People Pleaser

Are you a people pleaser? Do you have a hard time saying no to things? Do you constantly worry about making sure that the people in your life are happy? Do you do all of the above?

I’m definitely in the “all of the above” category, and something tells me that a lot of other PLAers would be, too. I have the perfect storm of attributes that puts me firmly in the category of constantly trying to please everyone. First of all, I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to the work I do – for classes, for jobs, for clubs, for life. I don’t like completing a task knowing that I didn’t give the absolute most effort I could. Sometimes this is considered “going above and beyond” and other times it is considered “extra,” but I’m fully aware of and embrace both titles.

I am also way too concerned with what other people think about me. I will admit that one hundred percent. My mind at any given moment is moving a thousand miles per hour, wondering what the people in my immediate vicinity are thinking about me. Do they think my outfit’s weird? Am I talking too loudly? Am I generally sticking out in any way? And while those thoughts are running through my mind, I’m also constantly thinking of the outer circle – those not in my immediate vicinity but those whose opinions I care deeply about. And the list of those people is long. I find myself constantly worrying about something I said to this person a week ago or something I did to that person a month ago. Did they take it the wrong way? Do they find me annoying? Do they think I’m a good person? Do they think I’m funny? Did I come on too strong?

So, this combination of perfectionism and concern for others’ perceptions leads me to strive every single day to be a people pleaser. If I am asked to do something, I have an extremely hard time saying no. I find myself putting in far more work than others in certain group situations because I’m afraid of not pulling my weight. I’m constantly texting my friends to make sure that everything is okay and I feel like it’s my responsibility to mend things when it’s not – even if the problems have nothing to do with me.

This past week was a very stressful one for me precisely because I needed to people-please. I’m working as a producer on three different film projects – two for a class that I’m in and one for my job at a production agency. I realize that I got myself into this chaos by committing myself to these roles, but this week was over-the-top in the amount of work that I had to do for each project. I had to complete multiple time-consuming assignments for both student projects, print and compile production binders with all of the assignments we had completed during the year, and schedule meetings with our professor. For my job, we are working with Penn State Athletics as our client, and I had to schedule and participate in shoots around the BJC/Beaver Stadium and schedule interviews with student athletes. There are so many hoops to jump through with this project that I found myself sending over 50 emails this week, and because I needed to be prompt, I would be sending them on my way to class, or on the bus, or in between different meetings. It felt like I never had a moment to relax.

My reason for saying all of this – other than the fact that I just needed to vent – is that this past week made me realize that I can’t always please everyone and things are not always going to be perfect. I forgot to include important information in some emails, I didn’t complete certain assignments on time, and I misunderstood directions. I realized that sometimes I shouldn’t put so much pressure on myself when I can rely on other people. And I realized that sometimes I just need to take a step back and say “no.” If I can’t do something, I can’t do it. The world will not stop turning and my reputation won’t be shattered. It’s something that’s easier said than done, especially with my previously explained perfect storm, but that’s just another lesson that I want to focus on learning during my senior year before I head off to work in the real world.