Did you see her Snap story?
Did you hear who she was hanging out with Saturday?
Since being in high school I was always so worried what other people said about me. I feared being judged and excluded over what I would do and post or who I was friends with, so on and so on. It wasn’t until earlier this year that I really grasped the concept of doing things for myself and not caring what others said. I’m not talking about being rude or gross and saying “Too bad, that’s just me.” I’m saying that I tried to stop following the crowd when it was headed in the wrong direction and I stopped pretending to care about stuff that really wasn’t that important.
Being a “people pleaser” is a huge issue and teens don’t just struggle with this…even adults do. It’s a want and need to please others, feel accepted and go to huge lengths just to be liked by others. It usually means giving up our own identity in favor of what is popular or expected and that’s not usually a good thing as a teenager. Let’s just say a lot of what is considered acceptable by kids my age isn’t usually good for us.
Recently I have started to do things just for myself without needing the approval of anyone else, including this blog! In recent months instead of being so attached to my phone and watching what everyone else was doing, I’ve started journaling, painting, taking photos and singing just for my own self enjoyment. I stopped apologizing constantly for normal stuff like sharing my opinion and I’ve tried really hard not to let people get to me when they think it’s funny to embarrass me or someone else I know and love because we aren’t doing what everyone else is doing.
I’ve even changed up my style. I find myself shopping saying to myself, “Is this what the rest of the world expects me to wear, or do I actually like this?” because that was one of the things I struggled with even at a younger age. I always wanted to look like everyone else and be complimented except the problem was shopping for clothes at all the “cool” places was conflicting with what my mama thought was appropriate for me to wear! So let’s just say it was a constant battle of “you are not walking out of the house in that!!”
Now I understand more of why she told me that and I have embraced my own style which is a little more….ummmm…..”conservative” than in the past. I still get to wear what I like and those fights don’t happen anymore. It’s actually funny because I noticed that I get more compliments now on more appropriate clothing choices than I did when I was wearing stuff that caused big fights with my parents. Who knew?
Another major thing I have recently realized is that I used to post VSCO and Instagram pictures, tweets, Snapchat stories, and Facebook statuses just for likes or favorites; I wasn’t posting them for my own enjoyment. I would spend so much time making sure I was happy with how I looked and I would agonize after posting a photo that no matter what I never looked good or I sounded stupid. Black and white got a little gray sometimes and I know there were things I should not have posted. Now when I share anything, it’s pictures/updates of things I enjoy doing, happy memories or with people I enjoy being with. I’m NOT perfect with every post….I still have weak moments and wonder later if I should have done it but aren’t we all a work in progress? I do try to post things that make me happy and I also don’t spend hours anymore obsessing over who likes it or didn’t. If people don’t like what I post they can scroll past it or unfollow me!
And listen, we all have found ourselves either judging others or being judged and realizing that has really helped me to watch myself better. We can’t possibly know what motivates someone when they are friends or not friends with someone, they post a certain photo or tweet something, or break up with a boy or girlfriend, etc. without really knowing the person and situation. We are all still learning so I have made an effort to be more encouraging instead of judgemental.
To be honest, it has been hard for me to stop being a people pleaser but now I have made an effort to be more aware when I start to fall back into that mindset (and it helps to have family/friends hold you accountable). I pray about it, too and that really helps. Personally I want to be free to live life the way I want to in a respectful way that helps other people feel better instead of worse about themselves. It can be lonely at times not “fitting in” by doing things it seems like everyone else is doing but in the long run it’s worth it. Life is hard. It hurts sometimes and we really do need each other to be more encouraging.
I am far from perfect but I’m learning that life has a lot more to offer than shallow conversations and being petty. You should never have to pretend to be someone you aren’t or beg another person for attention…you are way too valuable for that. I am trying to practice being more genuine and vulnerable and in this process I’m learning who my real friends are, too. No more wasting time with people who don’t really want me in their lives for the right reasons.
So I encourage you to put down your cell phone, live in the moment and go have fun with friends being real and doing what you know is right for you to do. I heard a really cool quote one time that went something like this:
Are you truly happy or do you just want people to think you’re happy?
That really hit me hard because let’s face it, why are we doing some of the things we do especially if we know they aren’t good for us? Let’s stop putting on a show just so other people accept us. It’s crazy to think that just a few small choices we make in life could completely change everything and we will be happier and not so stressed out.