I have a phobia level fear of bees. I don’t know if it’s the buzzing sound, the small fuzzy stripes, or the fact that a sting can really hurt – but I am absolutely terrified of bees. I want to keep explaining this fear but even typing about them makes me uncomfortable. I wasn’t kidding when I said phobia level.
Above that, though, for a long time, I’ve had another fear that has impacted a lot of my decisions, whether I realized it at the time or not. I am terrified of hurting or disappointing the people I care about.
That sounds pretty natural. Nobody wants to hurt the people they love and it isn’t like I ever intentionally set out to ruin a friend’s day, but it was always something in the back of my mind.
This goes further than just not wanting to let anyone down. This is an extreme desire to keep everyone else happy and comfortable – a desire that comes at the expense of myself.
People pleaser tendencies course through my veins like a life force. I’m much more content to bend my schedule and shift my focus so that everyone around me is happy and cared for.
I was reading a story the other day where I strongly identified with the main character. In the end, I knew the character was going to choose the path that everyone expected of her. It simply made sense and she was “happy enough.” But she had another option – she had an opportunity that made her heart race and her spirit soar. She was an entirely new person with presented with this other opportunity. But she couldn’t do it. She stuck with what she knew, what was familiar.
And it broke my heart. It broke my heart because in my own way, I was rooting against her. I could hear myself agreeing with the “expected” choice. It was justifiable and it was easier to do that than to rock the boat and upset anyone.
I thought about the story for a long time.
I like making people happy. I like being reliable and I like helping people out. I like taking on new challenges and being responsible and steadfast. But it can’t be at a disservice to myself anymore.
So maybe that’s it – maybe the thing that scares me more than bees is being able to live a life totally of my own creation. Maybe I’m terrified of what that would look like. Maybe I am so in tuned to the consequences my actions have on others that I never stop to notice what they are doing to me.
This isn’t to say I want to go rogue and completely neglect the thoughts or emotions of those who I care about most deeply. I just want to add myself to the list of people I consider in making a decision. I want to realize that the person it impacts the most should perhaps have a say in it.