“You have to be able to set boundaries, otherwise the rest of the world is telling you who you are and what you should be doing. You can still be a nice person and set boundaries.”
– Oprah Winfrey
A lot of people, especially the ladies, young and old alike, tend to be People Pleasers. The Female Gender is sort of conditioned to be ‘nice’ and do what other people ask of them, even if it is to their detriment.
Sasha is the first of seven children, the experimental child. As you know, a Baby doesn’t come with a ‘How To Bring Up A Child’, manual, you simply follow your instinct, repeat what you learnt from your parents and other people and take people’s advice, nilly-willy.
Everybody had their two-pennies worth of advice on how Sasha’s parents should bring her up. Sasha’s Mum is a very nice woman and a People Pleaser, so she very much listened and tried to execute every adviser’s advice to make them happy. Sasha too, being a good, well-brought up child, tried very much to be obedient to her parents and their relatives.
She did very well in school, always in the top five. She was neat and tidy. She ate her food and vegetables. She didn’t like meat and chicken much, so she swapped her meat and chicken, with her siblings for plantain or something else. She was always polite to her parents’ relatives and did her best to imbibe the culture correctly.
Every relative wanted to exert their authority on Sasha. One of her Aunties told Sasha off for calling her ‘Aunty’, instead of ‘Mummy’ 🙄. One of her Uncles told Sasha’s Mum that Sasha was stupid, because she courtesied to him beside a stool and not right in front of him. Another Uncle ticked her off for addressing him by his name and not including the title, ‘Uncle’.
In order to avoid all these relatives, Sasha chose to go to a Boarding School, 300 Kilometres away from home. She left home at the age of ten. On completing Secondary School, she moved even further away, over 800 Kilometres away from home. She was freer with less direct contact with her parents’ relatives, but not completely free. Some of Sasha’s parents’ relatives always had some comment to pass about her to her parents, getting her parents worried and agitated unnecessarily. Luckily, they couldn’t do much from 800 km away, but Sasha didn’t like these relatives, poking their noses into her affairs and upsetting and feeding her parents with lies.
One day, during her second year in university, Sasha received a fourteen page letter from her Mum and a two page letter from her Mum’s cousin, who was a Professor. The letters stated that Sasha didn’t attend her lectures and when she did, she arrived late. The letters went on to say, she was always going to parties, that she didn’t have a designated university accommodation, that slept in the Boy’s Hostel, that she was sleeping around. Her Mum’s cousin in his letter said that he wondered how Sasha passed her exams from the first to the second year of University.
Sasha was highly irritated by the letters, but more by the fact that her parents’ relatives had struck again. She made up her mind that day, that she had had enough and was putting a complete stop to all this rubbish from her parent’s relatives.
Sasha sat down took pen to paper and replied to her Mum’s letter. She started by telling her how much she loved her. She made it clear to her Mum that she was replying to this letter because she knows she would be worried and she would like to put her mind at ease. Sasha told her Mum that she did not want her High Blood Pressure to be aggravated by the nonsense her relatives are spouting about her. Sasha also told her Mum that her cousin, the Professor had also written to her about the same thing, but she was not going to reply to his letter because she didn’t owe him or anyone any explanations.
Sasha responded to each paragraph in her Mum’s neat fourteen page letter and told her exactly what happened. She told her Mum that she attends all her lectures. She explained in her letter to her Mum that she was late for one lecture on one occasion because she had to go to the Ladies. She let her Mum know that she does have a room in the university in the Girl’s Hotel and she included her which Hostel and her Room Number in her letter.
Sasha. explained to her Mum that she does go to the odd party. Nothing wrong with that. She also let her know that she didn’t have a boyfriend and was not sleeping around. She told her Mum that she passed from Year One to Year Two by studying smart and hard.
Sasha then informed her Mum that that was the last time she was ever going to explain herself to her or to her Dad, or to any of their relatives or to anyone in general.
She advised her Mum to learn to be strong and to tell her relatives that she didn’t want to hear any un-constructive tales they had to say about her children. She told her Mum to tell Dad that if he wasn’t happy with her, She would happily change her name, renounce the family name and adopt the name ‘Brown’ 😊 and she meant it.
Sasha’s parents knew that she meant what she said. She told them that as long as whatever she did caused no harm to anyone, she would do as she pleases and never explain ever herself to anyone, ever again.
As soon as Sasha finished writing that letter, she felt an enormous sense of relief. Just by making up her mind never to explain her actions to anyone ever again and committing to paper, at least, to her Mum, she felt free.
Sasha felt free of all those family shackles. She set the boundaries in her life, which she maintains to date.
Never Complain – Never Explain!
Her parents’ relatives backed off and she had minimal dealings with them from then on till now.
Sasha was lucky that should could exercise these boundaries at a young age, learnt to say ‘No’ and to stand her ground. She felt great! This habit has served her in good stead to date, with relatives, friends, acquaintances and colleagues. It’s never too late to set those important boundaries for one’s life.
Choose those you want to associate with.
Learn to say ‘No’ to requests and things that don’t suit you.
Set your own rules for yourself.
Sasha learnt that you can never please anyone ever, so don’t bother, just please yourself 😊
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