I am an outlier. If you want me to immediately pivot from a choice, tell me, “Everybody else is doing it.” I do what aligns with my beliefs, interests, and priorities, regardless of what everybody else thinks about it. However, being an outlier makes it really hard to be a people pleaser. For most of my life I tried to be both.
One of the greatest challenges I’ve faced as a parent has been to stand my ground with my parenting decisions. Ultimately, I’m going to act in the best interest of my child, regardless of who agrees with it. The hard part is vocalizing that.
I. Do. Not. Like. Conflict. I want everybody to be happy with me, and smile at me, and tell me nothing but good things about myself. When I make my inevitable outlier choices, I end up having those annoying, awkward conversations, where people feel it’s their job to tell me their opinions and how I’m making the wrong decision because I’m not doing what they would do in my situation.
When I became a parent—and I mean during my pregnancy—I decided that I had to do what was in my child’s best interest. I had to follow my gut, even if that meant I had to stand up to my own momma (and if you know her, you know…..). I went most of my life doing things I didn’t want to do, just to keep the peace, but as a parent, I realized that my child’s physical, mental, emotional, and even social wellbeing matters more to me than avoiding those awkward moments.
It has taken time to get to a point where I initiate those awkward convos, as needed, rather than wait ’til they come to me. This week, I’ve already had a few and I’m gearing up for a few more. It’s a sign of my growth that I am standing in my power and saying, “I don’t care what you think; this is what I’m about to do.”
Just because something worked for someone else does not mean that is best for my child. As I grow as a parent, I realize more how important it is to exercise boundaries. We often have people around us who are very opinionated about our parenting choices. We can hear others, but ultimately we need to stand in what’s true for us and best for our children. We get the privilege of being their advocates. Sometimes that means we need to speak up and say what we are/are not going to do, when it comes to our children.
If you are a recovering (or practicing) people pleaser, know that the more you exercise your boundaries, and take the risks to stand in your truth, the more you develop inner strength. It’s important for me to catch myself when I’m tempted to back down from following my internal guidance, and ask, “What is my intention?” It helps me remember where my focus belongs. It helps me not take the easy path, just to avoid the conflict. It helps me stay aligned with my truth.
We need to follow our instincts, hold our boundaries, and speak our truths, even if our voice shakes.