Recently I was talking with a friend about life and she reminded me of a very important lesson in life… I don’t owe anyone anything. My friend is a newlywed, and after saying her vows, she told me that she realized anything pre-marriage was a privilege. Now that she’s married and made a commitment before God, her family and friends, sometimes she does things out of love and out of the commitment to her now-husband. Her sharing her experiences really made me think long and hard about the extent that I go to for people.
People always assume that I’m very extroverted because I have a bubbly personality. but what they don’t know is that after a days worth of socializing, I’m drained. I think part of the reason is that I pour a lot into people including my friends, family, and even strangers. I have outlined businesses for people and basically set up their marketing, helped them with business strategy, redirected them to key resources, sent them examples of similar businesses all so I can watch them flourish and have success, while my ideas are still in my notebook. I have edited essays and resumes and sent blog readers who emailed me, countless information regarding medical school admissions, which took me hours to research and prepare, all without a thank you or followup on their end. Meanwhile, I’m struggling to meet the deadline for the first round of applications for my own grad school apps. When it comes to relationships and friendships, I sometimes overextend myself to make sure that the other person is extra comfortable and happy, while sometimes inconveniencing myself and putting myself in positions of discomfort.
I’m not saying that I’m going to stop doing these things. I love helping people pursue their dreams, so I can’t help but want to share any business knowledge I have accumulated over the years. I love helping women and minorities get into medical school so if I have a chance, I will try to proofread someone’s essay or skim their resume for errors. But I realized that I DON’T HAVE TO DO THESE THINGS and I don’t owe anyone (especially strangers and people I’ve just met) anything at all.
With that being said, I’ve also realized that the same goes in reverse and other’s don’t owe me anything as well. My friends aren’t required to do certain things for me. Those I look up to aren’t required to help me out when I seek mentorship. And those I engage in relationships with don’t owe me anything either (unless we get married, and even then, there’s limits to that). The things that others do for me are out of love, not obligation and I need to remember that.
One of the goals in my personal life has been to be better about setting boundaries. Spending time with others isn’t the problem. Instead, I need to figure out how to set limits and boundaries to protect my space, energy, resources, and time. It’s great to help others, but I think it’s time that I started investing a bit more in myself and my ideas as well. I’ve always been the one to do things for others, but I’ll be turning 26 soon, and I really need to learn to do things for myself.
These lessons I’ve “learned” recently were things that I actually already knew. But sometimes it takes a good friend to be honest with you before you actually start making a change. What are some life lessons that you’ve learned recently?