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Ask a Friend: Advice Column Week 8

Updated: Apr 9

Hello Parker Press readers! Welcome back to Parker Press' advice column: Ask a Friend. We have created this advice column with the intention to foster a designated safe space for peers to be open about things they might be struggling with or have questions about and give each another guidance. The floor is always open to anyone who is seeking advice! Every posting, Parker Press staff respond to questions they receive under their personal pen names.


HOW TO SUBMIT 

Anyone can submit questions via this form or dm us directly. There are flyers with QR codes around the school that you can use to annonymously submit questions. You can sign your questions with your actual name, your initials, or a pen name---it's completely up to you.


Disclaimer: Advice from Parker Press is given by students on the Parker Press staff and is by no means a professional opinion. While every contributor has the best intentions, please take any advice given with a grain of salt, as every situation is very unique to each individual. Please keep questions school appropriate. Parker Press is by no means obligated to respond to questions that fall outside of these perimeters or are a violation someone's privacy. We hope you enjoy!


Note: If we don't get to your question this posting, stay tuned for the next one, as it may take us a lil while to get to all the submissions we receive!




Q: How can I slowly drift apart from someone/a friend who controls too much of my social life? - Stuck in the Middle


Hello Stuck in the Middle,


I am sorry to hear that your so-called “friend” is trying to control too much of your social life. It sounds like you and this person may be in a toxic friendship that is not benefiting you. It is important to create boundaries for yourself and take back control of your social life. I would recommend telling this person that you think they are being a little too controlling and that you need some time apart. It is considerate to let them know how you have been feeling  so they don’t feel blind sided when you make time for yourself. However, if you don’t feel it is safe or comfortable to tell them I would suggest finding a new crew to start hanging with. If this person asks to hang out and you don’t want to, be honest. I personally believe that letting a situation slowly drag on is the worst thing to do because it is draining for both you and the other person. Honesty is really the best policy. Create that boundary to protect your peace. 


Good luck!

Elizabeth




Q: How can I help myself stop being a people pleaser? I keep being accused of being a pick me girl!

- Frustrated and Exhausted


Frustrated and Exhausted, as an ex people pleaser and ‘pick me girl’ myself I sympathize with your woes. 


I was the Queen of people pleasing in the early years of middle school. At your  beckon and call kind of people pleaser. It was bad. I, naturally, wanted people to like me. So I thought “what better way to do that than to give up 100%  of myself to every single person I interacted with?” This ultimately broke me. I didn't know who I was, I was tired, I hadnt found ‘my people' and I had grown to dislike talking to my peers altogether. Physically, mentally, emotionally, I was over it. But I didn't know that untilI I  wised up three years later (this took a LOT of reflecting). Lucky for you though, you are already there! You have done the hardest parts: you have already identified the problem! A lot of people don't get this far so congrats. But please keep in mind, ending your people pleasing tendencies is a lifelong journey. You can't just hardcore soul search for a couple years and be done. Though you can change your habits drastically in a short period of time, remind yourself to reflect and recalibrate in the wake of new people, relationships, places, or chapters in your life. 


To stop people pleasing you need to figure out why. Everyone has their own trauma or reason but at the root of it we are insecure people who want to be part of a community, have friends, and ultimately be accepted (this is the big one, it's also key to the 'pick me girl’ thing). Getting rejected or outcasted sucks. So, it's easier to conform to those around us to get their approval than to put our real selves out on the chopping block for the risk of rejection. With that in mind, there are three  overarching  things you need to tackle. First is establishing yourself,  the second is wrestling with rejection and the third is having an epic moment of realization.


Let's start with establishing yourself. I have talked a lot about being yourself so far and I realize that might not automatically correlate with people pleasing and pick me girls but it 100%, absolutely, entirely, has everything to do with it. You are actively editing yourself for others, maybe to the point where you don't know who you are, because you think the ‘true you’ isn't good enough, likable, entertaining, or whatever. Soooo, get that notion out of your head. I need you to get to know yourself and learn how cool you are. It's a cheesy cliche for a reason but self acceptance is the key. You don't need to have complete self love or change yourself who you are, just appreciate who you are. Acknowledge the good and the bad. When you are truly secure in who you are, other people's opinions don't matter to you (ergo you will have no reason to people please). That's the ultimate goal. Getting there takes time but here are some things you can do to heal your relationship with yourself:

  1. Spend time alone and have fun doing it. Go to the beach, go to workout class, get lunch, do art, read, spend a day at home, cooking, go on a walk. Try to find something that really images you and resonates with you. Something that is soul healing (it can be simple; for me it's going to the beach and just sitting on the sand and swimming around). If that sounds hippie dippie to  you then you probably haven't found the activity that clicks. And that's ok! Keep looking, this kind of alone time is ESSENTIAL for a couple of reasons:

    1. It gives you a pace to safely reflect and think about who you are.

    2. It sastiates you without affirmation from anyone else and shows you that you don't need others to be happy.

    3. It allows you to observe yourself. What do you like to do? Why? Why does this activity ‘fill my cup’? What do I think about when left to my own devices?

