Is anyone else a chronic people pleaser?
For my entire life I have struggled to inconvenience anyone. If any of my thoughts or opinions might cause someone trouble, I would swallow those words before they were spoken. As silly as it may sound, I never understood that there was any other way to live.
Just so that you understand how crippling this problem has been for me, let me take you back to my first few months of kindergarten. Yes, it goes that far back.
It was time for everyone to sit around the circle carpet for story time. As my fellow classmates were mesmerized at the pictures in the book, I was hit with the unexpected: I had a nose bleed. I remember contemplating what to do. Should I get up from the circle? No, I don’t want to distract me peers. Should I raise my hand and tell the teacher? No, I don’t want to bother her. Obviously now that seems absurd, but I sat there with blood running down my face and shirt for 5 minutes! When story time was over, my teacher had shock etched on her face. I vividly remember her telling me that it was silly to not tell her that I needed to get up, but I was so afraid of bothering her.
Flash forward to this week:
I was booked for 5 days on a blockbuster film. I am talking full costume/fitting and 15 hour days. Because my feet are larger than the average woman’s, wardrobe gave me men’s boots that were 2 sizes too big! Not only that, they were steel toed and extremely heavy. Of course I didn’t say anything, I didn’t want to bother them. They were here to do a job and who was I to make their day more difficult? The morning of our first day, I put on 3 pairs of socks and hoped for the best.
Around 3 hours into filming, my knee began to go out. The shoes were so heavy, that my knees physically couldn’t lift them. I told my fellow extras and I was met with the same response each time: YOU SHOULD TELL THEM! Though their words made perfect sense, that same small voice from my kindergarten days crept in and tried to tell me that my problem didn’t deserve attention.
8 stubborn hours later, after I began limping down the halls, I decided that little voice couldn’t win. I simply couldn’t physically wear these painful shoes for the next 75 hours. I went to the wardrobe department and explained the effect that the boots were having on my body. The response? “Oh, let’s see what else we have.” Within 3 minutes, I doting a brand new pair of boots that actually fit and didn’t carry any extra weight.
As the day went on, I couldn’t help but reflect on how silly my thought process had been the entire day. For some reason, I thought that my needs weren’t important and that they didn’t deserve to be heard. I had convinced myself that I needed to be professional, to the point of torturing myself! Yes, the wardrobe team is there to do a job, but so was I. I needed better shoes to do my job well.
At the end of the day, what I took away from this experience is that people can’t read your mind. The people surrounding you can’t help you if they don’t know that anything is wrong. You can choose to painfully suffer, or you speak up and ask for what you need.
I wish I had spoken up sooner about those darn boots, but hey, I spoke up! Everything in life is a process and we should count every step forward as a win.
In what areas of your life should you be utilizing your voice?
What can you do today to let yourself be heard?