For most of my life, I have ignored the importance of separating myself from my work. As a single 30-something with no kids, it is a pretty natural existence. Divulging myself so far into my career worked really well, until I owned a business. Battles feel different when you are the tip of the spear, and the career oriented lifestyle I had maintained for so long started to eat away at me. Becoming an entrepreneur brought what felt like a great running car to a screeching halt, sending me through the windshield and straight onto the wicker couch in my therapist’s office.
It took a long time for me to comprehend, but I eventually realized that I had given myself away in order to meet everyone else’s needs. That’s what you are supposed to do in business, right? You have to “grind” and “hustle” and be the first person to answer, and don’t you dare forget to smile while you do it. Being a female business owner doesn’t make that any easier, but we will cross that bridge another day.
Over time, my need to achieve became a need to please. I was a prisoner of expectation, and none of the expectations were mine. Like most situations that confine us, I felt hopeless, anxious and at times, bitter. When I became physically ill and the exhaustion finally took over, I was forced to take a step back and examine not only the lack of boundaries I had made for myself, but all of the ways I could rebuild them. I didn’t have to look much further than my own hand and the phone glued to it.
“What are your prices?”
“Can you check my membership?”
“Why did you change class times?”
“Can you sign me in? I forgot to and now I can’t record my workout.”
“Can you sponsor my kid’s (fill in the blank)?”
The convenience of messaging, Facebook Messenger in particular, is undeniable. What better way to reach anyone you want, whenever you want to?
Ah, wait! There it is. “Anyone YOU want, whenever YOU want.” You, you, you. What about me? Do I have a say in this? If the tables are turned, do you have a say in who can message you and when?
Boundaries shattered. All access passes initiated. Impending doom.
Let me start by saying that most messages I receive to this day are simple and (usually) reasonable. At no time did anyone reach out to me on social media concerning an emergency, but you can bet that I treated each request like it was. I mean, I am a go-getter stuck in a world of expectations. I must react.
To make sure I could always get back to people quickly, I lived with my phone, ultimately putting myself into a state of constant reaction. If I couldn’t answer right away, then I would think about the correct responses incessantly until I could write back.
As my body started to tell me it had had enough, message notifications began to spur a physical reaction in me. My muscles would tighten throughout my entire being, as if I was bracing for a punch, my heart would pound so loudly I was sure you could hear it and my stomach would ache as if that impending punch had actually landed right square in my gut.
Why could something so simple as a message cause such a wrenching effect? For me, it was simple. The lines between myself and my business were already blurred, and the parts of myself that were left, were being invaded by messaging systems that allowed me to be reached at any time, on any topic, by anyone.
Like most situations in life, I can’t control anything other than my reaction. If I was going to feel better and give myself an opportunity to get back to myself, I had to take action. Unfortunately, I can’t dismantle messaging systems, totally delete my Facebook or run a business without a phone (or maybe I am not willing to try). So, I took action in the place I can control most: my boundaries.
I wholeheartedly believe that Facebook Messenger is the armpit of humanity. I am convinced that Messenger, the Instagram Inbox and their cousin the text message, were solely sent here to invade our peace. To make it worse, these messages are accompanied by awful sounds and red flags that tell me not only that I have to act but I MUST act now.
Bologna. I know better now.
Here’s what I am required to do when I receive a message: nothing.
I don’t owe anyone, anything, especially if it costs me my peace. The beauty of being a living, breathing, thinking human is that I get to decide how I respond and when I respond to the world around me. Even better- I get to decide if I respond to it at all.
“But Taylor, you manage a business. You will miss out on clients if you don’t respond right away.”
Well, part of that is right. I do manage a business.
That business doesn’t manage me.
The business I manage also has an e-mail address, a website full of information, and its own social media platforms for contact and inquiries. MOVE 304, like other organizations, has built-in platforms to answer questions and help people learn more about what we do because that is how we start a relationship with our clients.
I am not MOVE 304. I am a person with a life, a family, and a need for an identity outside of work.
So are you.
The internet and social media have weighed heavily on the amount of personal energy we each are expected to give away. Don’t give in to it. Don’t sit in reaction mode while life is happening around you. Not a single response, client or question is worth losing the time and energy you have saved for yourself. Take it from me.
And don’t hit me up on messenger.
#FindingFreedom #MentalHealthMatters #FacebookMessenger