The NO’s and the YES’s: Creative and Personal Boundaries

Me: “Hello, my name is Adrianne and I’m a people-pleaser”

Group: “Hi, Adrianne.”

Yes, yes. That’s me. Once upon a time, I was such a people pleaser that it led me into an abusive relationship that stole 3 years from me. My people-pleasing tendencies didn’t exactly go away after I liberated myself. I still want people to like me, but I honor my boundaries.

            So, maybe you don’t necessarily need people to “like” you. Maybe you need someone to approve. Maybe you’re trying to turn down the furnace of someone else’s attitude so you kinda… well… go along with the flow and give up creative and personal freedom.

            Years ago, someone asked me to sing the hook to a rap song he was doing. I was grateful that he’d at least written it instead of telling me to “write whatever you want” with no creative direction in mind. The hook was completely against who I am and what I stand for. All I can remember is singing about gyrating. If there was going to be a music video, I wasn’t even sure I’d want my face to be seen. Perhaps, they’ll just neglect asking me to be in the video altogether?

            If I wasn’t comfortable with it, I should have said no. The reason I couldn’t say no was because I’d never identified any creative or personal boundaries. I’d actually never had boundaries with respect to who I am as an individual or a creative. EVER. No wonder I was getting trapped in these compromising situations. I didn’t know when I was reaching the limit and when it was time to say, “I can’t do that.”

            Saying no is powerful in the right context. Saying yes is powerful in the right context. There is balance and self-respect in knowing when to do both. I’ve identified several instances when it’s time to say no and when it’s time to say yes. It’s non-extensive and meant to help you begin defining where your own creative boundaries and freedoms are.

Identifying your creative and personal boundaries:

1)      If you sense your self-respect may be compromised by your participation.

2)      If you can’t “put your name on it” and be proud.

3)      If it compromises what your creative brand represents.

Identifying your creative and personal freedoms:

1)      When you feel personally compelled or positively convicted to participate.

2)      When you don’t have to be convinced that it’s a good idea.

3)      When you realize you’re just scared to do it, but doing it would actually benefit you.

If you’ve never identified your boundaries—the NO’s—and your freedoms—the YES’s—then start by making a list of your character traits, causes you support, and things you like to do regardless of who approves or disapproves. As you begin to make your list, you’ll begin to see your NO’s and your YES’s become more evident. And then… you’ll discover your creative and personal boundaries.

- Adrianne Marcia