I’m not going to lie to you… I love to open presents. There is something incredibly special about the fact that someone has thought of me and that the thoughtfulness is present in such a tangible way. A certain magic exists in the surprise and suspense of opening a gift that is especially meant for me. Because of this magic, I absolutely LOVE to give gifts. I adore giving a person that same sense of elation as they unwrap a present, and I, in turn, receive the gift of their joy.
As I have grown older and (sometimes) wiser, I have realized the importance of gifts that are a little less tangible, but no less valuable. In fact, I wonder if it’s the less visible presents that are the most important to give and receive. Sadly, one of the things I have also realized is that I often push away these gifts, and by doing so, I steal the chance for someone else to feel the joy of giving.
That's right. I steal gifts. Just call me the Grinch.
This realization first hit me solidly in the chest a little over a year ago. A precious woman in my life invited me to dinner with her family. My initial internal response was a resounding “YES YES YES I would absolutely LOVE to spend more time with you!” Yet, I found my mouth beginning to form words that would have sounded something like this, if I had let them escape: “Oh, well, you don’t have to do that. I know you are so busy… and while it would be so much fun, I don’t want to take up too much of your time.”
Fortunately, before I could utter those words… I realized the incongruence between those words and my heart. The part of me that was working on learning how to accept compliments (which is still a struggle, by the way) could tell that something about this situation felt similar to when I push away the gift of a compliment. I had felt such joy in the invitation, yet, I shut it down in fear of it being too much trouble for her or because I feared that she felt obligated.
She was presenting me with a gift, and I almost shoved it back in her face, as if it did not mean a thing to me… When, truthfully, that invitation touched me in a way that I sorely needed at the time, and she knew that when she offered it.
Now, maybe I’m the only one out there who struggles with accepting these particular kinds of gifts from others… but I highly doubt it. I fear there may be many, many more of my kind out there… the no-thank-you-I-don’t-want-to-intrude kind… the overly polite, people-pleasing souls who may be scared to be a bother.
And if there are any more of you out there—to you, I want to give you the gift of words that I try to give to myself when I feel the most afraid, and I hope you will accept it with joy in your heart:
Dearest polite one,
When you find yourself in a situation where a beautifully wrapped present is before you, literally or metaphorically, please accept it with all the grace in your heart (if it is a gift you want). In doing so, you are giving a gift to yourself and the giver. You are owning your worth, and that worth spreads to others, dear one. You were created for so much more than hiding in smallness… you were created to live in the big magic and surprise and splendor of who you are, and YOU are a present that deserves to be unwrapped. Embrace it. I wonder if you (and others) will find joy inside?
Miranda, a recovering overly-polite-people-pleaser
p.s. here's a photo of me as a Christmas tree and my best friend Ashley and my best baby sister "opening" the presents that were my shoes. This is another little gift for you. Just 'cause I like you. You're welcome.