Being a teen is hard, you guys. It seems like every year I look back at the last one and cringe. Why did I think, say, do those things? Who in the world did I think I was? And of course when I do that, I learn a little lesson in humility that I can only pray will stick with me for the next day. I have a bad habit of taking myself too seriously, putting on a “mature” face so that people will respect me, and putting on my “prideful” suit so that way no one can hurt me. I’m afraid of being vulnerable, of revealing too much of my imperfect soul to those around me, and receiving criticism or a different point of view.
One of my greatest character deficiencies is definitely my need to please people. Hands-down, I am a “people-pleaser”. I won’t wear certain clothes around people I want to impress for fear of getting their disapproval. I’ll say certain things a certain way to make people I admire like me. I will bend my lifestyle if need be to get someone to take notice. At heart, I crave attention, and will do almost anything to get it.
This past year, this aspect of my character has hurt me so much, in so many ways. I wrapped myself up in an identity that wasn’t truly my own just to gain the respect and attention of someone who, at the time, I greatly respected. Then, when that friendship broke off, I found myself loathing all that I had identified myself with and had gotten so wrapped up in for so many months. I was sick of it, I couldn’t stand certain items of clothing, and various activities that were associated with my effort to please this person.
When this Spring rolled around, and I found myself free of those bonds, I went into a tail-spin. I would do everything everybody didn’t expect me to do. My heart and soul plummeted into something I had not known myself to be capable of. I would have days where I was completely rebellious against everyone and everything, and would collapse into an angry, upset mood. I reveled in it! I loved being so unexpected, so unpredictable. It felt so freeing from the identity that I had morphed myself into in the previous months. I knew how I was affecting my family was wrong, and I look back on those days with regret and confusion. They blur in my mind like a dark, foggy storm that I only know how to interpret as the explosion of my self-imposed time-bomb of “people pleasing”.
After one particularly difficult day of all this drama, I was huddled up into a little ball, sobbing, while I poured out my heart to my mom and dad, and tried to communicate what was going on. I praise the Lord that He has given me such understanding and wise parents! As we laid out all that was welled up in my heart, I realized just how much of my life and heart I had devoted to one single person, to please them and gain their respect-I was completely drained. I had lost myself, my identity, and I was floundering to find it again.
This Summer has been an incredible time of healing and letting myself be who I want to be, dress the way I want to dress, and rediscovering my independent, passionate spirit. The Lord gave me unique, distinct interests, passions, loves, and desires; and I am learning how I can express those outside of the boundaries of somebody else’s preferences.
As “people pleasers”, it can be so easy to put the blame on the person/people you are trying to impress. And sometimes somebody’s dominating or manipulating character can have a big impact. But I’m learning that if I am going to have a healthy relationship with anybody, I need to not set aside who I am. Healthy relationships are built upon mutual interest, not just one person giving way to the other. It’s an easy trap to fall into if your admiration or love for someone runs deep, but it’s one we must avoid at all costs if you don’t want the rug pulled out from under you later, like I had this past Spring.
This may sound petty, but it’s a current passion of mine that I want to share 🙂 With Brigid’s wedding coming up this Fall, and our girls’ singing schedule slowing down, I have decided to grow out my hair! Brigid and I have had our locks trimmed short pretty consistently for the past 2-3 years to provide ease of getting ready for our singing gigs while still looking era-appropriate; and I’ve decided that it’s time for a change. I am finding a balance between my love for vintage styles as well as modern fashions in my clothing and makeup, and growing out my hair is giving me so much more freedom of expression. I’ve always wanted to master an elegant up-do or a waterfall braid, and I am so excited to finally be giving myself a chance to try those out again after so many years of not being able to! It also gives me a chance to wear Lilla Rose Flexi Clips more, which is always a plus 🙂 It’s been the little things that I change in my lifestyle, like growing out my hair, wearing modern t-shirts, picking up piano again (after 3 years of not playing!), swiping on my favorite bright purple lipstick, that I find can be great healing balms and ways to rediscover who I am as an individual.
So here’s to the individuality that God has given each and everyone of us, and expressing that to the fullest!
Are you a people pleaser?
-Charlotte, the youngest sister