There’s something important that every student and new reporter should know before they hit the working world. In life, and especially working life, you’ll be encouraged to be a pleaser. People will ask for tighter deadlines with no additional pay. People will ask for favors that will go forever unreturned. There will be great pressure on some of you externally and internally to be a certain way, do a certain thing, or agree when you’d rather not.
The very unfortunate truth is that you can be all the people and do all the things expected of you. You can get on that hamster wheel of expectation and run until tired. And when you are tired, there is no gold medal or ebb. There is disappointment. The same people that lifted you up when you were doing them a favor will hate you. The same people that told you what a wonderful job you were doing when you were doing a job for them will talk about you behind your back. Those same people who were urging you to speak out and be a part of the conversation will seek to silence you.
Can you stop the disappointment paradigm? I don’t think so. But remember that you are always in full control of your train. You can balance the demands placed on you. The favors you do for people should be done either without expectation or with expectations made clear. You can be a good person and still set boundaries. In fact, I’ve found that you need to set boundaries or you lose the ability to be a good person. You lose your humanity altogether and get treated like furniture. Your favors are there, and “appreciated,” like a fine rug.
So set boundaries. Be willing to help those in need. But also be willing to say no. So many of us suffered so much from being unable to say no that by the time we learned to say no, it became all we could say. Being an altruist requires you to be strong and give yourself recharge time to help others. Being a hard worker requires much of the same so that you can continue to do great work. Listen to your body and mind, give yourself time to recharge, because chances are pretty high that there’ll be work to do and people to save tomorrow. The day you give yourself won’t mean very much to anyone else, even if they go on about how disappointed they are, but it’ll mean the world to you.