Concessions.. and not the popcorn variety

I’ve often been accused of being too flexible. The Queen of the concession. Driven by an insatiable need to be liked, I’ll be whatever and whoever you want me to be. I’ve become many different people through the years with the sole aim of appealing to someone or fitting into their idea of who they wanted. I’ve been Disco Rachael, Indie Rachael, Homemaker Rachael, Introvert Rachael, Extrovert Drunk Rachael, Fashionista Rachael, Adventure Planning Rachael, Workaholic Rachael and far too many times, Spineless Rachael.

Appeasing other people is how I wound up studying something ‘useful’ instead of something I loved, got into rollerblading (thankfully short-lived, though I’m sure a few people have flown to Vancouver BC to explicitly do something they hate), bought 100 year old houses I was ambivalent about, lived with a dog who liked to bite people and who my husband preferred to me, sat through every friggin’ Star Wars movie, moved to Seattle despite a hatred of rain, treated entire families I’d never met to Indians tickets, listened to music which made me consider figurative suicide.. the list is frighteningly long. I’ve thrown away friendships, rearranged my life, purged my bank account.. all in the name of being someone else. Someone you’ll like more.

Sometimes I lost myself completely and the outcomes weren’t pretty when I finally resurfaced. No, this isn’t ‘natural evolution’ for me, but a series of ‘sure’ ‘ok’ ‘sounds fun’ ‘ I love Yo La Tenga’ until suddenly you can’t remember what you really like to do, who you were, who you are. It’s a long process to get back to ‘you’ and you become weirdly protective of yourself as a result.

So after a few years of living single and selfishly, my desire to bend, to make every concession to who I am has all but been eliminated. I am firmly myself. I like to hike. I like getting dirty in the yard. I like restaurants with tablecloths. Oh, and I hate Yo La Tenga.  With a passion.

While I’m still willing to flex to accommodate the things I can’t change or to try something that sounds fun, I’ve stopped short of becoming a different person to please or appeal to someone. It’s made me a stronger, more confident person. But it also creates somewhat of a nervous knee jerk reaction to making concessions. If I concede, change my plans, flex what I consider appropriate.. am I giving up myself? Am I returning to old habits? Am I losing myself again? It’s a terrifying prospect after how much I fought to reclaim who I am.

This month I keep running into that fear. After a sleepless night, arguments in my head at 2am and a reassessment of a situation, I decided to make a big concession – not who I am, or what I value – but still a concession. I’m still not sure whether I can do this – be myself and have it be enough. But I can’t be friends with someone, be with someone, work with someone and not flex, be willing to do things which I don’t like or don’t want. Its just not possible and I don’t want to turn into the weirdo spinster with 17 little dogs who works at the charity shop.
The questions remains whether I have the courage to flex without losing myself. I guess as long as I stay away from Yo La Tenga.. thats a start.

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