I like to think of my life in 2 halves: B.T. and A.T; B.T. being “Before Thirty” and A.T. being “After Thirty.” B.T. I was a people pleaser. I constantly worried about what people thought of me and how my image was perceived to others. This went on for 29 years and 364 days, and then I turned 30 years old. On this magical birth year, something in my brain just changed. It’s not that I stopped caring about things per se, but all of the sudden I started to give way less f*cks about other peoples’ opinions. What I started to realize was when I was being true to myself and not trying to people please, I became more of a genuine, and therefore more likable person.
Imagine your friend was trying on a dress that was not flattering to her figure and she asked you, “Does this dress make me look fat?” By being honest and telling her the dress doesn’t look good may sting in the moment, but think about it in the long term. If she saw herself in an Instagram photo days later she would have been embarrassed and wondered why you told her it looked great on her when it clearly did not! People pleasing may feel good in the moment, but in reality you are not doing yourself or the people you are pleasing any favors.
An example of my personal journey with people-pleasing is with my job as a full-time group exercise instructor. I used to feel the need to teach a ton of classes a week to seem like a top-notch employee. I would teach multiple classes a day, starting every morning during the week at 6/6:30 am, and my last classes wouldn’t end until 7:30 pm. I also taught back to back classes on the weekends and tried to help people out by subbing as much as possible whenever I could fit it into my schedule. In my head, I was hoping my bosses and my students were taking note of how hard-working and dedicated I was. I also had this notion in my head that the more I worked, the more successful I was. On the outside, I looked like a power-house energy machine, but the real truth was, I was completely and utterly exhausted. My body ached every day, my skin was drab, my menstrual cycle was non-existant, I was single AF, and had a lackluster social life. This went on for YEARS, until on my 30th birthday I was in Aruba with my family feeling relaxed as ever and I realized you always have a choice in life. All I needed to do was just decide. I didn’t have to have to go back home and have a terrible schedule anymore. I was 30 now, most of my friends were married and some of them even had kids. These were things I too hoped to do one day, but the fact I was too exhausted all of the time to even date was a road block for me to meet someone.
Shortly after my 30th birthday I quit teaching on the weekends and my social life slowly started to pick up. I met my current boyfriend, and from the third date on we started traveling on the weekends which was freaking glorious because I didn’t have to worry about work. In time, I realized, yes I was feeling better, but my health still wasn’t at its full potential. I was still teaching 18-20 classes Mondays-Fridays and juggling clients in between. Over time I started to consolidate my schedule. I was not teaching as early everyday. My sleeping habits went from 5-6 hours a night to 7-9. My skin improved, my energy improved, and guess what? My classes got even better because I was more energetic and excited to be teaching. I felt more professional than ever knowing that I was taking care of myself first. Within this same time period, I also got recognized as one of MoveWith’s top instructors, and got raises at both of my jobs. Clearly other people were not seeing me as less professional.
“The difference between successful people and really successful people, is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”- Warren Buffet
My point is this, people pleasers put everyone else’s happiness before their own, and though they think they are doing good for others, they are just harming themselves. Saying “no” to things may sound scary at first, but in the end, people will respect you even more when you are true to yourself and you will be a happier person. When I was concerned with everyone else’s opinion of me I was over-worked, tired and lonely. Once I let that go and created a work schedule which made me happy, I found an amazing partner, I felt better physically and mentally, and I ended up making more money than I ever did before. Here are a few tips to help you end your people-pleasing ways: