For much of my life, I have been what they call a people pleaser.
The Urban Dictionary defines people pleasers as “doormats that let high expectations, resentment, and saying yes when they mean no run their lives. They are set on being perfect and nice. It affects mostly women because they are socialized to do for other people instead of for themselves. This has been linked to codependence.”
Additionally, I recently learned that I have likewise been what they call a serial monogamist.
UD defines this term as “one who spends as little time as possible being single […]. The defining aspect of serial monogamy is the desire and ability to enter new relationships very quickly, thus abbreviating any period of single life, during which the serial monogamist may begin to ask questions of an existential nature.”
It’s true: I am a young woman of 26 years, fresh out of a relationship that has defined me for a long time. And when that relationship started, I was fresh out of a different but equally significant one. The last time I was single for any noteworthy period I was a girl, 19 years young.
People pleaser + serial monogamist. You can imagine what such a combination does for one’s personal growth.
But the thing is: many young women don’t consider the consequences of this sort of pattern. I know that I didn’t. I was comfortable coasting in and out of relationships with good, affectionate young men; young men that had a certain passion for what they did and who they were. I was comfortable defining myself in terms of these young men. I was comfortable growing within the context of a we, an us.
I was horribly uncomfortable being alone.
And as the wonder that is Urban Dictionary so crassly put it, with enough time to fester, this behavior turned out some deep-rooted crap. It surfaced in panic attacks, irrational confrontations over trivial issues, and even some bridges burned. Through a significant amount of trial and error, I discovered that the remedy to this personality rut was a little alone time.
It isn’t easy becoming a woman. The 20-something experience, chaotic and inconsistent, is rough regardless of one’s gender; however young men are more so effectively raised to explore their individuality, their sexuality, and their aspirations as they grow. 20-something females, equally in need of self-exploration, face prominent social and biological pressures to factor in a strong commitment to marriage and motherhood. Not to mention a certain lack of encouragement to explore as freely as young men, generally speaking.
Learning to be alone is uncomfortable. For a while near the beginning, I was accustomed to locking myself in the bathroom of our small apartment and crying into a hand towel until my head was pounding. Eventually, of course, the fear fades a little and you learn to revel in your own silence. And that’s the place you might discover you’re the kind of woman housing a fiercely creative soul; the kind of woman that will be an incredible mother; the kind of woman dedicated to her feminism. It’s the place you find that you are a woman with a powerful and unique voice.
If I may be so bold, allow me to say this: in her journey, every woman must learn to be alone.
Cry in the bathroom if you need to. Dance like a crazy person to some gross club jams in your bedroom by yourself. Have a long and perhaps slightly uncomfortable stare at your face in the mirror every once in a while. Don’t wear make-up when you do. Commit to some form of creative self-expression that is only yours. Actually commit to it.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I was feeling lonely and insecure. I hadn’t felt that way for a solid few weeks, and it hit me pretty hard. My mother was visiting my sister and me for the first time since our West Coast move; and I allowed my crap to surface as trivial confrontations, or what UD would refer to as drama. Somehow we survived the weekend, we always do, but this time she said something that stuck: she told me not to worry; that I would be fine because I’m seizing the opportunity to be alone and grow independently–something she never did.
Take the time to listen to the woman that you are and be true to her. You owe it to yourself. And I owe it to my mother. And my grandmother before her.
Kirsten is an LA-based writer, actor and all around slave to the entertainment industry. Most days she can be found drinking way too much coffee, playing one of three songs she knows on the ukulele, and genuinely over-thinking every interaction she has with every other human being she encounters. You can read more about her silly adventures at https://loveandadd.com/blog, or follow her on twitter @KirstenKnisely.
datingandhookup.com is a website that explores modern romance in the Millennial era – which, let’s be honest, looks nothing like we were taught to expect. We feature essays, advice and social commentary with humor, compassion and brains, and we vow never, ever to publish a piece called “The 10 Best Ways to Satisfy Your Man in Bed”. Do click to submit your work to us. We love you.
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