Essay by a recovered people pleaser
Being perfect is making you feel empty, exhausted and unloved. By the end of this essay I’ll show you how being imperfect makes you feel accepted and loved.
Hey gals! For those who don’t know me, my name is Tara Barot. I’m the founder of the Rising Tide podcast and a clarity coach. I help people pleasers like you to connect to their intuition so they can gain clarity on their passion and purpose.
As a people pleaser I know that trying to please everyone and being perfect is a losing game as people have different expectations, and therefore you can’t make everyone happy, and you stretch yourself to do things for too many people and you get exhausted by it all. Plus you’re never fully satisfied as there’s ALWAYS someone dissatisfied. Plus you take the dissatisfaction personally, and think it’s because you’re not good enough and therefore people don’t love you.
There’s a question that brought an ah ha moment to me, and that’s:
Whose love did you crave the most growing up?
For me it was my mother’s. The following is my interpretation and how I feel about that interpretation of her actions and words.
The people pleaser me –
My appearance was not right
I remember being little and not wanting to wear jeans, this was in the mid 1990’s and leggings weren’t the fashion item they are now. Jeans were more the thing. But I’d wear my leggings, and I felt I didn’t look good enough for my mum.
I was told to smile at pictures and look right all the time. Sucking my stomach in. wearing the right clothes.
My mum would tell me I looked pale, I couldn’t tan. My sister has Mediterranean skin and tans beautifully, I freckle. I remember hearing I’m too pale. I can’t change my skin tone, and I took this as I didn’t look right for her.
What I said was wrong
When at meals with family friends, I felt an expectation of looking the part, saying the right things. The amount of times of being told, you’re not going to wear that are you?
And then at the dinners, when the conversation would get fun and exciting and I would speak louder, I’d be shhh down directly by her. When I’d laughed too loud, I’d be looked at with big round eyes from my mother, with a stare telling me: “Tara! That’s not the way to be!”
The subtle tap on the arm from my mother, making a sign that I should not be saying what I’m saying right now.
The out loud “Tara!” When I say a joke that’s more daring than what my mother would like, everyone is laughing but her.
What I wanted to study was not as right.
Here’s another one, my first choice at university was acting. But, that was a straight no from my mother, “get a degree in something you can be hired after” that’s the line I got. Sound familiar?
And I did, I chose interior design. To this day I can’t remember how I came to choose interior design.
Why did I not fight stronger for it? Well, that goes into a little more of the family dynamics, my sister was the rebellious one, and I was the perfect goody two shoes. I received a lot of praise, and that made me feel loved. In reflection now, I see that subconsciously I wanted to keep the praises going, as I want to feel loved.
From my upbringing conditioning, I lived my twenties, with that mindset. With the need to please, to look right, do the right things all the time. Say the right thing. Not to upset anyone and it leaked into my romantic relationship too.
I needed to be someone else in my relationship to keep my partner interested
Also being told by my mother that I needed to look a certain way for my boyfriend. I need to look just right for him, be someone he would want. Do that for him*
*There’s nothing wrong with wanting to please a man. I believe in doing things for yourself. Plus the more I’ve worked on myself the more I’ve realised, and coaches will share the same: do you first. Love yourself first. Dress up sexy because it makes you feel incredible. Put the makeup on because you feel like a goddess when you do. Take care of your body because you love yourself and want to make sure you take care of yourself. You do that for yourself and I guarantee, you’re going to please the man that is right for you. – side not if the man you want is turned off, or belittle you when you do that, walk the other direction-
The thoughts in my head, yeah I’m hamming it up:
- You’re too pale
- You’re too loud
- You’re not smart enough
- You don’t look right
- You need to be pretty all the time
- You won’t find a man, if you don’t look right
- Be perfect
- Don’t say anything upset
- Say the right thing all the time
- Sit straight
- Stick your stomach in
- Be perfect for your partner or he won’t stay around.
I remember sucking my stomach in when we hugged with my past partner at the beginning of our relationship. I couldn’t show him I was not perfect.
The story in my mind was that I needed to be perfect to be loved. And the way I accomplished that was through pleasing others.
Which I did until…
2019, in the middle of my self development phase.
First of all it’s exhausting trying to be perfect and please everyone! I’ve tried, but because everyone has different wants, needs and expectations you can NEVER please them all. So you feel overwhelmed, a chest ache from over pleasing. It SUCKS!
Second, you’re forgetting a major person in all this. Yep, that’s YOU! Remember you’re a person too. And as a people pleaser, shouldn’t you be pleasing yourself too 😉 huh?!?
Thus FUCK BEING PERFECT
Starting off, the person I am today, which I am super proud of and I love, is thanks to all I’ve lived. It’s thanks to my interpretation of the events in my life. I’m grateful for having lived through it all. It was not all rosy and didn’t always feel good. But it’s my experience and it’s part of the reason I am here right now writing this.
When my mother was telling me to be, do, say a certain way. I felt dismissed, a little unloved and that I couldn’t be my authentic self as it was not perfect. I didn’t realise the full extent of what I was feeling at the time. In the moments, it felt more like a little pang of emotional hurt of not being wanted, that I would quickly push down and avoid feeling.
How does being imperfect make you feel accepted and loved?
This is psychology and how the human system works. You need to give yourself internally what you most desire, in order to feel it externally.
Example: You cannot experience being loved fully, if you don’t love yourself first. Because you won’t have the capacity with you to feel the love that is given to you.
Same with acceptance. You cannot feel accepted externally as you are until you accept yourself as you are first.
It took me a little while to grasp that concept at first. The way I integrated it, is by giving it a try. I started accepting small parts of myself, which I was previously uncomfortable with. And I could then feel the acceptance grow internally. What happened next was that I was attracting people into my life who admired, and appreciated those parts of me that I embraced. Like my loud laugh, once I embraced it my friends started telling me that it brought them joy when they’d hear it. The key is to start small, see the difference and that will keep you going.
When you’re trying to be perfect, you’re trying to be someone you’re not. Therefore you never love the true you as you are repeatedly denying her a voice.
By being imperfect, and accepting you just as you are, you start appreciating yourself just as you are. You love yourself a little more every day. And then you can receive love from others. That feels incredible! They love you exactly how you are, with all your beautiful imperfections.
It’s only today that I can talk about it with this perspective.
Today I realise that these were my mother’s expectations of herself that she projected onto me. Life is a mirror. Yep we criticise others for things we judge in ourselves. If you need to read that again, go ahead 😉
When she was telling me to be, to say certain things, it was not because she didn’t love me or didn’t accept me. It’s because she has expectations for herself, which are very high, I’ve been there and I recognise that. And she’s projecting those expectations onto me.
When I realised this, a weight was lifted off me. I could feel the love for myself, I was enough. I was not unloved nor unaccepted. Plus I can also love my mother deeper for who she is, in her entirety.
Today when she makes a remark, I know it’s a projection. I look at her, smile, make an even more stupid comment sometimes and keep going. I’m perfect just as I am: imperfectly perfect. And so is she. Her expectations are hers, and I don’t need to live up to them. As her life is hers. And my life is mine. I’m the main character in my story and at the end of the day, I want to choose the person I am. As long as I’m happy with that version it’s all good with me.
a recovered people pleaser
Curious to know what I’m up to on a day to day basis, you can follow me here for my shenanigans
PS. I know this essay is far from being perfect, but you know what, it’s published. And that is worth a celebration! I’m doing a head celebration dance as I’m writing this