A memory popped up in my Facebook feed the other day about Asteria receiving honorable mention in The New York Book Festival.
It seems like only yesterday, and yet a lifetime ago.
The world has changed so much … as have I.
For one thing, I no longer struggle with the disease to please, thank God.
Being a people-pleaser is hard for anyone, but for a creative, it’s a nightmare. People-pleasing is an overwhelming desire to make others happy. Avoiding conflict becomes an artform. Serving others is essential to our well-being. Apologies come quickly, even when they aren’t necessary. We take responsibility for how others feel. It’s almost impossible to say no, even when someone asks us to do something we don’t want to do. The opinions of others are more important than our own.
That need for approval is why authors squirrel away manuscripts, never to be published, artists hide paintings, never to be seen, and gifted singers never step up to the microphone.
It wasn’t until I started writing that I realized a) I had always been a people pleaser and b) the need for approval had driven every decision I’d ever made.
Let that sink in.
Where to go to college, what to major in, graduate school, whom to marry.
The opinions and expectations of others had utterly controlled my life.
And because of that, I had no idea who I was or what I wanted.
Did I love doing things for others because I had a servant’s heart or because I wanted their approval?
Was I a teacher to inspire young minds or because it was expected of me?
Did I volunteer because I genuinely wanted to help or because someone would be disappointed if I didn’t?
The list went on and on.
That’s when I realized I had two choices: I could continue to kowtow to others’ expectations and merely exist, or I could live the life I wanted and risk disappointing someone else.
I chose my own path, and I focused on intent, not expectation.
The idea was a true epiphany and was the cornerstone for The Light of Asteria, where warriors draw power from intent.
I’ve never looked back, and you know what?
I found that having a servant’s heart has nothing to do with people-pleasing and everything to do with understanding a higher purpose.
I do love teaching.
My soul needs a creative outlet, and I refuse to let that need for acceptance steal the joy of creating and sharing stories with the world.
The struggle is real, and while it hasn’t been easy, it’s been worth it. I’ve learned over the years to surround myself with people who can be brutally honest yet unfailingly kind. I’ve learned to create boundaries and say no to the things I don’t want to do. And I’ve turned away from toxic relationships so I can focus on those I respect and love.