photo from goop

A few months ago, I found myself on a road trip with my husband and a (male) friend. We hadn’t traveled 10 miles before falling deep into conversation, as only the open road inspires, and before long I was venting to the guys about the self-inflicted pressure we women endure, which “they could never understand.” At the time, I was planning two bachelorette parties, one baby shower, a three week-long trip, and pushing through a gruesome fitness challenge. The one thing all those commitments had in common? I elected to do every single one of them.

photo from latonya yvette

At my age, I’m getting big news every week. Engagements, weddings, babies — yay! It’s all so wonderful, but why is it that my immediate response to hearing that news is: What can I do? Is anyone hosting your shower yet? Do you need help with invites? When can I bring over dinner? I shared this with the guys in the car that day, and confessed that I don’t exactly find every one of these volunteer opportunities to speak to my love language, and in fact, in many cases they’re incredibly draining. Enter, stress.

Contrastingly, I see the way my husband nurtures his friendships. Believe me when I say, there is none of that. He and his friends are there for each other emotionally when needed, they hang out just as much as I do with my gal pals, but are they bending over backwards to buy each other’s kids birthday presents? And worst of all, guilting themselves when they drop the ball? I think we all know the answer to that.

photo from the coveteur

The problem with all these rituals is how cyclical they are. We all participate, and when it’s our turn to take center stage, we expect it from others. But if we all have different personalities and interests, why is it that we’re all expected to relate to this kind of ceremony? If I acted each time I thought about showering a friend with a gift or an event, it’d be a full time job. And of course, for many women, it is.

I suppose the reason I mention any of this is to simply pose the question: Are we addicted to overcommitting? Does it cause more harm than good? And the biggest question of all, why don’t men do it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

19 comments
  1. 1
    Olga Olgitsa (@Olgaolis) | January 24, 2018 at 9:13 am

    Such an interesting post! I’m not sure I can give a definite answer but I feel the same way. The thing is I have ended up hanging out with people that don’t expect me to do things for them if I don’t want to. So when I offer to help, I try to be fully concious that it was my choice and that nobody forced me to do anything. But it definitelly needs some getting used to…

    Love,
    Olga from Myme

    Reply
  2. 2
    Janet M Fazio | January 24, 2018 at 9:31 am

    Practice saying no, or the universe will step in and do it for you. Right now I’m supposed to be at a BNI meeting. I was invited by a woman I had met only once. I’m not interested in joining this group, it’s at a bad time for me, yet I could not say no. So this morning as I’m about to get in the car, chastising myself for agreeing to do attend this meeting that I had no interest in, the spring to the garage door snaps. Now I can’t leave the house. The universe provided me with the out that I wanted – and an expensive repair (not to mention the time to find someone who can come out today) – to go along with it. Would the spring still have sprung? Probably, but maybe not today.

    Reply
    • Chanel Dror | February 12, 2018 at 9:58 am

      You’re so right, Janet! The world has a way of giving us what we need before we know we need it…

      Reply
  3. 3
    Laura | January 24, 2018 at 8:40 pm

    My husband and I have been talking a lot about this very thing. I’ve recently listened to two podcasts that I enjoyed about it- the first was oprah on dear sugars talking about the importance of saying no. The second was Tim Ferriss and I really liked the way he phrased how he decides whether to commit to something: if it’s not a ‘hell yeah,” it’s a no. Hard to implement but I think very valuable.

    Reply
    • Chanel Dror | February 12, 2018 at 9:58 am

      Laura! Thank you for sharing this. Ever since reading this I’ve been employing Tim Ferriss’s rule of thumb, and I’m finding it super helpful and empowering. Hell yeah!

      Reply
  4. 4
    thestyletune | January 28, 2018 at 2:07 am

    i agree 100% we take so much on ourself!
    http://www.thestyletune.com

    Reply
  5. 5
    Katie | January 29, 2018 at 9:14 am

    Such an interesting read! 2017 was the year of over committing for me. I promised myself that 2018 would be different. But, I’m horrible at saying no! In the moment I’m excited to take on new projects, keep my self busy, give back to my community, family and friends. But, as events and commitments add up I become overwhelmed and stressed. Is there such thing as Committers Regret? Maybe the trick is to give yourself 48 hours before saying yes. Give yourself time to reflect on it. In response to why don’t men feel this way, I think women tend to be more planners. We are consistently living in the future- visualizing events and outcomes, while I think men may be better at living in the moment. I have friends that aren’t even married and I’ve already have a pinterest board for their Bridal Shower. I often joke with my Best Friend that I already written my Maid of Honor speech. It’s kind of a sickness…. is there a 12 step program? Sign me up!

