A Breakup Letter: How 'People Pleasing' Has Affected Me

Dear “People Pleasing,”

Throughout the years, I have struggled with thinking I’m not good enough and I’ve overcompensated by taking on far more than I could ever handle. I did everything people asked me to do, and then some, just because I didn’t want to let anyone down or make them think I’m not as smart as I put on a show to be, but I can’t do this anymore.

I deserve to be able to tell people “no” without feeling guilty, or feeling like I’m less than the people around me. You’ve taken my self-esteem, my motivation and all my free time away from me and I’m done. I deserve to be able to take on things and do them as I see fit, when I see fit, without worrying about what other people will think about me or the thing I’m doing.

I would like to point out all the pain and fear you’ve caused me in my life. I have done everything I have ever done because of you. I took on positions I wasn’t ready for, volunteered at events I didn’t have time for and agreed to spend time with people whom I didn’t need to have in my life. I lost my happiness because of you and I lost the joy I once felt in the things I did. I can’t keep doing things just because other people want me to. You took away my ability to say “no” in social, occupational and academic settings and it’s not fair to me.

I tried to fix this many times by proclaiming my freedom and taking on less responsibility, but each time I did, you reared your ugly head and made me feel incredibly guilty simply for taking care of myself. For the longest time, I stayed debilitated, no direction or idea of what to do, simply because I didn’t want to tell people no.

Now, I’m done with this. I can’t continue to lose sleep and time to myself and my family simply because other people need my help. It is not logical to sacrifice myself for the good of a friend or a club. I have been plagued by self-doubt and fear simply because you taught me to put other people above myself, but that isn’t worth it anymore. While it may be hard to let go, and I may make mistakes, this is better for me in the end. The timing may not be the best for the people around me, but I’ve always put them first, to the point I lost sight of who I am and what I want in my life. Now is the time to focus on treating myself the way I deserve to treat myself and to let the people pleasing and self-doubt go.

Thank you for motivating me to shoot for the moon. Thank you for making me the caring, empathetic person I am today, but you have served your purpose of making me conscientious of the people around me and I can’t do it any longer. I have learned all the lessons you could teach me and now I have to move on to bigger and better things, where I can’t be plagued by wanting to do what other people want me to do, where I cannot listen to the doubt that creeps over me at the least second. I cannot be expected to make last minute, life-or-death decisions like this and for these reasons, I cannot let this continue.

Find someone else to torment,

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