Long story short, you need to be more selfish. Now before you come at me for making such a bold statement, let me explain. There is nothing wrong with being selfish, at times. Think about it, how many times have you agreed to do something that you really just didn't want to do? How many times have you agreed to lend a helping hand when you knew something bad would happen? When you knew that all you'd do is complain? Better to spare everyone the pity party and stay home, right? Right.
When I say "selfish", I don't mind bratty or oblivious to people's feeling, no – that's just mean and uncalled for. There's more than enough love to go around, what I'm referring to is, time.
You see, I'm a lot like you. I give a lot of my time to people who are not always deserving of it. Hours of my life have been spent opening doors for people, who never noticed that it wasn't automatic. I've spent countless hours helping people just because they asked. While there is nothing with this, it can lead to being used – especially if you don't set boundaries. For example, I once helped a lady with her work. She never thanked me, and that's fine. I did it simply because I wanted to, and I wanted her to enjoy her evening. Nothing wrong with that, everyone deserves a break. But there's a limit. For weeks following, I would sit working overtime because I was too polite to say no and because I valued her happiness more than my own – this would have been mildly ok if I knew her, I didn't. All I knew was her name and that she too wrote for a living. After about three months, I decided that I needed to get some of my free time back and told her that I was more than happy to help her when she really needed it (she never asked for help again, but we now leave the office at a decent time).
Now, because I know what it's like to be a doormat (my Halloween costume for the last five years), I've devised a cheat sheet to help us get out of tricky situations without having our anxiety and need to help overcome our biological need to rest.
1. When you don't want to go to a party
To put it simply, the best thing to do is not to go. You'll more than likely just complain, which will lead to upsetting people and potentially damaging your chances of a future invite.
What to do instead: Politely decline and ask them if they would like to celebrate later on in the week. While they enjoy the party, you can spend your time catching up on your favorite series, doing life maintenance or, simply meditating.
2. When you need to go home
We all love our jobs but there really is no reason to work late every single day. You will burn yourself out (fast) and will grow to resent it.
What to do instead: Write a list of the all the things you have to do in the day and stick to it. Or, write a list of all the things that you have to do for the week and then throw it away. The things that you remember are the things that you really need to – that tip ladies, comes from Kate Lewis, the Chief Content Officer of Hearst International. Smart lady – indeed. In terms of productivity, studies have found that two fifteen-minute walks daily aid in concentration, prevent back pain, and help to reduce the chances of stress related diseases.
3. When you're really not into someone
If you don't like someone you don't have to spend time with them – it's as simple as that. Doing so will just confuse things and will hurt both of you in the long run.
What you should do: The polite thing to do is say "no, thank you" and mean it. Don't string people along, it will only get harder to distance yourself and cut things off later.
With this knowledge, I want you to go forth and let ungrateful people open their own doors, let people try before offering your help, and be more cautious with how you give your time to – you can never get it back – so be sure to use it wisely and enjoy some me time – you deserve it.