Today’s NaBloPoMo Prompt: Do you think you maintain a good balance of making yourself happy while making other people happy?
If you had asked me this question one year ago, I would have laughed and said, “Making myself happy? What are you talking about?”
At the time, I was working in the mental health field, managing a group home that housed three young women, and desperately trying to make sure all their needs are met and their moods above average. I was swearing up and down to my parents that I was going to apply to graduate school and become a clinical social worker, not knowing if social work was actually the right fit for me. I was in an incredibly brief, ill-fated relationship with someone I really didn’t like to being with. I was also maintaining some semblance of a “friendship” with my ex-boyfriend because my friendship “meant a lot to him.” I was caught up in trying to please my family, while trying to please the med-school-drop-out-Napoleon-complex boyfriend, while trying to cater to the ex-boyfriend’s need for friendship (despite having a girlfriend), all while giving my job 110%. There wasn’t much left for me at the end of the day.
Between now and then, however, things have changed drastically. In February, I abandoned the pseudo-boyfriend because he demanded too much of my time. In March, I abandoned the ex-boyfriend and made the conscious decision to remove him from my life. In April, I let my family know that social wasn’t for me and I needed to find a good fit. In May, I decided to invest less of my energy into a job I no longer associated with my identity. In July, I abandoned the guilt that contributed to living with my family indefinitely and moved out. Things have been on the up and up ever since.
The process hasn’t been completely selfish. I love making others happy, but I now have an idea of what makes me happy as well. More than that, I know I’m worth the effort I put forth to make myself happy. And once I realized this and started acting accordingly, life changed in a big way. My initial warped thinking led me to believe that if I inspired happiness in others, I would be able to do the same for myself. That doesn’t work at all. People take and take if you’re always giving. At some point, you give yourself away and there’s nothing left.
Anyway, long story short, with some boundaries, increased self-esteem, and practice, I’ve come to maintain a better balance of making myself happy and making others happy as well. This is going to sound incredibly cliche, but if you don’t know what it takes to make yourself bare minimum happy, how can you make others happy?