I always spend a lot of time thinking about life and my goals and why things are the way they are. Why I act the way I act or do the things I do? Driving home tonight, I was listening to the Titus Podcast, as I do pretty much every Friday night, and tonight they were talking about reaching your goals and chasing your dream. Not a hard topic for me to get into, especially when it’s framed in a dark snarky way, as is everything Titus talks about. (If you’re not familiar with Titus comedy please click here and educate yourself.) However, one specific thing stood out to me tonight. Rachel started talking about how she used fitness to distract herself from what she was really supposed to be doing with her life, in fact, they were all talking about how when you know what your dreams are and you decide to chase them, so many other things seem to gain importance and just become distractions on your path to your own personal success.
That got me thinking.
I like helping people. I like making a difference in people’s lives. Despite my awkwardness and super shy behavior, I like being around people and impacting their lives. Everything that makes me the happiest is rooted in people. I wanted to be a teacher growing up (still do) because I wanted to be the kind of teacher that changed kids’ lives like many of my teachers did. When I got into journalism, it was because I wanted to share people’s stories. Real people’s stories. Towards the end of college, people started asking why I didn’t pursue college counseling because I find real joy in helping students create education plans.
I like helping people, but with that, and over time, has come an unhealthy need to fix everyone’s problems. Anything that goes wrong, that I’m even remotely connected to, I feel the responsibility to fix it. That’s a big part of why last year came out the way it did.
Now mix together wanting to help people and needing to fix everything, bake for a couple of decades and you have a person who has a really hard time ever putting themselves first…for anything. If someone needs a ride somewhere, or help on an essay, or someone to talk to, or X, Y, and Z. I will usually drop everything to get it done. 90% of the time I do whatever it takes to be whatever I think the world needs me to be for them, yet, I can rarely find the time to be what I need to be for myself.
After I finished listening to the Titus Podcast tonight I started thinking about how much I help others and how often that help means putting myself second… or last.
My entire life, I’ve known I’m a writer. My entire life I’ve wanted to be a professional writer and even told myself I would have a book written by the time I graduated college. I’ve done nothing with that. I’ve never even really truly started a book. I’ve had blogs over the years, including this one, that I started with the full intention of making great and eventually they just become a half ass chore that I do because I said I would, but have stopped putting my heart into (so far this one is going strong, with only a few wavering months here and there).
I’ve told myself for nearly 5 years now that I want to design shirts. Made literally one design. ONE.
After the podcast tonight I started thinking that maybe, despite the initial joy I do get from being there for others, I allow myself to take it too far and turn it into a guilt situation because then I can easily let it distract me. If I’m spending all this time helping others, because my gut tells me it’s my responsibility then I won’t have time to think about all the other things I’m not doing. If I have to take care of others and that takes up all my time, then it’s not my fault that I don’t have time to do what my soul says I need to do.
I’m not saying I’m going to ever stop helping others because it does bring me joy, but I do think one of the things I need to start working on this year is realizing that I don’t need to be there for everyone all the time. I need to realize that it’s not my job to fix everything, right now. I need to work on letting it be ok to put myself first and sometimes saying no, or at least not right now.
I know me and this is going to be hard. And I’ll be honest with myself, this is probably going to take longer to change than I’d like. The one thing I can start doing now though is telling myself that I deserve to be helped too and that I deserve time; that I am important too and that my goals matter. I can continue to still be there for others, but I also have to start making sure that I’m there for myself as well.
I apologize if this was random and unfocused. This was just something that came to mind on my drive home that I didn’t want to waste. It was a literal brain dump.