March 10, 2016
I like to make things easy for other people.
Maybe you’re saying, “Oh, Sam, that’s so nice.”
I’ve definitely patted myself on the back for being soooooo nice.
But I’m beginning to realize that it’s all wrong. It’s not about me being nice. It’s about guilt.
Every time I am in a position where I create more work for someone I am wracked with guilt. And I know that sounds just like something you say, but I mean it. My chest clenches up, my stomach freaks out, and I get so wired with nerves that my hands constantly move, I pace around and I can’t stop talking.
Guilt has been a constant in my life for as long as I can remember. But for the first time ever, I’m beginning to wonder if maybe I don’t deserve it.
I often roll my eyes at the rallying call that women need to stop saying they’re sorry. I really value apologies and I think it’s dumb to critique women’s language.
But I’m starting to realize that the real point isn’t just correcting language, it’s correcting how we think about ourselves, our worth and our voices. It’s as if by constantly doing what’s easiest for others, I’m apologizing for existing.
It’s like I’m completely wrapped up in the fact that I have a place at the table that I want to be at. I am in a place to create media that changes people’s lives and that rethinks what journalism can be.
I’m hyper-aware that this place I’ve
been given EARNED at the table is precious and I don’t want to screw it up.
I want to be likable and wanted so no one can kick me out. But that’s not helpful. It’s not helpful to me, to my business or to the world for me to just make things easy. Because they’re not.
I’m starting to realize that what’s more important than being wanted at the table is being needed there. And perhaps the only way to do that is by unapologetically voicing opinions, questions and fears regardless of whether that makes things more difficult or not.
I’ve very nearly made two terrible decisions in the last two weeks because I was trying to make things easy.
In the first, Driven was working on a contract with another organization who we’re going to be producing content for and we had some disagreements about ownership. It was nothing bad, nothing out of the norm. They were trying to make sure that they got the fair deal and we were doing the same– well I wasn’t. I kept arguing that we were holding the other party up and that we were just making things difficult for them. Luckily my partner has more courage than I and refused to settle.
In the second, it was the woman who is helping us file our taxes (glamorous I know) who broke me out of my passivity. We’d planned for quite a while to file our taxes in a way that kept Driven’s partners from having to do anything different on their individual returns. The tax woman took a closer look at our plan and was very honest about the fact that she thought it was a terrible idea.
The way she wanted us to file greatly increased the amount of work each of us individually would have to put into filing our own taxes. Luckily, once again, my partners knew that taking the easy way out was going to hurt Driven and that wasn’t worth it.
Driven is led by a team, so there’s always someone to check my thinking and my decisions. Realizing how invaluable that check is and how important the strength of my partners is, has me questioning how I make decisions about the thing that only I control– my life.
In a very practical and present way me refusing to be difficult is a problem for Driven. But it’s also a fundamental flaw in the foundation of my life. If I’m constantly making decisions based off guilt and fear, what kind of life am I living? What opportunities have I missed?
I’m finally realizing that standing up for yourself doesn’t make you a bad person.
And it doesn’t make you a good person to be a push-over.