Reminder to Self and Reminder to You

Be brave. Do it scared. Refer to the sections “Scary, Scary, Scary” (page 12), “Defending Your Weakness” (page 16), “Fear Is Boring” (page 19), “The Fear You Need and the Fear You Don’t Need” (page 22), and “The Road Trip” (page 24) in Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Over-Achiever, People-Pleaser

Original Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

I’ve been talking a lot about Kate Northrup and for good reason. Her latest book Do Less gives people permission to stop doing everything to prove their worth, and as an over-achiever and people-pleaser like the title of this post suggests, I needed this book and that permission. I started my dive into the work around this book back in March when Kate made freebies available for her course Make Time for Business. It revolved around those same principles, at least from what I could tell from the freebies. She talks about time being linear and circular, people either operating in twenty-four-hour cycles or roughly twenty-eight-day cycles (menstrual cycle and the lunar cycle), and how we should align our tasks with these cycles and our energy. She makes the excellent point that the moon affects tides and water, and humans are 80% water, so it’s not far-fetched to think that the moon affects humans—the first case for using cycles to plan. The second case being toward the menstrual cycle instead of the phases of the moon—anyone who’s studied hormones and the human body knows that hormones are king (or queen) in the body. They affect everything, and the menstrual cycle is dictated by different fluctuations of hormones at different times. Therefore, this, too, is not far-fetched thinking.

While I love Kate Northrup and Do Less (and Money: A Love Story), that is not the point of this post. I mean, it is, but not entirely. The effect of Do Less on me is the point of this post. That permission allowed me to step back from things that I didn’t enjoy doing and that I didn’t have to do. That ended up being extracurricular activities for me, so I resigned from my position as treasurer and IT director for the Louisiana Association of Student Nurses, president of Nicholls Association of Student Nurses, and vice-president of Colonels for Life. None of these organizations are terrible. They’re not tyrannical dictator groups that make you a slave to them. I would still recommend that anyone who thinks they want to participate in these organizations do so. I was doing them for the wrong reasons. My biggest reasons to do them were because I thought I “should”, to earn cords for graduation, and to have an impressive resume/impress people in general. The events we did felt good to do. We did community service activities. But I would dread every event and meeting. They became more things I had to do. I thought about quitting several times before. Each time felt so exciting and relieving, but I felt guilty. I felt that I had to finish my commitment or that the truly wonderful people I worked with would think less of me. Again, all reasons not to do something.

I titled this post "Over-Achiever, People-Pleaser" because as I finally sat with the decision of whether to quit, it was hard. I was crying because as much as I was excited about the relief, I was really scared of what the people I worked with would think of me, and Aaron was off work this day, and I was still in bed when I was making the decision, so he saw me crying and asked what was wrong, so I told him. A week or two before, I considered resigning from LASN when our then-president was trying to make the executive decision against the majority of the Board to not make a statement supporting Black Lives Matter, and Aaron said that I would have been a quitter if I would have done that. And I was pretty sure he was joking, but it still made me feel guilty and nervous, but the day I was in bed crying, pretty sure I had made my decision, he plain as day said (something along the lines of), "Well, quit. If you don't want to do it, quit. It doesn't matter," and he was picking on me and said, "Over-achiever, people-pleaser," and when he said that, I knew. I knew the right decision for me was to resign from my extracurricular activities.

Since making this decision and first writing this post, I've read Untamed by Glennon Doyle (Oh my gosh, one of the bests books ever. I think my new favorite book. I could sing its praises forever. I liked it so much.), and there's something she said in the book that she said to one of her kids that has stuck with me since I've read it, and I've even talked about a couple times with my family. One of her kids didn't want to join a club that her older brother wanted her to join because he did it, and she was talking to her mom, saying she didn't want to join the club but didn't want to disappoint her brother, and her mom (Glennon Doyle) told her that her one job in life is to disappoint everyone if it means not disappointing yourself, and that, too, just solidified my decision, and I love the serendipity of so many things really obviously related to one another happening all at the same time.

As far as waiting to finish my commitment, tomorrow isn’t promised. I shouldn’t wait to feel better. This is my life. I only get one chance, and I never know when it will be over. I won’t be on my death bed wishing I stayed in these organizations. I would be on my death bed wishing I made more time for things that made me happy, not doing things I thought I should do to make other people happy.

We’ve seen time and time again that young kids have got life figured out better than we adults do for the most part. Play is their work. They do things they enjoy and make time feel timeless. They enjoy themselves to the fullest and don’t let other people’s opinions and expectations dictate their choices until we condition them to do so. If I would have listened to my inner child or taken cues from myself when I was a child, I would have never joined these organizations. I didn’t do extracurricular activities until college when I thought that I had to in order to be a well-rounded individual, but while I do enjoy the paper chase of earning degrees in subjects I enjoy, being the most impressive in a career is not something I value. A career is a paycheck—something I’ll do that hopefully I’ll enjoy in order to feed myself and my future family and have shelter and running water, etc. And if I’m going to do something, I will do my best. But what’s most important to me is spending quality time with my family. I will go to work so that I can have a wonderful life with my family. If I could earn an income from caring for my family—if there was a paycheck for stay at home moms, I’d probably do it. Except for cooking and cleaning, I love running a household. I like making sure everyone is taken care of. I love grocery shopping. I love budgeting. I love running from point A to B to C. I love being with the people that I love, and extracurricular activities took time away from that for me and did not do much to move the needle forward in my life toward the things that matter to me. My family won’t love me less if I don’t do extracurricular activities. I won’t be undesirable as an employee because I’m not in extracurricular activities.

There’s something called the 80/20 rule. It’s been brought back to my consciousness by Kate Northrup, but I had heard about it before. I just didn’t know how to apply it until I read Kate Northrup’s book. The rule states that 80% of your results only come from 20% of your efforts. So by getting rid of extracurricular activities, I might be missing out on 20% of my results if even that.

If you need it, too, I give you permission to quit doing the things that you don’t love that you really don’t need to do. If you don’t need to do it but you love it, of course, keep doing it, but if any of what I said struck a chord with you, sit with that feeling and consider whether this might be the right option for you, too.


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