Your twenties are a peculiar time in your life. It's the time you may or may not be still living with your parents, graduating from college, getting your first big girl job, etc. While you're trying to figure yourself out, you will come across people who are also on their own journey of self-discovery. They are either there to inspire and uplift or to teach you a tough lesson. People come into your life at different seasons and in those different seasons are distinct lessons to learn.
Throughout my life, I sometimes found myself becoming a people pleaser. I wanted little to no confrontation, everyone to like me, and everything to go perfectly. Obviously, this isn't realistic nor is it healthy. I had to develop my emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is defined as, "the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically." The side effect of being a people pleaser is exerting a tremendous amount of energy to maintain the façade of this non-confrontational, easy going sweet girl that can get along with anyone. Not every disagreement is a confrontation. Speak up for yourself.
I needed to learn self-love and how to be more compassionate with myself. I needed to learn to take up space and not shrink myself for anyone. I’m not meant for everyone and everyone isn’t meant for me. I needed to learn that “no” is a complete sentence. The burden often falls on the shoulders of women to exert a great deal of emotional labor to spare the feelings of those around them. As a black woman, I didn't want to be seen as difficult, hard to work with, or angry if I spoke up for myself. I was scared of how those around me would receive me.
As I'm getting older, I'm realizing what others think of me isn't my business. Authenticity can take you a long way. My early twenties were spent dimming my light, comparing my journey to those around me, and worried that if I truly showed others who I was that meant they wouldn't want to be around me, therefore, I stepped out of my light and fell off my path. I didn't want to feel vulnerable or susceptible to what I deemed as criticism. I felt undeserving of love.
"You can be a thousand different women. It's your choice which one you want to be. It's about freedom and sovereignty. You celebrate who you are. You say, ‘this is my kingdom." — Salma Hayek
I learned I needed to protect my peace and you have to teach others how to treat you. It was necessary to find the balance of not being a people pleaser and being assertive about my needs. I finally realized I was allowed to be who I am. I'm not monolithic nor do I have a single purpose. I don’t have to please those around me. If someone didn't approve of what I did, who cares? I'm still battling depression and anxiety and that's something I know I will deal with for a long time, but it becomes easier to cope when I allow myself the same empathy and care I give others.