I used to think that the true picture of success was being able to juggle tons of things at the same time. To be that person who everyone relied on to get things done. To feel needed and special was my goal until it went horribly wrong.
No one ever had to set goals for me. I set a very high bar for myself, I always have now that I think about it. I am the first born. I felt the pressure to set an example, to follow the rules, to never falter. When my tasks weren’t enough to keep me busy I would seek out the work of others who appeared to be struggling and ask to lend a helping hand. And when that wasn’t enough I’d feel compelled to point out to people who were perfectly content with the living of their lives how they could be better, do more until one day I had to face myself and ask the question…
“Why do people only seem to want me around when they want me to do things for them?”
I’ve spent many a night crying over why I feel so out of place in this world. I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong. I just wanted to be helpful and feel loved and appreciated in return, right?
There’s no feeling quite like getting a call from someone you thought was your friend asking you go come over only to discover that they want you to do some work they were supposed to do so that they can go hang out with the rest of “your” friends. You realize you are the “reliable friend” not the friend they call when they want to have fun and hang out.
I had to learn a very hard lesson. You can love people, but you can’t allow them to twist that love of into a tool for controlling and abusing you.
I have a responsibility to protect myself from abusive relationships. And to be clear, abuse isn’t limited to the physical assault we first think of when we see that word. Abuse can manifest in many other ways.
Like the friend who always calls you complaining about their problems but never has time to listen to you.
Like the friend who calls you names and berates you calling it tough love.
Like the friend who makes plans to go out with you and stands you up without so much as an apology.
Like the friend you always bend over backwards to visit who can never seem to find the time to come visit you, but affords themselves the ability to take lots of other trips to places s/he wants to go.
Or the friend you confide your deepest confidences in and who you drop everything to be there for who constantly downplays your relationship and floods social media with pics of them and their “real BFF’s” who never seem to be around for that friend the way you are during times of crisis.
I’ve learned to evaluate my “friendships” constantly to look for signs that perhaps I am more deeply invested in the relationship than the other person so that I can act accordingly. I have also had to accept that some people who I still care deeply for simply do not feel a compelling need to make time for me in their lives. There can be many reasons for that and not all of them are awful. We grow, we change, that’s life.
It’s important NOT to internalize those life changes as personal rejections. If you do, it can leave you burdened down with a constant and crushing sense of failure. There are far too many beautiful things in the world to succumb to that darkness.
I am better now that I’ve changed my view of success. I don’t have to, nor could I ever truly be everything to everyone. I work hard to uncover the things that bring me joy and to invest myself with the people in this world who do see me as a priority in their lives. As for everyone else, well, as time and the Lord allow, I serve as I am able. But at this stage, in this season, I joy in the freedom of MY pursuit of happiness. That is my greatest success to date.
~ Marta C. Youngblood