The life of a “giver” is an exhausting, never-ending pathway

I’m a giver. 

I give and give and give, and I don’t expect anything in return. 

It doesn’t matter what it is that is being asked of me, I always push my own feelings and needs aside to fulfill the needs of others. 

I spend hours shopping for the most perfect presents each Christmas season, regarding the money I use for this and convincing myself my friends require expensive gifts to keep them around. I spend hours looking over documents, editing papers, sending homework help, and overall helping others achieve their educational goals while I push aside my own assignments and tell myself “It will only take a little bit of time to finish this for them.”

But that’s not true. 

All these little actions add up, and soon, I’ve spent more time helping others and trying to help others than I do taking care of myself and my needs and wants. 

And although the happiness and relief my time brings to others is satisfactory to me and brings me a small amount of joy, I always end up disappointed in the position I am left in: drained and too exhausted to fully enjoy my life.

I realized this recently when I had to shove several homework assignments into a single hour after I spent my time helping others complete their assignments and trying to look over several papers at once. 

The moment of realization has hit me over and over again as I continue noticing the patterns of my now thoughtless actions to help others.

I keep opinions to myself, even those that simply ask others to stop talking to me in certain ways, to prevent unnecessary drama in that person’s life and to ensure that others won’t have to deal with the outcome of that conversation. 

I found that I was too exhausted at the end of the day to even wash my face; the task seemed meaningless, and I continuously regarded other small daily tasks that I knew would help me feel refreshed if I just spent the same amount of time on myself as I did other people. 

But this doesn’t come easily. 

Yes, I could just start using the word “no” for once in my life for all scenarios, but after I’ve trained myself to only say yes and to deal with the consequences later, this is a difficult task to procure. 

So I’ve started small. 

I’ve started being honest with others in relation to schoolwork and when they ask for help. I do my best to let them down lightly and probably apologize far too much in the process.

Surprisingly, the world hasn’t ended with my doing this. I have kept my friends, and I have not experienced the wrath of others from saying no to editing because I have a busy schedule ahead of me. 

Slowly, I’ve started taking further measures. I speak out when others are hurting me or my friends, and I’ve started to be honest with those around me.

This has been the biggest step I could’ve taken in my life. I now make sure to wash my face, to do a face mask once in a while, and am working on not apologizing as much because, let’s be honest, no one cares that much if I can’t help them for one day. 

We all have our off days or days when we just feel like we can’t handle society. So why do I feel so selfish when we’re honest about these times and need to take some time off to take care of ourselves? Maybe I’ll never know, but for now, I’ll do the next best thing: start taking steps to break through the feelings of anxiety when dealing with my mental and physical health.