I should probably say that I have learnt a lot about Law over the last three years – but I’m not really sure that I have. In the midst of all the cases, legislation, academic reviews and never-ending judgements that I had to read, there is one lesson that will remain etched in my brain as a result of studying Law:
No satisfaction will ever come from people pleasing
Earlier today, when the examiner said ‘stop writing’ and I had finished my final exam, the thing that everyone told me I would feel was the one thing I did not feel and that was a ‘sense of accomplishment’. Instead, I felt relief – not because I potentially had a Law Degree to my name (only results day will tell), but because I felt like I had done what so many people expected of me. It was more of a, ‘I’m so relieved, I hope I’ve met everyone’s (real or perceived) expectations of me because I didn’t drop out like I wanted to in first year’.
I know this is not the response people expect from me, especially in the midst of the sincere ‘congratulations’ and ‘I’m proud of yous’, which I really do appreciate with all my heart – who doesn’t know that love words of affirmation?! With that said I really wanted to be honest (as always) and share with you how I actually feel.
When it comes to things in life, I really think you have to do them for you, not in a selfish or unwise way but in a ‘I’m owning this choice and this is what I want to do’ kind of way because if you don’t and you pass through life and accomplish things for the sake of other people, you will never feel satisfied and you will feel like you have not done anything.
The reason I feel so drained and exhausted right now isn’t because I have finished a hard degree, people graduate from Law every single year. Neither is it because I had so much caffeine staying up to revise that I had diarrhoea this morning and still majorly dehydrated. The reason I am so lethargic is that it takes so much energy to strive for something you don’t really want in order to please other people. It takes energy to work at something just to have yet another qualification or award to my name for other people.
Yes, okay I know what you’re probably thinking: … it’s great to have a fancy degree to your name, ‘law will open so many doors’ and so on and so forth. But try to think beyond my degree and make this personal for you because no doubt you are not going to get why I’m not jumping for joy that I potentially have a Law Degree to my name. This isn’t about not wanting to put in hard work/effort, nor is this about trying to be lazy and have everything handed to you on a plate. This is about asking yourself what the driving force is behind why you do things? Think about the day to day things that you do or even say, not necessarily to help anyone else but simply to meet another’s expectation. Let me ask you this, ultimately when you have done or said all those things are you honestly left feeling satisfied and accomplished?!
people pleasing pleases everybody but the pleaser
My Law degree has taught me that there is only one person who it feels great to please, the One who equipped me to finish my degree even though I was finishing for the wrong reasons, the One who has got me through everything I have faced so far. Conveniently enough that One already thinks I’m great – God loves me at my worst, He still chooses me when I’m awful, He thought I was incredible before studying law and He loves me just the same now. You see it is so draining to try to perform for everyone, but it is liberating performing for an audience of one because He cares about who you are more than what you do.
The moral of the story is, if you are doing something in order to meet another person’s perceived or real expectation or standard of you, then either change your perspective or don’t bother to do it at all because the road of people pleasing never leads to satisfaction.
I guess me writing this blog is also a way of getting past the expectation that I should feel accomplished because I have finished my degree. Anyway, I am going to sleep now because I really am tired.
Hello Ruth, I salute your efforts all through the years. I hope you eventually find satisfaction as you carry on through life… want to appreciate you for this write up, it came in just in time and so revealing. Bless your heart real good.
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