The more you put yourself and your needs first, the less you need or crave to be around others, such that you end up being around others when you really want it, and the people you choose to be around are people you truly love and that truly love you back. Most importantly, the more you choose yourself, the more able you are to truly be a substantial person to and for others. If only we all practiced a bit more self-love.
I ask myself what is the life lesson (because that is always something I ask myself for each and every experience)- it is to choose yourself anyways because the reward is not only a deeper awareness and appreciation for your own self, but also, a seeding out (although perhaps painful) of those that didn’t love you unconditionally anyhow! To all the secret introverts acting as 'giving extroverts' in society- pull the reigns in my dears! Pull the reigns in. It might be a slap in the face of reality at first but like I always say, no mud, no lotus.