So Why The Heck Do I Still Do It?

I'm a big girl now. Old enough to know that not everyone is going to like me, and I'm sure as hell not going to make them all happy. For some reason, I would persist in attempting this impossible, unachievable feat anyway. Like some simpering adolescent I remain desperate for approval; anyone's approval will do, even if you don't know me, couldn't possibly identify with me or what I'm about. If I ruffle feathers I will bend over backwards to soothe them again. I apologize even when it's not my fault.

I can see myself doing it, as though I am having some warped out of body experience, and the tiny, frequently ignored voice in my head shouts for me to grow a damn backbone and stand up for myself. Stop trying to make those folk happy who will never be happy. But a creased brow or an obnoxious glare crumbles my resolve and like some sort of elastic band I snap back to people pleasing again. And well, damn. It's just easier to make them happy, isn't it? Just to avoid the stink-eye or the frown of disapproval? 

But that's the easy way out. Because the one person I fail to please is me. There's no genuine pleasure in the knowledge that someone might like me superficially, because that's all I'm giving away in my attempt to please. It's not actually the real me, but a chameleon that excels in changing its skin to reflect whatever the social situation requires of it.

I can't lie and say that it doesn't bother me that she doesn't like me, or that I have failed to make him happy. But I maintain the hope that in time, my soft spine will grow a little stronger, and my skin just a little bit thicker.
Littlebrownbat Littlebrownbat
31-35, F
2 Responses Jul 13, 2010

Thanks very much for your comments. I've been succumbing to this a lot more recently so your reply brought me back to this post, and reminded me that I need to look at it again.

You've written eloquently about this experience. I don't experience this problem quite as badly as I once did, but there is still that part of me who longs for approval -- sometimes, like you said, from anyone, even if I may not ever see them again. Being a customer service representative is a great way for me to get this feeling worked out of my system.<br />
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You write about pleasing everyone but yourself. In my case, a lack of self-esteem is usually the culprit in this behavior. I can't make myself totally happy anyway, so why not do it for someone else? Also, it somehow feels more productive, and less selfish, to do things for other people that to spend an overabundance of time looking after my own needs. Like anything else, looking after yourself first takes practice. Thank-you for sharing your experience on this subject.