I was confronted by one of the professors in my department (who I never actually took a course from), that I was considered a flake. That I would make false promises. I had a break down that evening, ending with me sitting in a bathtub with a bottle of wine by my side. I was so afraid of others not trusting me. This experience was somewhat emotionally scarring because it presented me with a new fear. That despite my intelligence I was not something people would want in whatever form. I would not be sought after for assistance or help, because I was a flake.
As I’ve grown older (which being 28 I’m far from being ‘mature’), I’ve learned why I acted that way. I had a tendency to over plan, all the time. Through this over planning I end up scheduling things too closely, often. Then on day two of my five day week I would have found myself overstressed and not knowing how to solve my conflicts. I wanted to help or be a part of so much that I would over commit. I worked part-time consistently during college(outside of my freshman year in the dorms). For half of college I lived in a town 45 minutes away, and part of the time I was home I would also help out and babysit my sisters kids. This made it incredibly difficult to take part in all of these activities and things I wanted to do.
Another important part of why I acted that way is that I had a tendency to sound very wishy-washy about what I wanted to do. I would be really interested but was never sure if I could make it or not. Unfortunately I would say things in a wishy-washy fashion, leaving everyone, including myself, confused. This caused several frustrating conflicts until I learned to more capably express myself. Often people would have gotten the impression that I had agreed to do something, when I had not intended to give that impression whatsoever from my own statements. It was definitely a form of miscommunication, one that I have steadily gotten better at preventing over time.
The last aspect that I had to learn to control, was my interactions with my family. It was, by far, one of the most influential in why I was a flake. My family didn’t make me a flake, but the decisions I made because of and for my family, made me look like one. Most of my life I have had to struggle with boundary issues. Many of the things I was brought up with, expectations that were set from my family, made my adult life difficult. Often many of the expectations I was raised with would directly conflict with those expectations of my peers here in the north-west. Learning which path and what choices I wanted to make as an adult; those choices were incredibly hard. At one point I saw a counselor who specifically spoke with me about these concerns and issues, and helped me to learn how to make the choices that would be best for me. I am still learning to accept the way things were and how to still have my own boundaries intact with regards to my family.
In the past couple of years I’ve made some personal changes to combat this fear and subsequent causes. I’ve learned to cut back on my commitments, especially I’ve learned when to say yes and when to emphasize that I don’t know if I can make it (or simply say no). I am also clearer in expressing my decision than I was previously. Now when I make a commitment I am able to give most of myself without the fear of disappointing someone. I now know that others will trust me when I say I will be there.
A recent experience helped to emphasize this for me. I was hanging out, drinking a beer after a soccer game with some friends, and I was asked by an acquaintance to play for his team the following weekend. At first I wasn’t sure I wanted to/was able to, and was therefore a bit wishy/washy about the whole thing. However Robey emphasized he would be interested in helping too, so I agreed to play. The acquaintance made a comment about not being sure I would be there, but then another friend piped up and said that if I said I would be there I would be there. Continuing she said, “If I had still been uncommitted then I was definitely uncommitted, but if I said I would play I would be there”. Hearing your friends stick up for you, and verify that you are a responsible individual to others is incredibly satisfying.
Up Next Time: I have no idea folks...this new job has cut down on my writing time so you’ll get whatever I can produce by Tuesday!