The Wrong Story

People pleaser.

If you’ve known me for a good amount of time, or read any of my blogs in the past, then you may have heard me refer to myself as that before. I see myself as someone who is a “recovering” people pleaser, but it’s still something that effects my day to day life in different ways. But part of the recovery process is being aware of my behavior, considering I was unaware for so long. If you are also a people pleaser, keep reading. This is for you. If you aren’t, you should also keep reading because you likely care about someone who is.

Something that I have come to realize that us people pleasers tend to do, is live other peoples lives. Have you ever gotten to a point in your life, or maybe in just a particular relationship or situation, and asked yourself “who’s life am I living?” I have. What I mean is the act of completely abandoning all sense of self in order to be fully present within someone else’s story. If you are an empath to any degree then you likely know what I am talking about as well.

Imagine two individual people in their own little bubbles floating through life together. Everything inside represents who they are in every way. They can fully engage with others in any way they would like to, while still being inside their own space and reality. Imagine one of those people steps outside of their own in order to be inside the other. Maybe the other person is going through some sort of crisis that effects them on a deeply emotional level. So in order to show them they really care, they abandon their own bubble and jump inside of theirs. But the only problem is that because they do it so often they eventually loose their own bubble. It floats away and can’t be found – resulting in them forgetting who they really are. This person is now living life hopping from one persons bubble to the next, looking for validation in who they are. But they will never find it until they get back to their own bubble.

This is a people pleaser.

This is who I have been off and on my entire life – getting so wrapped up into other peoples lives and stories that I literally forget how to live my own. Even in seasons where I’m not obsessing over other peoples lives, I can still find myself feeling like a stranger within my own. For me this can look like autopilot mode, and forgetting that a life is for living and not for just barely getting by. But I am learning that I can be happy because of how I am living my own life, and not because I am helping someone else live theirs. Read that again. You can be happy because of how you are living your own life, and not because you are helping someone else live theirs.

In September of 2022 I got a job as a lunch/recess monitor at an elementary school down the street from my house. Prior to this I was home with my kids for two years due to COVID and remote learning – and before that I ran a daycare out of my home for almost seven years. This was the first time I have ever had a job outside of my house since having children – kinda a big deal for me. It was nice to get out of the house and make some extra money, and it was convenient to have all the same vacations as my children. I grew to love the job more than I thought I would. My coworkers were amazing, I loved seeing the kids everyday, and there was something special/nostalgic about working in a school. However, I began to start taking notice of the paraprofessionals, and wondered what it would be like to work in a classroom and have the opportunity to help kids that needed extra attention and services. Because my own children have struggled in school, I see the importance of it all.

Why am I writing about this?

Deep in my heart I knew that was what I wanted to be doing, but it took me three months to convince myself to step outside my comfort zone and ask for what I wanted. It turns out that what I wanted wasn’t as out of reach as I thought it was. Inside MY bubble it actually did made sense. But I was too overwhelmed and mentally drained worrying about other peoples, to realize that I CAN start a career at 36 with no college degree, and it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else. Also, it’s hard being a mom right? We like to live inside our kids bubbles too don’t we? But we can still be good moms and be there for our children, while living a life that makes us happy and fulfilled. In fact, one of the best things we can do for our kids, is to show them what it looks like to follow our dreams and work hard for the things that make us happy. I’ve neglected to consider who I wanted to be outside of motherhood for YEARS, because I convinced myself that it would be selfish. But if motherhood has taught me anything, it’s that you can’t pour into your family if you aren’t filling yourself with the things that also give you life.

So what happened with my job situation? Long story short I am now a special ed preschool paraprofessional all because I took the time to think about who I really wanted to be and I went for it. I found my bubble again, and realized that it wasn’t selfish to take up space there. My self worth cannot be found in other peoples. And I don’t regret all the years I did home daycare, especially when my kids were toddlers and not in school. I only wish that I had given myself more space to dream in recent years. COVID, remote learning, and being home with no job of any kind for two years, was really difficult for me. But it also handed me this clean slate and forced me to start thinking for myself again. I needed to be reminded that my life is my story – one that I get to write.

The teacher I work with read a story to the class last week called “Goldilocks and the three dinosaurs”. It’s a very cute story that follows the same narrative as Goldilocks and the three bears. About half way through the story it’s clear that Goldilocks is confused because she thought she stumbled upon a house occupied by bears, when actually everything is huge and dinosaur sized. The story ends similarly to the original one, but at the very end there’s another page with this one sentence on it:

“And the moral is: If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave.”

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