I have about two chapters left before I type "The End" on the second novel in my new series. The first one, Paper Hearts releases early next year and this one, the one I'm <thisclose> to finishing releases a year later. Feels like a long time, doesn't it?
In this novel, and this happened quite by accident, my heroine is a people pleaser. She doesn't rock the boat. She likes when people like her. She does what she's expected. She becomes who other people want her to be. She forsakes her own dreams to make other people's dreams come true.
And she is miserable for it.
Guess where I got the idea for that character?
Yes, I am a recovering people pleaser.
I don't like it when people are upset with me--justified or not. I don't like conflict. I dwell. I stew. I think about injustices and develop defense strategies in my head for battles I'm not really fighting. It's a terrible way to spend your time, really.
I've learned, this year more than ever, that everyone has an opinion. Everyone has something to say about your choices, your vision, your goals, your dreams...have you ever noticed that? There are loud, loud people in the stands of your life, heckling you, challenging you, telling you all the reasons why something you're dreaming of can never, ever be.
And the crazy thing is, we listen to them! We listen to the critics, to the naysayers, to the ugly, ugly things they say--they get in our heads. We believe them. We think "They're right, this dream is stupid. Who am I to think I can start a business? Write a book? Go back to school? Change careers? Become a stay at home mom? Lose twenty pounds?"
Who am I to think there's something more for me out there than re-living the same day over and over and over again?
Who am I to want to make a difference? Who am I to want to change? Who am I to think I get to have a voice?"
Well, guess what. This year I've learned something about all those ridiculous questions the critics put in to our minds. I've learned that I am no one. On my own, I certainly do not have one ounce of anything good to offer.
Those people, the ones who call up the questions that haunt you in the middle of the night...the ones who are nice to your face but drag your name through the mud behind your back...the ones who make that face at the mention of your dreams...
Let's talk about them. These people you're trying so hard to please.
1. Are they out there pursuing their dreams? Are they fighting their own battles? Their own demons? Or are they sitting on the sidelines, eating popcorn, cozy and comfortable, watching everyone else go after what seems impossible, content to only comment on how everyone else is doing it wrong? How they disagree? How they could do it better...?
Because if they aren't out there fighting, if they're merely spectating...they don't get a say. They have no frame of reference, so why do they get to contribute to the conversation that influences your decisions?
2. Are they for you? I mean, really, one of the biggest "rules" (I think) of dreaming big is that you have to be very careful who you tell your dreams to. And then, when you're ready to tell that dream to the world, you have to be very careful not to allow yourself to listen to anyone but the people who really are invested in your life for the right reasons.
Because if they aren't a part of your story, if they aren't committed to helping you live this thing out the best you can...they don't get a say. Again, they have no frame of reference. They don't know the dreams God's given you, so how can they possibly be a part of the conversation?
3. Does their opinion really matter? Sometimes Adam will ask me this when I start to worry about this stuff. But what I've learned is that I have an opinion too. I mean, I spend all this time worrying what other people think and then it dawns on me...but what about what I think?
What do I think/believe/value/want? Don't those things matter? When you're busy pleasing people, they sure don't.
Friends. I am not willing to sacrifice God's will to make someone else "understand." I am not willing to explain every decision or dream or goal God plunks down in my heart just because someone doesn't "get it" or questions it for whatever reason.
People can disagree or spout of opinions or talk negatively or try to make you feel small...
But what they think of you is none of your business.
You don't serve them.
A friend of mine shared a quote with me that has just completely changed my outlook on this whole topic. Maybe it'll stick to your bones the way it has stuck to mine:
"You cannot please everyone all the time. In fact, if you can, you should worry about your integrity."
Today, my prayer is that I can stay focused only on God's opinion of me, cling to those poeple who are for me and let everything else fall away. Too many voices clog my mind anyway. I am only concerned with the ones that matter.