Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

I recently went to a school reunion and it showed me how far I’ve come. Everyone remembered me for the shy, quiet girl I was. There were people who I’d known all the way through college and beyond that I eventually lost touch with. It was a weird experience for me. I spent some time with people who were good friends when I was young and most hadn’t changed much.

You can get stuck in old habits and never grow as a person. These people has just gotten older.

From junior high school through college I had a friend name Shari. Toward the end of our school years she became fixated on status. She didn’t date Bob. She dated a dentist. Her whole identity was wrapped around WHAT she was and WHAT she dated and then married. I had a hard time with it, even when I had low self-esteem. We eventually lost touch. When I bumped into her a few years later, I asked how she was. “I’m a doctor’s wife!” she exclaimed. I asked if he had a name and if she had any sense of self left. She gave me a dazed look and I knew why we weren’t friends anymore.

Insecurity leads us to see ourselves by our relation to other people or what we do or what we think others want us to be.

I got married at 20. I didn’t think I should but we’d been together for 3 years and our parents pushed us to commit so marriage become my life track. I became a teacher because I was told that’s a good profession for a woman, though it was the last thing I wanted to do. My parents were proud of me for following what they saw as the norm for women.

DoorMats can’t say “no” or think for themselves and we can lose ourselves by being what others want!

I lost myself. I was someone else’s wife, daughter and teacher but had no idea who Daylle was. It was a sad time for me, beyond just being a DoorMat. The lifestyle I’d created had me living for everyone else. My whole identity revolved around what I did, not who I was. Being a Doormat, my need to please kept me stuck in that mode for years. As more time passed, I became more scared to find out who I was or to create an identity based on just me.

When your sense of self is dependent on who you are to others, you have no sense of self at all!

It felt like it was too late to try. I was resigned to be stuck in that mode. But after a series of events that made me feel less worthless and undeserving of a real life, I slowly dipped my toe into the water of exploration. The more I appreciated myself, the more I looked to find me. Unlike Shari, who’d looked for WHAT she could glom onto, I wasn’t seeking someone or a role. I just did what I was told. Finding me turned into a delightful adventure.

Coco Chanel said, “How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone.

Do you call yourself a business person or a great person? A writer or a happy being? A [whatever you do for a living] or a good soul? A wife or a smart chick? A CEO or passionate guy? Of course I’m a writer too, but it’s not my identity, just a piece. My primary WHO is a spiritual woman who is passion driven in many areas, and a happy, talented chick.

Being a WHAT comes with pressure to fulfill a role. Being YOU means the sky is the limit for being happy and fulfilled. Coco Chanel walked to the beat of her own drum. By doing so, she created an empire inspired by her passion. Now that I know who Daylle is, I’m delighted with the knowledge. It gives me the power to create my own world, instead of living in the shadow of someone else’s.

When I saw Shari at the reunion, she was unhappy and bitter about her life. She’d spent all her energy getting a doctor to marry her and then years trying to make the marriage work. When she finally had what she thought she wanted, she faced the realization that her husband was a controlling, cold man. A doctor, yes. A good, loving husband, no. Far from it! At that point she was unprepared for what to do. Her whole goal in life—to be a doctor’s wife—crumbled into unhappiness.

When you lose yourself in being some else’s someone, you can lose touch with how to be happy.

Pay attention to WHO you are. Is it who you want to be or are you living for someone else. Are you doing what you do to please your mom or spouse, to impress friends or another superficial reason? Too much happiness is lost in trying too hard to be something, instead of someone you like and feel good being. When I left DoorMatville, I also shed the layers of my old identities and became a person in my own right. The happiness I feel is indescribable. If you can’t define WHO you are without a WHAT or someone else, work on it!

Being yourself is a great gift for YOU!

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