This post is for the plan instigators, the conversation starters, the catch up makers, the ‘mums of the group’, the people who make shit happen. I see all that you’re doing and I want you to know that it is appreciated!
This is also a reminder for the people who benefit from their friendly neighbourhood instigator to make sure those people know how much you appreciate them and all they do for you.
Every friend group ends up with at least one of these sensible, organised people who take charge and make plans happen. The ones who set up the group chat, who book the tickets or who prompt you to let them know when you have free time to then cross reference that with everyone involved before letting you know what’s going to happen. These are incredibly useful people to have around.
But there can be a complacency, at times, towards these people because we become so reliant on their ‘have-their-shit-togetherness’ that we sometimes forget to ackowledge the effort they’re putting in. Given their natural tendencies towards taking charge, the instigators themselves probably wouldn’t have it any other way but at times it can feel like you’re being taken for granted, or that you’re always giving out more effort than you’re getting back. Sometimes it gets to the point where the effort feels so unbalanced, you wonder if people would talk to/see you if you weren’t the one instigating the plans. That said, there needs to be acknowledgement that not everyone’s brains function the same way as yours does and your friends probably do really appreciate that you’re the one who does all those things, even if they don’t always make you feel like they do.
I think the need to take charge comes from having the talents of organisation and proactivity but also from a need to people please. (On people pleasing: this episode of Elizabeth Day’s How To Fail podcast really resonated with me, it’s a good listen!) Us people pleasers know how hard it can be to say no to people, especially when you’re a Type A person confident to take on the task but a lot of the time we’d actually benefit more from setting bondaries rather than overextending ourselves, again. Cue: Say No To This from Hamilton (although not the context I’m meaning, lol).
After a while, it can be quite easy to reach a point of relational burnout, which feels pretty crap. Especially if you’re left wondering if your efforts are worth it. So say it with me, people: boundaries are our friends! Say no sometimes! This article by Deb Sofield speaks pretty strongly on setting limits when you’re a ‘giver’ so that others don’t get too used to you picking everything up and you can build more equal, reciprocal relationships with other people. After all, there is a mental load attached to being the project manager of a group of people (more on that in this article from Leah Ryder) and you don’t actually always have to be the one who picks up the social labour.
You really have to pick your battles and weigh up which relationships are worth spending your energy on, because you only have a limited amount. The other challenge is trying to separate your feeling valued with the actions or responses of other people. I know how hard that is, but it’s important to work towards.
I feel like I’ve just gone on a tangent and not actually come to any point or conclusion with this post but I will say this:
I am not an expert at this or anywhere near perfect when it comes to setting boundaries or not valuing myself based on other people. I wrote this article because it’s something that comes up for me quite often and if I can acknowledge these things and put them out in the world, it makes me more accountable to continuing to get better at handling these situations myself and avoiding getting caught up in an internal shitstorm of overthinking whether I’m doing enough or being too much.