Just an Obliger in a sea full of Upholders looking for some accountability.

It’s been a while. I’m always at a quandary… do I just jump right back in like it hasn’t been several years since I posted anything? Or can I just chalk it all up to Pandemic life, Career changes, falling in love, getting engaged, getting a second dog, planning a wedding and overall just adjusting to the current state of he world?

Everything has changed for just about everyone I know, which of course is good and bad and everything in between. I’m acutely aware that being stuck in a bit of ennui is not unique to me (Languishing is the buzzword of the moment) and I also realize that writing about this sense of feeling stuck is quite privileged. I haven’t been directly impacted by Covid deaths, gun violence, job insecurity or any other countless shit show things that seem to be happening these days. I’m beyond lucky, and I’m still having a hard time, and that is mental health for you.

I spent a large chunk of 2019 and 2020 meditating, focusing on really getting to the root of what makes me tick, reading and diving into self discovery, which I’m pretty sure is also just called your mid-thirties.

And here is what I have figured out.

  • I’m an Obliger.
  • I identify as an enneagram 4
  • My love languages are Quality Time and Acts of Service
  • I’m an extroverted introvert.

And I really wish there was a handbook/ manual that quickly outlined all of these things that I could just hand to people and say “this is how my brain works.” I have yet to find one.

The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin totally made me feel understood for the first time. Hi my name is Tayler and I’m an Obliger.   (also this is #NotAnAd  )   I won’t go into too much detail because there is a literal book on it, but basically I function with accountability, especially in the work place, and take on more and more and more because people know they can rely on me to get things done. (which could/ will eventually However, I cannot seem to do that for myself, I need the external accountability. So when it comes to working out, fitness goals, getting organized, or a myriad of other things I “want” to do, it is really really hard for me to self motivated to accomplish those things because I need the external accountability and it needs to be that I’m letting someone else down, because its quite easy to let myself down. (and that feels pretty shitty… like I’m more okay with letting myself down than I am letting other people down? But yes. And then it perpetuates the feeling down about how you just can’t seem to get things done, and the other people in your life don’t understand why, and everyone just tells you to just do all the things, and even when you try to explain or advocate for yourself about what might be helpful, your therapist just tells you that you probably have ADHD. )

And overall this is the conundrum I am in right now, because I feel like everyone is finally getting to the point where they are becoming clear on their own boundaries. (I mean yay everyone, and hallelujah!) but also as hard as it is to say no, to be firm in our boundaries, it is also really really really hard for some people to ask for help. So while I am celebrating everyone who is finally stepping up and stepping into their own boundaries, its also really challenging to muster up the courage to say “can you help me with this?” and then to be met with a boundary of no. And on the flip side, as an Obliger, I tend to be the person who gets asked for help a lot, because I am the person who says yes a lot, so whether it is a volunteer project, something at work, something with friends or family, people feel quite comfortable asking me for help, and quite uncomfortable when I say no. But on the flip side, when I ask for help, I’m often met with blank stares, lack of response or zero follow through, which quite frankly sucks.

I’m not meaning to be on a pity party tangent over here. I do love that people have boundaries and know their own limits. I appreciate that people are busy, and have families and jobs and pets, and projects and all the things. But it is also really hard when often times it feels like everyone else in my life is an Upholder (can do things for other people and also follow through with their own motivation, no problem, all the time, no matter what.) Because when you ask Upholders for help, they legit don’t understand why you need help and why you can’t just do it. Just clean the god damn kitchen, just take out the trash, just look up a training schedule and go running every day. Their brains can’t comprehend needing the accountability, and so they are pretty terrible at giving it to other people.

And then there is the Rebel, which is why my fiancé is… and essentially he needs the opposite of accountability… so when I ask if he can help remind me to drink water, or take my vitamins, or do one of the countless other things that would make me feel like less of a garbage human and more successful, he also is not the best person to ask for help. He is a gem of a human, but if I were to remind him to drink more water he would not drink it just because someone asked him to. (he really isn’t that bad, but that is the instinct, to do the opposite of what is asked in certain situations.)

I asked my therapist for homework, and she told me I needed to keep a journal or a fitness planner. I tried explaining to her that I needed more accountability, and that is when she said she didn’t understand why I couldn’t just reach my goals and maybe I needed to be tested for ADHD or get a life coach. And I mean, sure, maybe I do, but also, it felt really frustrating to have the person you are already paying to check in with and talk to, just dismiss and say “see you next time.” Ok, but maybe if next time you asked me how I was doing with my goals instead of “what do you want to talk about today…”   (and yes, this is clearly a conversation I need to and will have with said therapist) But again, its really hard to ask for help, and then have the people you ask not follow through. Because then it’s just one more thing… I’m already disappointed in myself that I can’t seem to do the things… and then when I ask the people in my life for accountability, and they don’t follow through I’m just disappointed in them too. I’m letting myself down, they are letting me down… It’s a lot of pressure.

I know this is all coming up right now because I’m trying to get in shape for the wedding. Which feels cliché and shallow, but also is exactly where I’m at. I want my arms to look good in wedding photos! I don’t want people to ask me if I’m pregnant or just gained weight (I mean, lets be clear, no one should ask that anyway, and yet THEY DO. People are the worst. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.) I want to be motivated to exercise, and to keep the house clean! And I want the people in my life to understand that I’m trying, and honestly that I just need them to show up. I need people to ask me to go for walks instead of meeting for a drink (though lets go for drinks afterwards, cause that is fun too!) I need people to text me in the middle of the day and remind me to drink water, I need people to send me healthy and easy recipes, I need people to give me their workout shoes so I feel terrible if I miss a workout and make the other person miss their workout. (ok I know, totally extreme, but also exactly where I’m at.) I need people to invite me to yoga classes, I need to share my workouts with someone and have them ask me about them, I NEED THE BUDDY SYSTEM.   (I’m not yelling, per se, just like you know, emphasis.)

So how do you ask for help, respect boundaries and the realities of the world without feeling disappointed? And where are all my other Obligers at who would like an accountability group? Asking for a friend.

In the meantime, I’m trying… I’ve never stopped trying… I’ve got fitness apps, and water trackers, I set up a home gym in the garage, I will probably buy salad mix every week until the day I die, even if I don’t use it. I’m looking into Life coaches, and accountability apps, and maybe that is the answer. I’ll let you know. But I’m also asking for help. If you have a second could you check in with me about my goals? Could you send me a random message about drinking more water? Can we go for a walk, or go to yoga, or try and online workout together?