the little compromises
I recently read an article by a therapist that espoused her belief that many people are overweight not because of a lack of willpower or laziness, but because they compromise way too much. It struck a chord with me.
Thinking about most of the things I’ve struggled with in my life, a common element was a negotiation–usually with myself–about what I was going to do or not do that day. Everything in life, if you think about it, comes down to a series of small choices that eventually pile up into big results or give you the push you need to do big things all at once.
I don’t know about you, but growing up as a nice, timid, white girl from the ‘hood, everything in my life was a negotiation. A compromise. Growing up poor, I learned to adapt constantly. I had to make do with what was in front of me. I had to be “happy” with my choices–because being unhappy with my choices could just paralyze me and stop me from getting out of that life I was so desperate to leave.
As a woman, I was taught that I never came first. That taking care of others and minimizing my emotions was preferable to self-care. In my family, I was also taught to speak up–but not about pain. I was taught to be an activist for everyone except myself.
As one of only a handful of white girls in my community, I was taught to assimilate. To adopt the behaviors of my diverse neighborhood. And I was always an A+ student. I soaked in all of it, and to this day, my old neighborhood shows up in my life in often amusing ways.
But compromise was in everything. I’ve always valued my ability to be flexible. I’ve always valued my chameleon-like tendency to disappear. I’ve always enjoyed how easy it is for me to find commonality in all those differences and my ability to make nearly anything work. It’s served me well, or so I thought.
Looking back at the things I’ve accomplished in my life, I realize I didn’t compromise. I could have, and I’m certain the people pleaser in me wanted to. But somewhere along the way, I learned that this was my path. I wasn’t getting off of it. And no one could convince me otherwise.
Now? I compromise all the damn time. I just did it with myself this morning. It was a really rough week, and I was supposed to do my normal cleaning routine to keep the apartment presentable. I was supposed to work on the things I have due this week for school. All of which take a ton of mental and physical energy. Yesterday, I did all the household have-tos except for one. I commented in my course, as required. And I even opened up the assignments and read through them, assessing due dates and time it would take to complete. To get everything done before the cray that happens at the end of April, I know I have to complete everything a couple weeks early–which means being a couple weeks ahead. Now’s the time. It’s just going to get worse. But yesterday, I was mourning my Saturdays–and a little Devil on my shoulder told me I could just do it on Sunday. I had done enough work for the day. I didn’t need to deal with that or the boxes. I had plenty of time. I deserved one last lazy evening. So, I listened to the Devil on my shoulder–because I really wanted that one last lazy evening, and I deserved it after this week. And, yes, I could get it all done today.
But then today showed up, and I immediately started thinking about how I deserved a whole weekend. And do I really need to do all of this now? I can just do it before work or do it after work. I have a whole week. It won’t be hard. Same thing with the boxes.
I remembered that article, though, as I was eating breakfast. And I realized that I’m constantly negotiating with myself. I’m a big procrastinator, and deadlines help me so much because I’m also a people pleaser. But when they’re MY deadlines, I have a hard time holding myself accountable. Because I am so good at negotiating. Especially with myself. Especially when I’m tired and just want a break.
Today, I thought to myself–“Would you have made it out of Westwood if you had these conversations then?” Fuck no. I wouldn’t have. And then I felt terrible. I have it SO easy compared to just a few years ago. When I was 17, I used a fucking typewriter to type my papers. I didn’t have white out, either, and was a terrible typist–so I often had to type and retype entire pages. I remember doing it late into the night. Nothing stopped me then. Yea, I had a lot more energy then and didn’t have adrenal fatigue or a thyroid issue, but I had something else. True commitment. So how do I reignite that drive?
I think the first step is to come up with a vision for myself. Something to focus on…instead of the anxiety and my inner naysayer. Whatever you focus on always grows. I also need some non-negotiables. As an INFP, it’s interesting because I often sway back and forth between caring way too much and not caring AT ALL. Once that caring thing is activated, I’m like a tornado and can be pretty rigid about my commitment to seeing it through. Luckily, I feel like–this time–school has activated that side of me. I’m also a Leo–which I think reinforces that part of me. I recently read an interview Jennifer Garner gave wherein she talked about her marriage to Ben Affleck. She said something about how when his sun is shining on you, it’s amazing. But that it’s pretty cold when it’s not. And I immediately knew he was a Leo–and actually checked–and confirmed it. Mostly because I resemble that remark. The problem with school here, I guess, comes from my Leo-ness. As a Leo, I love to be in love with things. I love that passion and novelty of being so excited about learning. And well, the bloom is off the rose with this program. I have a lot of doubts about whether or not I want to pursue the nonprofit world. But I’m trying to focus on my own need to finish and believe in myself. And my thesis topic is pretty kickass, tyvm. I’m so glad I chose something related to my future course of study and a personal passion. Oddly, the subject is something I’ll need a lot of in finishing this thesis!
What vision do you have for yourself? What are your non-negotiables?