    Reply
    • Chanel Dror | February 12, 2018 at 9:56 am

      Let me know when you find it! I’m IN!!

      Reply
  6. 6
    stephandthecityy | January 29, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    Wow this really puts things in perspective. I agree, as a female, I am always saying “of course I’d love to help” but thinking why did I just say that ?!?! I’m not sure why females do this and males don’t though. I’d love to see what other people have to say on the issue!

    Reply
  7. 7
    jewelsofsayuri | January 31, 2018 at 9:31 am

    I think as women we are hard wired to over commit particularly when it comes to maintaining a relationship. I used to accuse my mother of doing that but now, in my 30’s I know that I over commit way more than her. Our helping tendency becomes our enemy here

    Reply
  8. 8
    passportforliving | February 11, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    Just a thought, and I might be completely wrong but perhaps we women are a little less selfish? I think men put themselves first a hell of a lot more than we women do. Maybe we all need to be a bit more self-ish.

    Reply
    • D.R. | February 21, 2018 at 10:15 pm

      I was just about to say… all these articles about just “saying no”… If women didn’t buy the presents, plan the events, organize all the things, no one else is going to do them. I mean let’s be serious, most husbands aren’t keeping to-do lists and remembering children’s birthdays! Sure, we can all start saying no, but then how is anything going to get done? Please, I’m really asking! lol.

      Reply
  9. 9
    DS | February 21, 2018 at 11:34 am

    It’s funny…my HUSBAND is the one who overcommits not me!!! And he feels terrible saying no to his friends or our neighbors but no trouble saying no to his family. Then he gets all stressed out and anxious but HE is causing it! I don’t know how to get through to him and it’s starting to become annoying.

    Reply
  10. 10
    Inês | February 22, 2018 at 9:20 am

    I am so guilty of this! As I read this post I could see myself to a T. Just last week a friend of mine got engaged and I immediately offered to take care of church flowers and petals. WHY. I do believe it’s something cultural and we should aim to let it be more natural and don’t overwork our schedules over conventions we didn’t even create 🙂 thank you for the fresh voice!

    Reply
  11. 11
    Phyllis Woodell | March 1, 2018 at 8:25 pm

    I read this post because I have a long history of professionally volunteering for schools, Scouts, PTA, high school marching band, and our church. It wasn’t until back surgery, that I learned i had pushed myself emotionally and physically far past my endurance. Adrenaline can only take you so far before you physically collapse.

    I enjoyed helping and participating in my kids’ education. But I did need to come to the realization that part of my reasons for over-committing was that I put most everyone else before myself and was seeking approval from the wrong people. I had to learn that NO is a complete sentence and that before jumping in to help or takeover, I had to stop because I was depriving others of opportunities to serve. I also learned that there are lots of people that don’t participate or ever do their share and it was no longer my responsibility. If our husbands and/or kids would say no, then perhaps I need too as well.

    If I am overcommitting, it sadly could be my ego and that I enjoy the thrill of performing under pressure. We need to work together, to lighten the load for ALL for the good of our communities. Learning to say no or saying that you will consider things before over-extending yourself, should be a gift you give yourself or family. By delaying your verbal response and replying that you need to give it full consideration before giving your response, you can then eliminate activities that aren’t truly making you happy.

    Reply
    • Chanel Dror | March 2, 2018 at 10:26 am

      Thanks so much for sharing this Phyllis. I think many (most!) women can identify with what you’re describing. And it’s true — sometimes all it takes is a momentary pause before responding to truly process the commitment and make a decision that’s good for you.

      Reply
  12. 12
    Natalie | March 19, 2018 at 5:50 am

    Great article though I think it’s both equally men and women who overcommit.

    http://www.upyourvlog.com

    Reply
  13. 13
    miss agnes | June 1, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    I think that men are just much more practical than we are, and will not commit to something unless they know they can do it. And they are less scared to say No, for most of them. And women are more nurturing and caring (sorry if this sounds cliché, but it’s true), so they are more likely to want to do things and decide based on emotions and genuine care, without taking the time to truly reflect on whether they can do it or not.
    I learned this the hard way at work, for years I found it incredibly difficult to say no, and it took me years to learn to say: ok, if I do this as priority, what other project is on the back-burner? Men understand that logic, and don’t feel guilty not being able to do everything. And they might not be as perfectionist as we are. We should try and learn to accept that good enough is good enough, and not everything has to be perfect.

    Reply
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *