The pressure of people-pleasing

6 mins read

Today is world mental health day. So, we’re going to confess to that one thing we all do; people-pleasing. However, what we often don’t do is talk about the pressures of it.

Especially on the mind.

People-pleasing is truly awful for you because it doesn’t benefit yourself. I’m not saying go forth and be a bitch, but definitely be mindful of yourself. Don’t change who you are to please or impress people, it takes too much effort, and they’ll likely never appreciate that.

Now, I can first-hand admit to being a people pleaser. It’s in my blood. My mum loves making people feel good about themselves so maybe I learned it from her. One day in my fourth year of high school, my beloved guidance teacher said something that would stick with me forever;

“A small compliment can go a long way. You could make someone’s day!”

And so, that’s what I wanted to become; the person that makes your day. There’s something about pleasing people I just can’t let go of.

Maybe it’s because it’s what I’ve always done. Perhaps it’s the satisfaction of knowing I’ve made an impact on someone. Or maybe it’s just simply because it’s easier to be liked than disliked.

Honestly, I’m not entirely sure if that’s an answer I want to face yet.


All my life I’ve had to work hard. There have always been expectations heavily rested on my shoulders. So, making mistakes wasn’t really something I wanted to do, because I always get it right. It sounds like my ego is huge, but the reality is that I’m so afraid of failure that I’ll go the distance to please.

Even if there’s no success at the finish line.

Living alone made me notice these little things about myself. When some of my friends read this, they’ll have opinions. Ones I’ll either agree with or ignore because I’m looking for an argument. I’m just admitting to one of my many flaws; I’m a people pleaser.

I enjoy making people feel important; like how I want to feel. It doesn’t mean I’m not honest about my opinions by any means. If you do something problematic, I’ll have something to say about it. The friends who really know me know that I can be ruthlessly honest.

Honesty is always the best policy; sometimes I just sugar coat mine, it doesn’t make it any less true.

Being not the best I can be is an opinion. I’m my mum’s youngest child, her only daughter, and the only kid to go to university. Sometimes it feels like the option to fail was never there for me. From day one I was labelled as ‘The Good Girl’

And she doesn’t fail. The Good Girl goes through the storm and wears the rain like Gucci. She doesn’t complain about university hardship. After all, she’s the ‘clever one’ and she has a bright future.

Everything else is side-lined. I can’t remember the last time I asked my family for help, because I don’t want to take. But they help me, and I don’t feel deserving of it. I should be able to manage by myself, but I still take what I’m given.

Because as much as I hate to admit it, I need help sometimes.


I needed help when I was formally diagnosed with dyslexia after so long. I didn’t tell many people because I thought it might be stressful for them. I didn’t formally complain when I experienced racism with a member of staff at my university because I didn’t want to cause a fuss.

I don’t like causing disruption; I like going with the good vibes.

I see them as “me problems” through and through. From childhood traumas to my issues surrounding my skin colour. So, I don’t talk about the big things because they’re not always happy and sunny.

But like a friend once said to me; I have learned.

That not everyone expects a flawless friend. Sometimes, it’s okay to disappoint those around you. It’s healthy to make mistakes and reflect on them, even if it does kill me inside. There will be things I’ll regret; I can’t live life like a scripted drama series.

I’m going to fail, and then I’ll pick myself up again, and keep going. Sometimes, you’ll disappoint people and that’s okay. Do what’s best for you and your mind, they should be your top priority. Be mindful of your limits and take breaks when you need them.

Put yourself first when you need to; the people can wait.

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Deputy Editor of Brig Newspaper. Fourth year journalism and English student at the University of Stirling. Lover of covering social issues and creator of 'The Talk' column for everyone who needs to hear it.

Deputy Editor of Brig Newspaper. Fourth year journalism and English student at the University of Stirling. Lover of covering social issues and creator of 'The Talk' column for everyone who needs to hear it.

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