Your life is your responsibility

I tend to find myself taking on other people’s responsibilities. It could be some of their homework and essays, me being the “middle-man” and trying to keep the peace between two friends or just me trying to find solutions to some problems in their lives with their family. Sometimes I even write emails to my friends’ teachers for them.

One day, I was sitting in my bed and staring at the ceiling. I counted all of the glow-in-the-dark stars that I stuck up there when I was 12 since that usually helps me fall asleep. But, suddenly, I got hit with a wave of anxiety. 

I started to think: I have to check over my friend’s essay that’s due tomorrow. I was supposed to do it today. Then I thought about my other friends and what they wanted. I started to think about how one of them wanted me to email my counselor about changing her classes, which I had refused to do. 

Over time, I had ended up doing some of my friend’s assignments when I should have been doing my own. I helped write people’s essays when I was in the middle of reassessments for ones I tanked on. Sometimes when my life felt like it was going through a lot, I would shove it away so that then I could comfort my friend instead. 

I stopped caring about myself and only cared for other people. I let myself be a doormat.

When the anxiety hit me that night, I walked over to my mom’s bedroom to tell her what was happening. 

Once I explained everything to her, she told me this: “You need to figure out your place in life before you start living it for everyone else.”

Since that night, I have given some friends, like me, the same advice from my mom.  

I always find myself taking hold of other people’s responsibilities when I shouldn’t have. They tend to hand their lives to me, and I take the responsibility to try to keep the pieces together while also balancing my own life. 

I realized something when this was happening. You can’t have an even balance if you take care of your own life and someone else’s at the same time.

I tried to imagine holding my life in one hand and their life in my other. When someone’s life is cracking into different pieces in one hand, your attention immediately goes to trying to make sure that it will not fall all over the place. But while you are tending to it, your life in the other is also starting to crack. Then your mind goes to the other hand, but you are caught in a dilemma in which one to help. 

Both of them are cracking. 

Which hand would you have chosen to help? The one with your loved one in it? Or your own?

With how I am, I had chosen to help the hand that contained my friend’s life while completely ignoring my own. I tossed it aside and went to help the other one instead. 

I know many people are like me. We are known as “people pleasers.” We always take the responsibilities of others to make them happy while making ourselves feel worthy of them.

We also tend never to say the word “no” when people ask something of us.

If you feel like you are living your life for others, it’s okay to say no sometimes. You need to figure out who you are and who you are becoming before taking hold of other people’s responsibilities.

I still need to work on this all the time. I still help solve problems in my friends’ private lives even though I’m not in the position to help, and I help people a lot in their academic lives. I still ignore big problems in my life so that then I could comfort them instead. This is because I said yes when asked to help. I’m letting them become dependent on me.  

The best way that I could have avoided this was by just simply saying, “No. I’m sorry, but I have to work on my stuff.” But I didn’t want to make them feel upset by saying no, so I said yes. 

But if I can give any advice from my own experience, don’t do what you think will make others happy if it is just going to cause you stress and loads of anxiety. But if you feel like you can help a friend with something, then it is your choice to do it or not. Just make sure that they aren’t so dependent on you that they can’t write their emails, which I did because I was too afraid to say no. 

Your life is your responsibility. You are not responsible for others until it is the right moment.