About two weeks ago, I came to the realisation that being a recovering people pleaser may be somewhat like being a recovering alcoholic – I may forever be in recovery.
It was 2 days before I launched the Countdown to JEXIT, and every time I thought about it, I felt nervous. I couldn’t for the life of me understand why. I mean, I wanted to go, I was dying to go, me couldn wait fi lef! So why the nerves at the thought of submitting my resignation? That morning, 2 days before the Countdown began, I talked to God about it during my devotions because it was extremely puzzling to me and I didn’t like it. I asked Him to help me get to the root of the feeling so that I could address it and get rid of it. Later that morning while I was Whatsapping with a friend, I got a brainwave. We were having a casual conversation about JEXIT’s impending arrival and it just hit me.
I genuinely didn’t care about how the “boss” would take it but the nerves came when I thought about telling the girl who lives here that I was leaving. This girl and I aren’t close friends by any stretch of the imagination, but I think we have developed a healthy respect for each other. Every now and then she asks for my advice on things (nothing too personal, usually things relating to how to deal with people) and we have a warmly cordial relationship. While talking to my friend on Whatsapp, it came to me that the nerves were there because I didn’t want her to be disappointed in me that I was leaving early. In other words, I wanted to please her. Even though she had annoyed me a couple days before, I know that she is a good person at heart who was following the “boss’s” orders, and I didn’t want her to feel that I was letting her down.
It was then that it hit me that I’m like a recovering alcoholic. You see, I had thought that I was over being a people pleaser. Most days, I honestly don’t care what people think of me. But then there are times when it sneaks up on me unawares – the desire to make people like me or to make them not dislike me or to make them think well of me. It’s always with people who I want to like me; it’s never with people I can’t stand or don’t care for one way or another – with them, I couldn’t care less what they think of me, like the “boss” or the lazy guy that used to work here (the one who quit the week before I did).
I think that a part of my nerves also came from the reasons why I’m leaving early. I have a deep dislike for the very organisation that has given her an opportunity for a better life. I also have a serious case of contempt for the person who runs it, who I know she’s pretty close to. So, basically, I’m leaving early because I can’t stand her home and her friend. Those aren’t reasons I can share with her, because as much as I’m not consciously into people pleasing anymore, I am also not into being harsh and offensive to people who can’t take that kind of feedback, whether it’s given euphemistically or directly; I think it’s basic human decency. Telling her, “The place is stomach-turningly filthy, I can’t stand 1 more roach, it’s disgusting that rats bigger than bunnies live here, your friend the “boss” is a raging lunatic, and I abhor the thought of celebrating Christmas and New Year’s here,” would be like kicking a puppy over and over and over again. It would be wrong on every level.
Anyway, aside from all that, the point is that at the root of my fear was a desire to please this girl and that was not cool. The good news is that a sense of calm came over me when I got the revelation of what my problem was. The nervousness disappeared and every time thereafter that I thought about it, the nervousness didn’t come back.
The morning of the Countdown kickoff came and I was surprised to find that it wasn’t the first thought on my mind when I awoke. I got up, got my day started, and by 8:30 am I had done what I had to do with minimal fuss and no drama. But I’m glad that I had that epiphany a few days before so that now I can be vigilant and keep on the lookout for my old people pleasing compulsion trying to rear its ugly head.
I don’t want to be a people pleaser, even unconsciously. I want to be a God pleaser all the way through, so that’s what I’m working on right now.
“I am not trying to please people. I want to please God. Do you think I am trying to please people? If I were doing that, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10