That title sounds big and bold, but honestly, that is fitting for this lesson. The biggest lesson I learned is one I think many are lacking. One that is extremely important in maintaining good mental health. This lesson is one that involves clear regularly communicated boundaries.
So what is it?
If someone asks you about your personal life you do not have to answer because they do not necessarily have any rights to that answer.
There are people in my life that have a role that gives them the right to ask and expect an answer. For example, my partner has a right to certain information because we established a relationship where they is both expected and practiced.
My mother however does not because I am an adult, but I choose to share information with her because she has earned my love and trust through constant growth and battles between us.
My boss is entitled to information regarding my work.
My doctor is entitled to information regarding my health.
These roles give someone rights to information, but those expectations can disappear if a relationship ends. Like if I decide to transfer care or I decide to not disclose information due to a lack of trust with said provider.
The boundaries are set to begin with and if they change there is a communication. The information shared benefits both parties.
My doctor can do their job and I can access care. My boss and I can work seamlessly and complete projects. My partner and I can support each other and function in the ways our household needs.
But sometimes along comes a person who wants information that they are not entitled to and may use in a harmful way. I have found that even outside of high school these sharks are all around and the repercussions are much worse in adulthood. One year into my twenties I find myself wanting to share less and learning how powerful what I share is.
Every time I share information it is a gift of love or hate. When I share my deepest emotions and struggles of the day or I share the best parts of my day with my partner it is out of love. I share this information because there is love and trust and he has earned a spot in my life where he can experience the gift of doing life beside me. When I tell someone that I do not like their outfit that is a gift of hate which is why I would not tell them. I would keep that thought in my head, or tell my partner about the crazy outfit later on.
Those unsolicited opinions or uncomfortable prying questions towards someone you are not genuinely, actively caring for are just a reflection of hate inside of yourself.
These lessons have left me with a desire to share less online and less with people in my life that have not actively made an effort to build a positive relationship.
When people ignore set boundaries I am learning that I am allowed to leave the situation and choose not to interact with that person.
My mom used to tell me that life is uncomfortable, but I don't think it has to be. I do not think we have to force ourselves through painful situations.
I am a selfish person, but I think I am selfish in the best ways. I step back when I need to and I keep information that I view as personal and private to myself. I think the bad kind of selfish is when you believe you are entitled to information in someone's life when you have not earned a spot there.
In a world where everything is accessible online I find it even more sacred to keep information private.
My hobbies, fertility, career, and mental health status are personal pieces of information that I am only obligated to share with the people I choose and I have the power and control over my own life to change who that is at any point. We do not have to be uncomfortable and we do not have to share everything with everyone.
I used to have a friend that said "sharing is caring". Don't share information with people who don't actually care about you. They might care generally, but in that moment do they care about you or the entertainment factor of what you are about to say?
10:52pm Thursday rant over...
Jess is a full spectrum birth and postpartum doula and a newborn care specialist. She has been working with newborns for nearly 9 years.