I’ve often had a lot of people do things for me. Things like accompany me to some place where I could have gone myself, arrange for things that I could have arranged myself and even do things that I was supposed to do by myself. Mostly this was done by the few men in my life —friends and colleagues.
Initially I used to feel that it was because they care. And this is how they show it. I let it go and decided to not make a big deal about it. But there really were couple of instances where I felt that it was actually hampering me more than it helped.
This happened few years back when I was so looking forward to building my own website. Anything new that I have to do, I’m super thrilled to learn and figure out. I discussed this with a friend of mine and told him I might need his help in figuring out how to do it but I’d like to definitely do this on my own.
I stepped out for a movie with my family and when I was back he very excitedly told me “Hey guess what! I have a surprise for you! I built your website”.
Maybe I should have felt, “Lord, he cares so much for me. He did this for me to make it easier for me”. But honestly, I was offended. It was something I wanted to do on my own, partly because I knew very well that it would be challenging for me. I hadn’t really done a lot of coding and was not sure if I’d be able to build something all by myself. Instead of providing me with the support and confidence needed to try this myself, he did the entire thing for me, which is more like snatching away an opportunity to develop my talent.
The first time I flew to the US — it was my very first international flight. Obviously, I was excited but equally anxious. Right then, my male colleagues decide to come over and drop me. As they were bidding goodbye, I was expecting to hear “We know you’ll be able to take care of yourself. If you need something just let us know”. But one of them said, “You know I’m really worried about you. I was considering flying with you till Dubai and putting you safely in that flight to San Francisco”. That part lost me. This particular statement made me feel I’m not capable of even travelling on my own and people around me are super concerned.
Instead of thinking how special this person makes me feel or how much they care for me, I ended up thinking that I can’t even do such a small thing on my own.
That single line he said shattered my confidence.
I don’t always want things to be served on a platter to me! The challenges and obstacles along my way is what really want me to do these things for one. This doesn’t mean that I’ll never need help either.
What I really need is for my dear ones to give me the confidence to do it by myself and the faith that they’ll be around should I need help.
Over time, I’ve come to realise that it is our responsibility to communicate if we find it uncomfortable.
The people around you and particularly ones your work with or spend most time with will really shape who you are. A good friend or colleague who respects your values and preferences will try to listen, understand and adapt to them. If you do not see them welcoming your comments, it may not be a good sign. Might be time to make it very clear that you do not entertain it and in some cases even walk away from them.
I used to be very apologetic about it. As in I used to feel that I am the bad friend. But really, if someone doesn’t respect your values and boundaries, then it is best to not stay and go through the self-depreciation.
If you haven’t ever thought about this, maybe you should. What is your definition of independence? If you do find yourself comfortable with people doing it all for you, there’s nothing wrong about it. But if you ever feel out of place like I do, then do try and acknowledge your feelings and decide to honour them. Trust me, there’s nothing wrong about it.
If you feel that your definition of caring for someone is doing everything for them, then maybe it is time to rethink that bit. Again, we may not be able to label them as “wrong” or “right” because it is a battle of perspectives. But if this person you care for is finding it uncomfortable and it is defeating your goal of helping them do better in life, then you know the answer!
PS: This is in no way applicable only to women. Men and women could feel this way.