Opinions: Rocca-ing the world: Puppet pleasing


Lauren Rocca

Much like people pleasers, the Pinocchio puppet is controlled by other people.

Recently, I have realized that other people’s’ needs matter along with my own.

I am a die-hard people pleaser, and I used to be unsure of whether this quality is a good or a bad thing.

Now I am sure that people pleasing is not only toxic but also a lie.

Seeking to please others makes me feel like Pinocchio: controlled by other people while my nose gets longer and longer as I try and convince people that making everyone happy makes me happy, too.

Don’t get me wrong. I love seeing people happy. I even love being the cause of people’s happiness.

But there is a fine line between making other people happy because I care and making other people happy because I care about their opinions of me.

I mean, as I picked out my prom dress, all I could think about was what other people would think of me in it. That’s actually ridiculous. The only person who should absolutely like it and feel comfortable in it is…me.

I look for acceptance in so many little things that I do: the pictures I post on social media, the texts I send to other people, the movies I choose to watch, the people I invite to events, even my order at restaurants.

I never realized that people-pleasing had consumed my life or that the smile I plaster on my face even when I’m upset is not necessarily strength but a false facade that keeps me from letting helpful people in.

That fake, convincing smile lengthens my nose, poking away everyone who might just help me.

Furthermore, it makes the people I actually do have a problem with think that everything is okay. And that lets them get away with hurting me.

I’ve heard people saying false things behind my back which hurts, but I “let it go” because it’s just “not worth the fight.”

In a sense, I’ve actually convinced myself that letting situations hurt me instead of standing up for myself and putting wrong people in their place is actually okay. But it is not okay.

And it is okay to let these people know that what they are doing does, in fact, hurt.

Confrontation does not mean that someone isn’t a nice person or that someone lets the little things get to them.

If it hurts, it is not a “little thing.” Not sticking up for yourself actually lets people start to control you, letting them call the shots and pull your strings in whatever direction they choose.

I’ve heard people say right in front of me, “Oh, it’s Lauren. She’ll get over it. She’s too nice to care.”

Sometimes I get caught up in the flattery of being called “nice.” But recently, this has just angered me.

No one is too nice to care about things that hurt them.

Backstabbing hurts nice people just as much as it hurts any other person, getting left out makes nice people feel just as sad as any other person; they just might keep a stiffer upper lip because they are expected to.

So I’ve learned two things that no one ever blatantly told me.

  1. I am not obligated to be nice toward the people who have hurt me.
  2. This does not mean that I am close minded, unkind or a bad person.

It means that I am living the truth. It means that I know to first take care of my emotional health in order to take care of others. It means that I respect myself enough to walk away from the things that hold me back and keep me down.

Instead of trying to please everyone for the sake of being liked, I’ve realized that the best thing to do is ask myself what makes me come alive, then pursue it.

The truth will shrink my nose, let good people in and set me free from the control of others, allowing me to become a person rather than a puppet.