I was always known as the “nice” girl. The girl who would go out of her way to be there for someone even if I was having a pretty hard day myself. I was the type of girl who would always answer my text messages as soon as I saw them, even if I was in the middle of an assignment or had fifteen other things on my To-Do list. I was the girl who picked up my phone when I saw a friend’s name pop up, regardless of how I was feeling myself. Any time, any day and any place, everyone knew I would respond promptly, regardless of what I was dealing with myself. If I knew a friend was feeling down, I pushed away my own emotions to be there for them.
It got to the point that I was constantly saying, “yes” anytime a friend needed me, constantly dropping whatever it was that I was doing to pick up the phone and spend an endless amount of time and energy to listen to a friend and give them advice, that I forgot that I needed to be there for myself first. I was losing time from my studying, working out, being with my family and losing sleep to help carry the burdens of other’s in my life.
I had forgotten that I could simply say, “No.”
I don’t literally mean saying “no” when a friend calls or asks for help; but rather a mental “no” to myself.
After pushing myself into overdrive for countless years in order to be the best friend I could be by always being available, I realized I had to take a huge step back.
You don’t always have to drop what you’re doing or push away your own feelings to help someone else out. You need to help yourself first.
You do not always need to spend hours and hours on the phone to hear about your friend’s relationship problems, when you have an exam the next morning, and most importantly, you do not always need to be the friend who is available.
I know what you’re probably thinking — this sounds like selfish advice. This advice honestly goes against social standards that have been instilled in us from a young age. This advice probably sounds rude if you are known as the “nice” girl and it is already obvious to others who have been doing this their entire lives. But, this is the advice that will change your life if you’ve always been known as the “nice” girl.
After I decided to take this step back from all of my relationships and spend more time on myself, I watched myself transform.
I suddenly was not as tired all the time, I looked physically better and just felt “lighter” over all. The reason? I had set boundaries. I had stopped picking up my phone the minute I saw it ringing, if I was busy or feeling down myself. I decided to only respond to text messages offering advice when I felt I was mentally able to do so without overwhelming myself. When I did respond to a friend and I was busy, I would create a time limit for myself so that I would be able to go back to what I was doing prior to their call or text message. I did not become rude or selfish, but rather finally began putting my needs before those around me.
Surprisingly, my friends also did not see it as selfish, rather they just began to value my time more. When I would answer the phone, they would thank me for being there for them. They appreciated my time and advice more than they had prior to me taking this step back because they realized I was not always available to them.
Of course, if it’s something serious I still always make time to be there for a friend, but if I am really overwhelmed with work and a friend has an issue that is not an emergency for them to talk out, I realized that it is okay to take the space and time to be there for myself.
Being the person who is constantly there for others is a wonderful attribute– but, only when if you are able to take care of your own happiness first. Not only will this change how you feel inside, it will allow those around you to value your words and time more than they currently do.
So, the next time you are already dealing with a bunch of your own problems and a friend is texting or calling to vent about theirs, it is more than okay to mentally say “no” and take some time to be there for yourself prior to being there for them. In my experience, you will actually become a better friend and give better advice if you are happy and content within yourself before being there for someone.
Therefore, start saying “No”, and watch it change your life.