As soon as awareness of relationships develops in a child they tend to want to please people around them. As a child I always wanted my mum to approve of everything I did. You know the usual ‘mummy look what I can do’ at every moment of the day. You can imagine that I was a difficult child who demanded attention 24 hours each day. My poor mum reminds me that she could have raised ten kids instead of one of me. Everything I ever did it was to ensure that my mum would look at me with that warm smile and be proud that I was able to do something well. I worked hard to learn to alphabet and this meant that by the time I hit three years old I was able to read. This meant hours of reading to my mum to show her how well I could read. In school I wanted my teachers to approve and be proud so I listened intently to try and quickly grasp whatever it was that we were being taught that day. I completed and handed my home work in way before it was due and made sure I always went further than asked and added additional details to it. Being so eager to please people also made me competitive in sports and several times I injured myself severely due to my overzealous efforts.
I don’t think I am alone in this need to impress people and to make them proud. It is in all of us and each day we strive to become better at the things we do at work and in our personal lives. Be it being the best cook, best PR, best at marketing or the most through accountant. We all seem to pick people that we admire who reflect the person we ourselves want to be and try to impress them with our achievements.
Many people have come into my life over the years that I wanted to impress. My mum has always been a constant one but there are many many others. Teachers, mentors, colleagues, bosses or friends that I admire and look up to have been the motivation behind everything I strive to achieve.
As I grew up and became somewhat wiser I realised that it was me that I needed to impress and it was me that had to live with all my failures and achievements. This realisation changed my behaviour so instead of accepting everything expected of me at face value I compromised on what it was that I was doing to impress the people that mattered to me. It lead to many heated arguments as a teenager with my parents when they disapproved of my actions as it did not reflect how they were trying to bring me up. Now that I am an adult I am able to show them that whilst I understand and respect all that I have been taught I choose to reflect this differently in my life. Over time they came around and began to accept my eccentric ways and realise that everything was still the fruit of their upbringing; just translated in my own individual way. My mum taught me not to talk to strangers and I realised this was because it was difficult to judge their intentions and therefore I should be wary of them, instead of simply shutting myself off from interacting with too many new people I decided to try and understand the mixed cultures I grew up around in London. I tried to become a better judge of character. At first I approached them with caution and reservation in a negative light that they may be a bad person but in time I changed this attitude so that I hope for the best whilst still practicing caution and assume that a person is good until they show signs of being otherwise.
Whilst I claim to be living how I want it still appears that I want to impress people. At the beginning of 2012 I met a man; strictly professional from the offset our interaction stirred something in me. Difficult to explain if you consider that I have no romantic aspirations towards this man who is much older than me. I met him several times in a professional capacity and each time we spoke I realised that how he saw me bothered me. I suddenly wanted to change, be somewhat different. He saw potential in me and told me. Potential! What did that mean? Hadn’t I reached the target? Wasn’t my professional and personal life wasn’t as good as it could be? All these though he roused in me got me thinking and I began to reflect on my life. Upon inspection it was clear to me that a lot in my life needed to change. I wasn’t happy with a lot of things and in the rush of life I hadn’t given it any thought. Because of the stresses of life I had become impatient, unhappy, not pleased with anything I had and may even admit to being a little mean.
The more I gave it though the more I was not able to live with how things were and got up one morning with the intention of making some changes. Since that time I think I have come a long way. My drinking has ceased to 10% of my previous consumption, my diet is very healthy, and I exercise regularly and take better care of myself both mentally and physically. I am finally seeing the results after months of change. I smile when I see people because potentially that person could be my new delightful friend or a good contact. I try to be more understanding of people around me and am more lenient with my relationships with family and friends. It is a positive change. I wake up each morning pleased that another day is presented to me to live beautifully.
So why him? Why did I spend all my life resisting so much advice and guidance and then one day this stranger comes along and suddenly I want to be the person that he can see? It’s difficult to explain and I am trying to figure it out myself. Whatever the reason may be it has had a positive impact on my life. I haven’t seen this man in months and don’t think that I will in the near future but he has been a blessing to me. I was able to see the person that I needed to be because of him. So maybe we need to choose people that inspire us, people that we admire and keep them at the back of our head when making choices in life. Amazing how someone enters your life for the briefest moment and becomes the most important person in it. We should always look for motivation and courage in the eyes of the people we meet every day. So do look people in the eye! Your eyes may just meet with the person who will elevate and motivate you to become a better person. Do you have anyone in your life like that? Who are you trying to impress?