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*Warning: well-deserved strong language ahead!
For the past few weeks, I’ve been feeling…annoyed.
Annoyed with where I’m at in my life.
Annoyed with the idea of feeling stuck, stagnant, trapped in something I can’t explain.
Annoyed with the overall state of the world.
Annoyed with how I feel in my body.
Annoyed with the people around me.
Ugh, the people.
They’re everywhere. At work. At home. In my family. On the internet. Out in the world.
And they all seem to be irking my last damn nerve.
They have so many needs. They expect me to care. They want to throw their opinions and feelings at me. They want the right reaction or response; they want information or answers. They want. They want. They want.
And yet, even when I think I’m providing what they want, they have complaints and grumbles and reasons why it’s not enough or too much.
Which is, well, annoying.
About two weeks ago, I found myself crying daily and feeling particularly sensitive, but in a way that didn’t even seem to make sense to me. I knew I was frustrated. I knew I was overwhelmed. I knew I was borderline enraged. But seriously, why all the damn tears? Over the tiniest of issues? Why?
It was on my drive to the Jersey Shore to vacation with my family, after a few days of aggravation both with my job and my personal relationships, that I decided I was done being annoyed.
I didn’t like the way it felt in my body. The tightness in my chest. The low, depressive energy that kept me from wanting to work out. The pull in my gut, or maybe my brain, that made me reach for sugar instead of anything remotely healthy. The longing for sleep, whether it was 9 a.m. or 9 p.m. The desire to hide in my bathroom until I felt I could face the world again.
Somewhere between Delaware and the Jersey Turnpike, something shifted. I stopped blaming everyone else for annoying me. I stopped blaming my circumstances or the people around me for how I was feeling. I stopped believing that how I felt was outside my control.
Are people annoying? Oh my fucking God, yes.
But I realized that I don’t have to R.S.V.P. to every drama I’m invited to.
I tend to walk through the world as a fixer. Sometimes because it feels innate to me; I want to help others and see them succeed. But other times because it feels like a responsibility that I’ve had since before I can remember. I’ve always been the one who keeps the peace, who offers advice, who shows up for everyone else.
That doesn’t seem to be working for me anymore. And honestly, I don’t think it ever really has. So I’ve decided to change my approach:
If people have needs, they can find ways to meet them. If I’m able to help, without it being detrimental to my sanity, I’m happy to.
If people have feelings they want to share, they’re more than welcome to reach out. If I’m able to offer them space, without it overwhelming my own emotional state, I’m happy to.
If people want information or answers, they can scour the internet or books or whatever resources are available to them. If I’m able to assist, without it costing me the time and energy I’ve set aside to accomplish my own to-dos, I’m happy to.
If people have issues that require fixing, they can seek out a therapist or a counselor, or a life coach. If I’m able to offer advice, without ignoring or pushing my own feelings and needs aside, I’m happy to.
I can’t figure other people’s shit out, and, news flash, that’s not my or anyone else’s job.
Most importantly, I don’t need to prove how much I care or how much I know, or how dedicated I am by emotionally twisting myself into a human pretzel for anyone else—especially if I’m not willing to first do the same for myself.
I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep this up long-term. It’s tough to change how we show up in the world, especially when we’ve been doing it for so long. But I do know that I’ve felt physically and emotionally lighter inside since deciding, and taking active steps, to show up for myself every day.
And that sure beats feeling annoyed.