Volume 1: Issue 1
By Sinclair, age 13, NC
Everyone has bad habits—biting their nails, over-thinking, or even picking a scab. Mine was following my friend around . . . not in an annoying or a stalker way but in a way to avoid being alone.
For example, a close friend and I had to pick a class. I was so excited to try a baking class. But she wanted to do sketching. I felt that if I chose the class I wanted, she would make new, better friends in the sketching class, and then we wouldn’t have anything in common anymore, and have nothing to talk about.
I was afraid of being lonely in my class. I was afraid of needing to meet new people. For me, making friends was not a hard thing, but it wasn’t all that easy either. I allowed my anxiety to take over, and I decided to follow my friend to the sketching class that she elected to take. I picked the classes she picked, which caused me to miss out on the things I wanted to do. I just didn’t want to be lonely. I thought that being like someone else would make me feel better about myself. But it did not. I just got sad and angry.
I knew my friend didn’t care what class I took. She always went with her first choice. It did not occur to her to choose something that was important to me. Unlike me, she did not make what I wanted to do her priority. When it was time to pick a new class, I wanted to try baking this time, but she was satisfied with her choice. She said it was okay if I took baking without her, but I really wanted to follow her. Even though I really wanted to take the baking course, I refused to. And like a dog on a leash, I just followed right after her, feeling angry like it was her fault. We never got to do anything I wanted to do, and it caused many arguments between us!
I learned that I had believed the lie that I don’t matter—that what is important to me is not worthwhile. I followed someone around instead of doing what I wanted to do for fear of being lonely. I believed the lie that disregarding myself was going to make me feel better and happier. But it really didn’t. All I needed to do was do what was important to me. But I didn’t know that then. So I kept going on, not realizing the pointless drama I was creating. The bond I tried to help create, I was now pulling apart.
So if I had to go back, I would make a big change. I would pick the class I want to take. I would attempt to make new friends. And if making new friends didn’t go the way I hoped, I would always have my friend as a friend. When someone is really a friend, nothing about her looks or personality, or what you like or don’t like, will end your friendship. You’re really going to regret not doing big things for yourself.
I am 13-year-old, rising 8th grader. I live with my dad, mom, and two younger sisters in NC. I love spending time with my friends and fashion design.
What great insight you have Sinclair! You are looking back at your situation, regretting the decisions you made and are seeing what you can do better next time. Next time, you will surely decide for yourself and take the class you want! So many of us “pleasers” don’t have the insight you have at your age and spend many years making decisions to please others rather than doing what will make us fulfilled and happy. I have done this many, many times and it always left me empty and regretful. Never give over your power of choice to others.
Enjoying our friends and wanting to be with them is different than aligning ourselves with what we think will make others happy and denying our true desires and ending up bitter. We cannot find fulfillment in others, we have to find it deep within. In the end, others respect us more when we make our own choices regardless of the outcome.
Sometimes, we will have to be brave and stand alone. Fawning after others never brings true joy and denying ourselves will keep us from growing into who we should be. This lesson will serve you well. Great job with seeing what happened and determining to make different choices next time around. You are growing!
—Beth McHoul, retired CPM midwife, co-founder of Heartline Ministries-Haiti and former director of Heartline Maternity Center.