There’s a point in your life, where you need to stand up and say, “enough is enough!”
I’ve reached that point.
I was born for more than just lying down and taking it. We all have choices to make and responsibilities to face. This is a fact of life and a good thing. No matter how scary it may seem at first, it becomes less scary or impossible the more you do it. It opens the door to more growth and opportunity. It allows you to develop your best traits and experience things than you ever did before. In time, you become better than you were before.
In time, I became happier, braver, and more dependable. When given the opportunity to grow, I did and I kept at it. People noticed this and I realize now that they liked and trusted me all the more because of it. What I did not realize at the time was that people can be really lazy. They don’t always want to put in the effort or deal with their problems so they try to put it all on me and make it my responsibility. In the past, I let them.
Why did I let them?
Because I wanted to help. Because I wanted to be useful. Because I equated usefulness with relationships.
I felt that if I wasn’t useful to them, no one would like me. I’m not certain where this came from, to be honest. It is true that I realized people could be incredibly selfish from a young age. It is true that I recognized people are also primarily self-interested (which is different from selfishness). I don’t think this idea came from that. Maybe it was because I was told that I was useless a lot when I was younger by someone close to me and I learned to link it with anger and dissatisfaction in relationships. Maybe it was because I was bullied a lot as a kid. Maybe it was because my self-esteem levels were below zero. Maybe it was all of these things? Either way, it doesn’t matter.
I learned in time, that there were some things only I could do and this applied to others as well. Logically, that meant that there were some things I couldn’t do. There were some issues I couldn’t help with. There is only so much any of us can do. Sometimes, it is important to take a step back mentally and emotionally in order to keep from accidentally becoming someone’s garbage can. They probably don’t mean to do this, most people don’t. However, that’s what happens and you’re the one who is going to feel exhausted from it.
By all means, take care of others. Encourage them. Share their burdens and let them share yours. Just remember to take care of yourself first. Otherwise, how can you help others if you can’t even help yourself?
I thought I learned this lesson, but I realize that there’s more I can learn. People have told me I’m way too nice. I try to help to the point that sometimes, people don’t do their own work. I become an enabler to their laziness. I realized this when I started working in retail. For a lot of people, there’s a disconnect for retail workers. They don’t see us as human so much as furniture, servants, garbage cans, and our company/company policy all rolled up in one. Their eyes skip over us in favor of more important things up until they need us for whatever reason.
(Of course, there are always those customers who are in need of encouragement, product advice, or someone to listen. There are always those customers who express their appreciation, respect the brand, and are civil human beings. There are always customers who listen to what you say and are perfectly decent about it. These customers are a joy to help and they made it all worth it for me.)
It was natural then that I learned to tell customers to use their phone to calculate the prices when there was a huge flood of them coming in during a big sale. I learned to show them where the signs were showing the changes in prices. I learned to be calm and say no even when customers started shouting at me or snapping at me or being demanding. I learned all of these things. In other words, that job made me level up only for me to discover there are more levels to be reached.
Me being me leaked into who I was as a retail worker, but being “The Retail Worker” version made it easier to be firm with others. It also taught me to be more passive-aggressive because I couldn’t be express it in any other way.
To be honest, I had to unlearn that and learn how to assert myself properly. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to communicate clearly with others. To do that, I had to learn to love who I am. To be honest, I’m still working on it. That’s why I started this project in the first place. I realized that I needed to do something, start something. That I couldn’t let things stay this way. I couldn’t lie to myself and say I didn’t have these issues. I couldn’t say that it wasn’t getting in the way of my goals.
That’s why I started this project. I deserved better than to degrade myself like that. I deserved better than to relegate myself to a side character in my own story. This is my story. I’m the main character. I’m the biggest source of change in my life. It’s my responsibility to make the right and ethical choices. It’s my responsibility to think things through. It’s my responsibility to take control of myself and my life.
I cannot and will not give that responsibility to someone else.
That would be the same as giving them control over me and the life I’ve chosen to live. I’m not going to let someone else control my life-are you kidding me? No! I’m not going to put up with that! I’ve had to deal with people who try to force their decisions on me. I don’t like it and there’s no way I’m going to jus-just yield to them and let them. Over my dead body. No, not even that. My ghost will refuse. Even if you paid me all the money in the world, it’s still a no. (See, this is why I’m not sugar baby/gold-digger material.) It’s not worth my freedom. I wanna be like, like a bird. I want to be free forever and ever and ever. I can’t do that if I yield to temptation. If I just give up.
In life, we are all going to make mistakes. We are all going to mess up. That is a part of the adventure that is life. What matters is that we stand back up. It’s not whether we mess up that matters, it’s how we deal with it. Do we reflect on ourselves, learn from it, and then stand back up? Or do we pitch a fit, try to assign blame to anything or anyone but ourselves, and keep repeating that mistake over and over? Do we keep trying or do we give up?
If I want to be free, I have to learn to recognize responsibility. I have to learn what is my responsibility and what is not. I have to learn to say: I can’t do that for you. I can’t solve all your problems for you. Of course, I’m there for you. I’ll do what I can to help. It doesn’t change the fact though, that you have to fix your problems yourself. You face them head on. Nobody can do that for you.
Trust in your ability to be able to get back up from this. You are more than you ever thought possible. We are made from stardust (no, seriously, we are. Google it). Our potential is overwhelming. Humans used to live out of caves, but now look at where we are! Look at how much we have advanced over the past few decades. It wasn’t just the greatest people in the world that did this. No one person or even a few people can do all that by themselves. They had to have had help from those around them. They had to have had help from those that touched their lives, even if it was for just a second. Our advancements are the culmination of thousands and thousands of ordinary people, touching each other’s lives from what amounts to seconds to many years.
The current world is full of conflicts and hard questions. That makes it a world of opportunity to do something right and good. Something that stands out because of how bright it is. There is more opportunity now than ever to speak up and stand up for yourself and your beliefs. To say, “enough is enough” or “I’m not going to put up with this.”
To take responsibility for yourself and your actions. To recognize that in doing so, you become more powerful than you were before. That your actions have meaning beyond the immediate consequences. You can be a force of positive, long lasting change.
You don’t have to change the world, you just need to change yours.
(Honestly, is it just me or is telling people they can change the world a lot of pressure? Like wow ok, thanks for dropping that on me. It’s not like I was only like six years old and yay tall, small enough to be blown away by the wind when you started telling me all this. Now I feel obligated to try to lower the light in your eyes, full of expectations that I’m not even fully aware of, so you don’t feel too disappointed with me.
… Ok maybe I’ve…I’ve got some issues to work out. Still, I think it’s a bit cheesy and way too much, you know? I know it’s meant to help you feel like you can do more, but really, you’re important and valid just by being you. You matter. So logically, wouldn’t that mean your world is also important and valid too? Doesn’t that mean your world matters too?
I’m not saying the world revolves around you (please don’t act like it does-I can’t stand it when people do that), but the fact that everyone and their worlds are also equally important and valid doesn’t lower the value of you and yours. Just saying.)