Obligation and Going Down the Wrong Path 🚶🏻♀️
I’ve recently been doing a lot of reflecting on how I feel a sense of obligation to others. This obligation tends to manifest in these ways:
doing things that I don’t want to do
not saying how I feel because I don’t want to look like a rude b*tch or hurt their feelings
not taking action that would help me because I feel like I’m putting others out or letting them down
keeping my mouth closed because I don’t want to have awkward conversations
And because of these reasons, I continue down paths I don’t actually want to be on.
I think this really clicked, for me, when, brace yourselves, another quick gym story.
Being Used as a Wingwoman Unwillingly 🦇
Long story short, this guy, who we’ll call Steve, and I started chatting being friendly and casually talking when we’d see each other at the gym.
**BACKSTORY: If you listened to the last Bare Minimum Babe episode “EPISODE 4: Your shine doesn’t dim mine. Other women are NOT your competition" then you know I was chatting up other women to calm my own insecure thoughts and to form a connection to them.***
Well, Steve started to notice I was talking to other women. He started to ask me little questions like “whats her name” and “is she in school,” it was very clear he was asking because he was interested in them.
I started listening more to how these things made me feel instead of ignoring the actual response my body was giving me.
I was NOT interested in playing this game with him. This was also around the time I started to realize Steve was kind of a toolbag and a very negative person, with most of our conversations centering around him complaining about something.
This continued for a little while, until eventually he decided to start coming up to the women while I was talking to them to try and edge into the conversation— where he very clearly wasn’t wanted.
Note: There were also other instances where he would passive aggressively slam down weights on the floor because a guy near him didn’t re-rack the weight so instead of just saying something to the guy directly, he decided to make a little toolbag show. Another time he came up to me MID SET on the back extension machine. See picture below to see why I was irked, to say the least.
Picture above is a Back Extension machine. Do you see why this sh*t would be awkward for someone to come up to you and interrupt? Especially for a woman....
Ruining My Gym Fun 😑
Eventually I would look at the clock anxiously around 6:45am because I knew he would be walking in soon.
I was distracted at the gym thinking things like “sht I’m somewhat near him…is he gonna come over…should I nod or something? If I nod he might take it as a sign that I want to talk when really I’m just acknowledging his existence to not be rude….fckkkk just leave me alone.”
Lots of negative energy and thought going into this situation I no longer wanted to be in. I wanted this to stop and for him to go away.
Personal Training Bullsh*t 🐂
There was this girl I was talking to, we’ll call her Stephanie, and she overlapped with me during workouts so she and I became friendly and exchanged numbers. Eventually, without fail, when she and I would start talking, he would come over...
Fast-forward a few weeks later and as I’m walking out the gym I see Stephanie about to do leg press so I head over to hype her up and say she could add another plate because she’s a bad B, and guess who walks over…Steve.
He turns my quick little hype up into a whole training situation on different foot positions and which muscle it’ll hit better.
Stephanie is then awkwardly stuck on this leg press, see picture below to see why it’s so awkward and why she’s stuck.
Picture above is a Leg Press machine. Poor Stephanie awkwardly lying there...
I’m just standing there like “omg I don’t know how this happened… this is terrible for her. I want to leave.” It was a whole thing. I’m not exaggerating. People were watching.
So after this debacle, I text her as soon as I get in my car and say something like “Wowwww. I can’t even come up to you and talk without him coming up. Also I fully decided I don’t like him. I want him to go away”
We’re chatting for a little while and eventually she says…
“You don’t owe him anything. If you don’t like him and don’t want to talk to him. Then don’t.”
Obvious Advice, Duh Amanda 🙄
This advice sounds so obvious but even as I read it I wasn’t quite convinced or even sure how to do this. It wasn’t until a few days later that I started to rethink how I’ve been framing the situation.
Even though he was a toolbag, I still felt bad for him because I could tell he was a sad toolbag and part of that toolbaggery was probably that sadness and insecurity, so I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.
So because of that, I never fully made it clear that I wanted to be left alone.
PLUS, and most importantly, I was also thinking how “well Amanda you did talk to him and were friendly in the beginning so you kind of encouraged this…”
“Well I encouraged this…” Guilt Tripping Yourself😕
That was a long story but basically, this was a clear example of me clearly NOT liking a situation, person, thing, whatever, but not fully saying this and extricating myself because I felt a sense of like “well I encouraged this.” Because of this thought, I was obligated to keep going down a path I didn’t know how to get off of.
Additionally, I unnecessarily felt obligated to him and his feelings even though I didn’t even like this person and he deserved to be told off.
The more I started thinking about it, I realized I did this in other areas of my life too and always have. Especially if it was something I initially wanted to do but then realized I no longer wanted but continued to do it because I felt a sense of obligation and/or that I encouraged it.
I would think things like:
“didn't I get what I wanted?”
“why don’t I like this anymore?”
“maybe I can just keep reframing things in my mind…it’s only me that’s changed, right?”
I started taking stock of things I actually wanted and the things I didn’t want. I started listening more to how these things made me feel instead of ignoring the actual response my body was giving me.
If it wasn’t me, or my direct family, or legit friends then why do I feel a sense of obligation?
But Why Feel This Way? ❓
Ignoring the fact that women are socialized to be quiet, keep things calm, and to fake smiles and laughter in uncomfortable in situations, we’ve also been trained, at least I know I have, to feel like “well I encouraged this…so I have to see it through and deal with it”
But that’s stupid and hurtful in the long term. Duh. This probably makes complete sense but that doesn’t mean that it’s conscious in your thinking so that you’re able to stop it and shift. The only reason it’s something I’m aware of now is because another woman told me “you don’t have to do anything I didn’t want to” which got me thinking about all the ways in which I do the exact opposite.
What Do I Owe People? 🤷🏼♀️
A quick list of things you owe others:
but more specifically, you do NOT owe anyone…
an explanation for why you can’t do something
a reason why you no longer want to do something
explanation of your life choices
an apology, especially if you're not sorry
special note: don’t apologize for existing and taking up space. 80% of the time you can probably swap “oh I’m sorry!” out for “oh excuse me!”
Cut That Sh*t Out ✂️
Do you have a Steve in your life? For me, my Steve was a toolbag at the gym who I didn’t want to talk to anymore but felt I had no choice because of a sense of obligation of not hurting his feelings if I told him to buzz off and my thoughts of “well, I encouraged this…this is kind of my fault…I guess I need to deal with it.”
If you have a Steve in your life, whether that’s a person, place, activity, whatever it is, you don’t have to continue to do it anymore. You can decide you’re done. You don’t need to feel bad, thinking you “encouraged this.” You’re allowed to change your mind after you have more data to decide if you like it or not. Sermon is over, Amen. 🙏🏻
CLIFF NOTES: 🧗🏻♀️
This episode talked about our sense of obligation to others and how that sense of obligation holds us back because we wasted our energy on things, people, places, etc. that don’t matter, and in the long-run hurt us. So even if you feel like “I encouraged this…I just have to deal with it,”….you don’t. Stop that kind of thinking. Quit guilt tripping yourself.
you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to
you’re allowed to change your mind and course correct after you gather more data and decide you do or do not like something
you don’t need to apologize for existing and taking up space
you’re not responsible for or obligated to other peoples feelings
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