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Lusty Lady

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Friday, August 17, 2012

People pleasing vs. control freaking

I've been thinking a lot about people pleasing, which is a bad habit of mine I'm trying to break. At the same time, part of why I veer in that direction is that I'm afraid of being seen as a bitch, a control freak, a selfish brat. I'm not sure where the line is in between those, with making myself happy, which I know has to be a baseline before I can make anyone else happy, and demanding everyone around me bend to my will. My instinct is to retreat from people altogether, so that whatever I do won't affect them. I saw that divide fail fantastically two weeks ago, when I made what I thought was the right decision, but was so miserable I couldn't hide it. I also don't want to be so sure I'm right about everything that I discount other people's points of view, even when I don't like those people. I've been struggling with that too. I think part of why I have so many trips planned through the end of the year—Minnesota, DC, Dubai, Little Rock, Texas and Scottsdale, in particular (the Bay Area trip is a work trip)—is that I crave and need that freedom, that instinct to go wherever I want and not have to ask anyone's opinion or permission.

I'm grateful to see that I'm not the only one who owns up to people pleasing. Mandy Stadtmiller wrote a great piece at xoJane that I'm trying to embody, because I do often approach people, whether strangers or acquaintances, from a place of fear, from a place of feeling less than, and I think they can sense it. Her boss Jane Pratt admitted to it too. It's a tough habit to break when it's so deeply ingrained that you assume that whatever someone else thinks or wants you to do is automatically the better choice. I know I find myself barely even considering my own interests because I don't think they're valid, or if they are, they're weighted so poorly next to someone else's interests, they don't even count. Last year (which feels like many years ago!) I was in L.A. and was going to go to this Your Face Here Pop tART Gallery event; I had just read about it online and it seemed cool, and I was emailing with a friend of a friend who I was going to meet up with during my visit and he railed against the gallery and art stars and this whole scene I knew nothing about, and instead of checking it out for myself and seeing what I thought, I didn't go, in large part because he made it sound like only pretentious idiots would be into that. That's what I'm talking about.

It's a tension, undeniably, and I don't know how it'll play out in various areas of my life. I've been trying to push myself in new directions with my career, my travel, my thinking about a lot of things. I sometimes look back at where I was in January which was, in two words, a mess, and am so glad I have a little more control and groundedness, but some of that feels like it could slip away at any moment. Or rather, being mature and adult and just living with the not so pretty petty parts of life is a lot harder than whatever form of escapism I'm most drawn to on any given day. Sometimes, I don't know how to please myself, and that is probably the most frustrating thing for me of all. I know that the little things, like discovering the cheap and fast and easy public bus on Martha's Vineyard, made me feel at home, and I even discovered some Jawsfest attendees on the bus. I know that sitting in my favorite Brooklyn coffeeshop and randomly getting a card for a free drink makes me happy. I know that deciding to skip the Pussy Riot reading last night because I was exhausted and instead see Celeste and Jesse Forever made me happy. And I also know that every day is not all about making me happy, or at least, not about indulging, but I also know that the last few weekends have thrown me for a loop not so much because I spent money on things I didn't use, though that made me feel wasteful and ashamed, but because I felt like I was negating what I wanted to do in favor of what someone else wanted me to do. Hopefully there's a balance between those, but I think it's worth it to keep putting myself into unfamiliar and sometimes unnerving situations

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