My driving experiences have been fraught with frustration –from failing my first driving test to refusing to drive for a decade when I lived in New York City–but lately I have been empowered to drive outside my comfort zone, so to speak. With my determination to become a more confident driver in midlife, I have been tackling a few my parking foibles. Historically, I have been a virtually hopeless parallel parker and reversing is an action I generally avoid at all costs. But in the past few months I have been practicing reversing into my parking spot at home. Without the aid of a back-up camera I might add. At first it was just a dare I gave myself and after multiple irritating attempts I finally got my sedan parked into my allotted space. No matter it ended up being a couple feet from the rear curb, I was exuberant! I had reversed parked into my space by choice.
The next few weeks I would keep reverse parking, sometimes more successfully than others. On a few occasions I would have the most perfectly aligned well-spaced park with no idea what made up for the difference compared to the times when I parked crookedly or away from the curb. So I started to pay more attention to the factors that contributed to a perfect park. Amazingly what I discovered was that when my neighbors were both parked beside me, I parked impeccably. But when I had all the space and room in the world to guide my car, I parked like a crazy person. Huh?
It made me think of the importance of boundaries, in parking and in life. When my neighbors were parked next to me I had to reverse my car within a confined limit. This made me more careful (God forbid I bumped into one of their cars!) but it also gave me a set boundary. The neighboring cars became akin to boundary lines which guided me as I reversed. They helped me reverse so I parked straight and know how far back to go. When I had space to move as I wanted the results were poor simply because I had no boundaries—no guide. I would think I was straight only to find my car parked askew after I had gotten out. I would think I was far back enough but would get out only to discover I had easily 3 feet behind me. Argh! With no car next to me to gauge my relative position I was lost.
When I establish clear boundaries in my life, I know what I will and will not tolerate in any given circumstance. When my boundaries are clear, there are no gray areas. A few of the boundaries I have had most of my life include no phone calls after 9pm or before 9am. These are pretty much non-negotiables unless I give a person an exception by choice. If I get a call outside of those pre-determined windows I don’t pick up and I don’t need to feel guilty about it. Another boundary is asking folks to take their shoes off in my house. Another is not shaking or hugging someone if they clearly have a cold. Yet another is not tolerating being yelled at. These boundaries are set to guide me in life because I want to feel comfortable and safe in my interactions. I want to respect others and be respected. These guidelines and many others help me navigate myself in my interactions with others. Without them I would be askew, kind of like my car.
Setting boundaries in life is hard but it is a necessary form of self -care. When I assume people are doing the best they can it frees me to be me, knowing that I too am doing my best. It also helps me be authentic in asking for what I want, which is really what boundaries are about. It really is about commanding respect from others. Sometimes the boundaries I set upset others but I continue to choose self- love over people pleasing. Brene Brown puts it this way in her bestseller ‘Rising Strong’, “Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to and when they say yes they mean it. They are compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment…We have to value and respect ourselves enough to hold uncomfortable boundaries.”
What are boundaries you have set for yourself?
Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, insight coach, and marketing & branding consultant. She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style. Read more of her inspirational posts on her website. Email her at Elanimage07@gmail.com.