You can't be all things to all people.
This is completely the opposite of who I am inside. When I see someone hurting, I want to help them. I never turn my phone off and sleep with next to my bed, just in case there's an accident or someone needs to be taken to the hospital in the middle of the night (I'm being serious about this, same reason my gas tank is never on empty). If I go out to eat with someone, I prefer that they pick where we go so that they are comfortable. You need help with something? Let me change my schedule around a bit. Had a bad day? Let's go get a drink and you can tell me about it. You're stressed out...don't worry, I'll take care of it. Don't have time for laundry? Let me run a load for you while I'm doing mine.
To me, none of these things are a big deal. It makes me happy to be that person that everyone can count on. I enjoy being able to help people and make their lives a little easier. But about two years after college, I had quit my teaching job and moved back to Wisconsin and my life was like a puzzle box that got tipped upside down. I was balancing six different jobs, living in Jefferson, working from Lake Mills to Milwaukee, and starting grad school. The *only* reason I ever knew where I was going was because my schedule was in my iPod touch (not and iTouch...there's no such thing). It literally told me where I was going to be sleeping on any given night (thanks to everyone who let me crash on their couches). I was basically living out of my car, running around like a chicken with my head cut off.
The guilt I had was incredible. My friends would ask me to do things with them, and to be real honest...I didn't have the time, the money, or the energy. But I felt SO GUILTY. (Which, for the record, is a terrible reason to do something.) It wasn't that I didn't want to spend time with these people. I would have LOVED to! I was just running myself ragged physically, emotionally, and financially. And then I learned this word...
One of the simplest words to say (parents, just wait until your kids learn this one!) and yet for me, one of the most difficult words to say. I never wanted to disappoint anyone, or let anyone down. I didn't want to cause someone inconvenience if I could help them. But what I came to learn was that the people that were truly my friends understood when I had to say it to them. Because they knew how much it upset me to tell them know. And the people I thought were my friends, got upset and didn't understand at all. I was in the process of finding myself, and rediscovering who I was. I needed the love and support of those people who were around me to figure it out.
Because the truth is, when you say "no," you're not saying it just to be rude. (At least I hope not!) You're saying it because you need to re-prioritize your life. You're saying because the people and things that are TRULY important, have been there for you in the past, and will be there for you in the future...have fallen by the wayside. You're saying it because you need to find that balance between making yourself happy and making everyone else happy. When you are in a good place, you're in a good place to help other people.
These days I'm a lot better at saying "no." Oh, don't get me wrong...I still tend to overload myself some days. The stress level starts to rise and I feel like I'm constantly running. I usually start to get pretty clumsy and all takes is a good run into a wall or trip over an end table for me to realize what I've gotten myself into. (Coincidently, this is one of the reasons I'm constantly telling my mother I shouldn't be allowed to live alone...too many stupid things.) I still love being there for my friends. I love going over and playing with the little munchkins and being "Auntie Andrea" or "Miss Andrea." I love giving my friends a ride to get their oil changed, or giving them a lift home after work. And I love being the person that someone can vent to, or talk to about stuff they need to get out of their head and off of their heart. (Mmmmm, warm fuzzies.)
You can't be all things things to all people, but to the people in your life that truly love and care about you, you are one of the most important things. Love you all!