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My dad has taught me a lot of things in life, extending all the way from riding a bike to how to be an integral man. He has taught me that being a nerd is not always a bad thing, that school can be skipped sometimes (until you have pay for classes) and that ice cream “just fills in the cracks, so it can be eaten always.”
However, the most important thing that my dad has taught me is none of the things I have mentioned above. In fact, it’s a simple thing that many people struggle with: being a people pleaser.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love to make people happy. I’m never worried about buying my friend a coffee, or pitching in for a friend’s birthday dinner. In fact, I love doing that kind of stuff. What I’m talking about is allowing yourself to be a slave to people that religiously chant: me, me, me with no thanks, thanks, thanks, or any reciprocity period. These type of people are a cancer that not just exhaust you, but go as far as to oppress you.
Now, the nature of my dad’s job can often have the unfortunate consequence of encountering the people who chant the first phrase. The way they act is almost like helpful birds. It’s like they loudly chirp at you until you stuff something down their throat to satisfy them. You can either choose to succumb to these people’s insatiable needs, or, you can simply tell them “no.”
“No,” one of the most difficult words to choke out.
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Now if you always try and please everybody, you end up pleasing nobody. Not yourself, not the people who are asking, and often not the people you hold dear. Because at the end of the day you often are left exhausted, emotionally drained, and jaded.
I know this from personal experience too. I’m not just telling this story vicariously through my dad. When I first moved, I vowed to myself that I would be the most authentic and genuine me that I could ever hope to be. However, I ended up translating that to me having to please everybody that came across my path. It ended up becoming an obsession of mine; one that I couldn’t break myself of. I would run around like a chicken with its head cut off just to live up to the standards that I thought these people had for me. Most of the time they were just simple requests, but I had to prove to them at the personal cost of myself that I could not only do that, but do about a million things more.
Again, this is not always a bad way to live. Living a servant’s mentality is often a rewarding way to live (as well as incredibly humbling) but it becomes a problem when it becomes a chain around your neck that anyone can pull around.
In doing this, I ended up neglecting the people that were most important to me and lost a few good friends (and for that I am still so incredibly sorry). Because in the process of crossing off the list of others, I ended up completely forgetting the people that I love the most – the people that deserve most of my attention.
Also, another unfortunate side effect is that you end up losing a sense of integrity. You say you’ll do (insert request here) whether you agree with it or oppose it morally of fundamentally, and eventually, these inconsistencies shine brightly through and people just assume that you lack a real sense of character.
So the thing that I had to realize was that yes, I should still help people as much as I can, but I also need to be able to say no. I can’t let my plate pile up too much or everyone that I’m trying to help will end up suffering. Saying no does not automatically assure that the person you are saying no to will hate you. Because that’s certainly what I thought, but in reality, they will get over it; if they don’t, they were clearly asking you for the wrong reasons.
My dad now is more generous, helpful, and integral than he has ever been. I think part of it stems from wanting to help the most amount of people that he possibly can without letting anyone fall through the cracks. He has gone from years of being stepped on, to finally saying that he will take care of the people that truly deserve it and that he is capable of helping. And that is a lesson I thank my dad for showing me because it allows me to be the most integral and genuine person I can be… Achieving my goal in the best of ways. For that, I deeply thank him.
For all the dads, Happy Father’s Day. You are a daughter’s first love and a son’s first hero. So be proud of all the things you can teach your children, and know that even if we don’t necessarily show it, we appreciate you more than you could ever imagine. You are truly the best men on this Earth for taking on such a hard job, and expecting nothing in return.
This day is all for you, as it rightfully should be. So cheers to all the dads out there; you deserve this day.
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