Do you always look out for affirmations from others so that you can be happy? Well, you are not alone. Last year, I compiled a book called Diary of a People Pleaser. I always felt like wearing a mask so as to be what the person in front of me wants me to be. I pretended to be a completely different person all the time. I thought I would find happiness in being the person others wanted me to be and that in the process, I would also make them happy. But I was wrong. Conforming to other’s expectations or ideas takes away your freedom. It stops you from becoming who you are and you can only be the best version of yourself when you are honest and real.
When I was pretending to be someone I was not, I had to keep up the ruse endlessly so as to fulfill other’s expectations of me. But this made me sad and stressed. I grew up having Daddy issues and that is why I always looked for the acceptance and love from others that I did not get from my Dad. I never felt that my Dad loved me and this drove me into putting on a mask. But my true self was still inside me, buried there somewhere, waiting to come out and express itself. It’s true that over the years my own personality hid itself in some dark corner due to people’ endless expectations, my thoughts about keeping them pleased and conforming to other’s opinions. As a kid, I drew inaccurate conclusions which over time became my beliefs as to who I am. But it was all a façade and I had to find my own self in order to be happy and satisfied. I had to unlearn all those things I presumed to be true but were not and I had to return to myself by remembering who I truly was before any of this started.
What truly woke me up from this was the loss of my mother. It’s from that singular loss that I traced by way back to my original self. Being a people pleaser for so many years made me reflect upon the idea of self-acceptance. I learnt that I cannot be anyone unless I truly learn to accept myself for who I am. I learnt to stop worrying about pleasing others and all I wanted was to get in touch with my inner identity. I had to find that one thing which would give peace to my soul so that I can focus on being happy. I realized that I am my biggest commitment and that I had to start working on every aspect of my being, starting from my flaws to my vulnerability.
When I started being myself, I fathomed out that life can be so fulfilling only if someone can be themselves at all times. And if you toss the idea in your mind, you will see that there is nothing that can actually stop you from being you. The only barrier that stands between you and your true self is you and your preconceived notions about your identity. Break that barrier and see how your life unfolds to become something completely different and beautiful. Listen to your own voice and do what you truly want to do, because no matter what, the earth will keep spinning and people will keep judging you.
We all experience bad days or even weeks from time to time. The thing that I have learned over the course of these years is that no matter how perfect you aspire to be, you cannot please everyone at once. So, why not please yourself instead? Do things for yourself. Invest your precious time in yourself. Of course, it won’t happen in a day but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are working towards it. Self-acceptance is the first step towards self-improvement. I learnt not to hesitate facing the real me which remained buried for so many years. And when I did face it, I learn to see the world from a whole new beautiful perspective. I finally saw that I had been criticizing myself way too much over the years and seeking affirmation from everyone else whereas the only thing that I should have been doing is approving of myself the way I am. But I guess, it is never too late to start.
I am now secure and happy with my own self. I do not seek other’s validation or conformation. I am now walking the path that my heart wants me to. I do not let other’s decide who I should be. If you are facing something like this, the let me tell you, you do not need to conform to other’s expectations of you. You should know that you always have a choice – the choice to choose yourself and your happiness above everything else.