I’ve always been a reliable person. I’m always on time for things, if not painstakingly early (like showing up to the train station one hour early ‘just in case there was traffic’). I’m never late for meetings, always meet my deadlines, and in general, just do what I’m told. I try to do little things to make life easy for other people; I don’t mind walking an extra few minutes to take something to a friend if it means saving them a trip.
My work life usually revolves around work, my relationships around the person involved, and my family life around my family. Now each of these things individually sounds normal, but when you look at them again, none of these things revolve around me. The thing is, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that this isn’t the norm. It’s by no means unique, but it certainly isn’t the majority. Most people tend to arrange their lives around themselves. Which makes sense, that’s how it should be. I have a friend in a similar position to me, people always canceling at the last minute, while she always remains flexible to their plans – things like that. Together, we decided it’s time to be more selfish. This might seem a bit extreme, perhaps ‘be less selfless’ might be a better fit. Either way, it’s time to put ourselves first.
It’s not easy, in fact, it’s quite difficult changing a key part of who you are, but we’re slowly adapting and finding ways to change. The ‘old’ me used to be extremely flexible when arranging work meetings; I would alter my entire work schedule just to have a meeting when it suited a colleague. The ‘new’ me makes my work schedule and has started saying ‘no’ if it doesn’t suit me. If you find that the more you give, the more people take, then it might be time to give less. It’s little changes like not volunteering for things that no one else wants, even if you don’t have a real reason not to, that will encourage other people to not always assume that you’ll pick up the slack. It’s about setting your boundaries firmly because while being flexible might be admirable, it serves others more than it serves you.