Remember when I said I’d be back writing another substantial piece within two weeks and then proceeded to basically disappear – or at the very least not write a single word publicly – for an entire nine months?
Yup, fun times.
I remember, back in January, being quite excited about tackling the next theme on my list. After having written about autonomy, my next piece was going to be about BOUNDARIES.
And that’s when life went, “Wait, hold my beer!”
Fittingly – I am writing about boundaries, after all – I won’t disclose all that went down during these last nine months.
Because there are many unresolved situations still.
Because my purpose here isn’t to air out anything in public.
Because it’s actually not necessarily relevant to what I want to talk about today.
All I’ll say is that there’s been a lot of struggle involved, on so many plans. And that I know I’m not the only one who’s been struggling – and struggling hard. I’ve been having conversation after conversation where womxn – not exclusively, but mostly – have shared how they’re simply at the end of their rope in almost every aspect of their life, and don’t know where to go from there.
While they don’t say outright that they feel taken advantage of, it’s what can be perceived through the words, and often through the tears.
We keep finding ourselves in untenable situations.
Now, as you’re reading this, depending on your age, on your gender, and on your upbringing, you may realize that your experience is different. We can only (truly) write from what we know. This is what I know.
I know that I – like so many womxn my age – have been conditioned to be always agreeable. To keep the peace. To “make the best” of every situation because others have it worse. To be generous, no matter the personal cost.
You know what? I call bullshit. It’s not sustainable.
And this is where boundaries come in.
Now, my close friends know that I’m ALL ABOUT BOUNDARIES. (Like, we have this running joke that we need to create a gif of me chanting “Boun-da-ries!” because that’s what I keep doing IRL.)
Let me be very clear: boundaries have never come very easily to me. Like any skill, they require a shit ton of practice. (Imagine how much practice you think is required, and then easily double that.)
Here’s the essential aspect, though: boundaries are how you teach the world how to treat you.
Let me repeat this for the ones in the back:
BOUNDARIES ARE HOW YOU TEACH THE WORLD HOW TO TREAT YOU.
And that includes yourself (because, darling, you’re part of the world too, and you need to be taught how to treat yourself as well).
Boundaries don’t mean that we’re hiding behind thick walls. In fact, they can even help us become more open with the people around us, because we’re choosing how to engage with them in a very deliberate manner (it’s very freeing, I promise).
Boundaries help us make space in our life for the things that really matter, and the things that are good for us.
Only we can decide what really matters to us (because autonomy). As for what’s good for us… that’s where it can get a little more complicated.
Setting good boundaries – with the world and with ourselves – implies that we can get very clear about the distinction between what we want, and what we need. Not that they can’t be one and the same (and when that happens, it’s truly wonderful).
But often, they’re not quite as aligned.
And so it can mean that having good, healthy boundaries steer us away from things that we really, really wish were good for us… but aren’t. In practical terms, that can be:
- Refraining from engaging with certain forms of social media – or certain accounts – when we inevitably find ourselves feeling frustrated or depleted after having done so.
- Taking a step back in some “friendships” that may be rooted in sharing-gossip-as-connection instead of being built from real intimacy and vulnerability.
- Walking away from professional opportunities when we find they don’t allow us to remain aligned with our values.
- Choosing to courageously step away from relationships that are objectively hurting us more than they’re healing us (yes, it’s scary; yes, it’s necessary).
Boundaries aren’t easy. In fact, they’re downright uncomfortable (at least at first). But they’re vital. They allow us to show up on our own terms and to engage with the world as our best selves.
Where are your boundaries?