    4. It allows you to develop yourself as yourself - unconnected from anyone else

  2. Talk to yourself. I don't necessarily mean outloud, but find a way to get your thoughts out of your head. Journal, record voice memos, or just talk into the abyss(I'm aware it sounds a little off the rocker but it works). If you can't articulate your thoughts in words, collect art, quotes and images that you resonate with. 

  3. Rid away of the notion of regrets. If you ever find yourself regretting something that you did, think about what you learned from it instead of being mad at yourself. Realize that your many mistakes do not make your foundation weak but instead stronger. More mistakes = more knowledge. This is super important because it will help you forgive yourself, which ultimately allows you to accept ALL of yourself.


The second thing you have to do is embrace your fear of rejection. I won't lie, this is challenging. Putting yourself out there as 100% you is scary and will make a couple people do a double take. When I embraced who I was and took my new wheels for a spin, I began to drift away from some of my friends. And that was ok. Because why would I want to be friends with people who don't fully embrace me? There will be people who you will not appease to AND THAT IS OK.  I now realize those were the people who hung around me because I was at their beckon and call and because I had morphed myself to fit into their  world. However you will find that once free from people pleasing tendencies, you will form deep, real relationships with those around you. Shed of a superficial layer, you will attract those who appreciate your uniqueness and vulnerability and who will want to hang out with you because of who you are, not because you serve them. 


Ok, last thing, your epic moment of realization. This whole section might not make sense but that's ok. This will come in time. It will all click. I can guarantee you that what I wrote will not give you that epic moment of realization. That's because it's all just advice; for it to become real YOU need to experience it yourself. People had been telling me the same things I'm telling you all along but I didn't realize what they meant until I, well, realized it. And it happens when you really dig deep. 


Good luck on your journey to freedom. Remember, other people's opinions of you really don't matter, you can't be everyone's best friend and all of this is just my advice. I'm also going through the same journey and there is a lot I don't know.


Your favorite,

Kozy



Q: “I want to stand up for a friend, but when I do I get told to mind my own business even though I know they are upset or hurting. How do I go about this? All I want to do is help.”

- your undercover empath


Firstly, I think that what you’re doing is incredibly brave and caring. It can be really hard to put someone else’s needs before your own and this is what you are doing. In this situation I think there could be a few options to get through to your friend. 


First, if what is happening is taking place in a group situation and it is others that are telling you to “mind your own business” then you need to start by finding some time to get you and your friend alone and in a good place to talk. In doing this it can be easier to really address what is happening because you don’t have others distracting you and shrugging off the problem. Furthermore, when you are in this position where you have the opportunity to talk with your friend one-on-one I think the best thing to do is start by plainly asking how they are doing. If they completely open up after just asking this one simple question then that is perfect and you can continue the conversation by asking how you can support them and what they need. However, if they disregard the question and claim to just be fine then look at them (ideally try and have eye-contact because I think this helps get your message through) and express that you can tell something is wrong and that you want to help them work through it no matter what they need. I think this kind of sincere direct communication can really help connect you with whoever you are helping and make them truly understand that all you want is for them to feel better. 


However, if this is not the situation and it’s not other people but your friend themself that is telling you to “mind your own business” then I think you will want to address the situation a little bit differently. Since you’ve already tried to address the problem by attempting to talk with them, maybe you need to try another route. Try writing a letter, in this case you have a lot more control over what you say because you have time to think about what it is you want to communicate. This can be especially helpful if you know you want to talk with this person but you're having trouble communicating the right words to get your message across. After writing your letter you can either slip it into their backpack or even send it to them through the mail. After they receive it hopefully they will recognize that you truly care and they will then come to you instead of you having to come to them. Though this may be a slower process I think it can be really powerful and effective because you can only help someone if they want to be helped and if your letter evokes them to come to you then you know they are willing to receive assistance and support. 


I hope this helps with what you are dealing with, and just remember that what you’re doing is really important so don’t be put off by the words of others. 


Best regards, 

Jane

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