A few years ago, during COVID19, I read a book on being a people pleaser. I realized I have spent most of my life trying to keep people happy, hoping they won’t hurt me, which was impossible. I still got hurt. What did happen was that my God-given creativity was stolen or robbed. I was afraid to step out of the box and be extravagantly creative. My mind kept saying, “What if I am ridiculed, or people don’t like my creativity, because it doesn’t line up with the ‘norm”. I was not a happy person.
After reading that book I stopped being a ‘people pleaser’
Let me tell you a story about how Matthew The Elf lived in a people pleasing town.
Matthew The Extravagant Elf
Matthew sat on his red and yellow striped chair and admired the painting he’d finished. The purple monkey frying eggs and spinach in the bright green kitchen was the best painting he’d done.
Matthew’s eyes, bright with joy, admired his other painting that hung on the walls of his tiny mushroom home, where he lived for the past 15 years, in Plainsville. A green hair sat on a purple stool and knitted an extremely long multi-coloured scarf, next to that a pink bear played with orange bongos and beside the bear was a red cat with black stripes cleaning windows, with a turquoise cloth. The back-splash behind the sink graced the band of red and black ants, each instrument a riot of colours.
Every wall was covered with Matthew’s paintings of colourful animals, playing in their own creative field, baking, cleaning the house, painting pictures, turning pottery on a wheel, or painting art in elaborate colours.
Matthew painted colour on everything. A yellow wall with large red dots was adjacent to the purple and green striped wall. Across the room was the bright orange wall with dark green splashes of paint.
He tucked his red and yellow striped chair under his black table with pink and turquoise dots, then went outside to see how his cucumbers and tomatoes with fairing.
“Haven’t you picked those tomatoes yet? They are too red. And look at those cucumbers, they shouldn’t be that dark green. They should look like mine.” Nosy Neighbour 1 held up a tomato, that barley had begun to turn red and a very small pale green cucumber.
Matthew timidly replied, “They taste better when they are ripe, big, and juicy.”
“You fool. If the Task Master finds out your tomatoes are redder than his and your cucumbers larger than his he’ll chew your head off. You could lose your job at the factory.”
Matthew hunched his shoulder and went back inside his mushroom house. The clock, shaped like a pair of black and white striped paints chimed 8 times.
Matthew took off his purple leather shoe, then his orange and yellow knee sock, and set them under the shocking pink bench with red zigzags. He took off his other shoe, a black platinum one. Matthew watched his reflection wiggle and distorted in his shiny shoe. He took off his knee-high white lace sock and placed the shoe and sock beside the other one. He took off his rainbow colour cotton shorts, folded them, and set them on a lime green chair with yellow daisies painted on it.
He undid the large gold buttons shaped like flowers on his yellow and green striped satin shirt then took it off and folded it and laid it on top of his shorts. Finally, with regret, he took off his favourite hat, a tall pointed one with the widest brim he’d ever seen. He hung his dark green hat with tiny pink dots on the wooden hook he’d carved into a bear’s head. The wall was lined with hats of all shapes sizes and colours. Each hung on its own hook that Matthew had carved and painted into an animal’s head.
The joy left Matthew’s face, replaced with deep sorrow. He put on brown itchy wool shorts and a matching brown wool shirt. He must wear them, he must blend in, Matthew chanted as he changed from colourful to drab brown. He put on his wool brown socks and plain brown shoes.
Finally, he tucked his mop of curly orange hair under his brown bowler hat. He must blend in, he must be like everyone else, Matthew chanted. But Matthew wasn’t like everyone else. The other elves were frightened of the Task Master. They shaved off their colourful locks, they picked their vegetables before they ripened so their vegetables wouldn’t be better than Mr. Task Masters. The inside of their mushroom homes was as drab and boring as the brown clothes they wore.
Matthew had to live with colour and art, even if he had to hide it from Mr. Task Master, the ruler of Plainsville, his boss.
Matthew stepped out of his colourful mushroom house. The brown ground was dotted with mushroom houses, all the same, brown stems with faded orange roofs stretched before him. No flowerbeds, no green grass for Mr. Task Master ridiculed, tore down, and made fun of anyone who dared to be different then him.
Matthew hung his head, slouched his shoulders, and dragged his feet to the steel factory. More elves, dressed in brown hung their heads and dragged themselves to work. They stood at their stations, blend in, blend in, kept ringing in their heads.
Short fat Mr. Task Master stood on a platform and look down on his workers, ensuring they put the pins in the predrilled steel rods. All day long, every day the elves put steel pins into the holes in the steel rods. The rods were taken away and more rods came in. The bell rang for the lunch break. The elves sat on brown benches and quietly ate their peanut butter sandwiches and drank their coffee. Then back to work. At the end of the day, Mr. Task Master gave them a few coins. This allowed them to buy bread, butter, milk, and a bit of meat, no sugar, no sweets for that would be extravagant.
Matthew often went without meat and saved his money for paints, paper, and brushes. He needed his art; his creativity more than he needed a belly full of meat.
Day after day the elves laboured at the factory putting steel pins in steel rods, wearing their drab bown clothes.
One day Mr. Task Master came down from his platform and walked the factory floor. He stopped and inspected Matthews’s work. Matthew wondered why Mr. Task Master checked the work since they did the same work, day after day, after day after day.
Matthew looked up at the fat roly-poly Task Master. He dared to ask why and question Mr. Task Masters’s authority, something never allowed. He swallowed his fear and asked. “What are these steel rods with steel pins used for?”
Mr. Task Master’s face turned red with anger and wrath. He japed his pointy little finger at Matthew, “How dare you ask such a foolish question. All you are to do is to put pins into these rods,” he pointed at the rods which were piling up. “You are nothing, you are worthless. You are only capable of putting pins into these rods. You’re not smart enough to do anything else. Back to work,” shouted Mr.Task Master.
Matthew wasn’t quivering or shaking like he used to do. Instead, in anger, Matthew grew taller. His shoulders no longer slouched, he held his head straight and tall. He looked down on the Mr.Task Master and realized he had no power over him. Matthew knew he wasn’t useless; he knew he could do more than put pins in steel rods. He would no longer blend into this miserable life. Matthew asked again, “What are these steel rods for?”
It was only slight, but Mr. Task Master glanced over at the doors at the end of the factory. Matthew caught this glance. These doors were always closed. Matthew assumed they were an emergency exit.
Matthew marched to the doors; his footsteps echoed across the factory. The elves had never heard such a sound, for they knew that to blend in, and not be noticed, so they walked softly, barely touching the ground, never making a sound.
Matthew flung open the doors. What Matthew saw flipped his lid. His brown bowler hat flew off, his curly orange hair bounced out of the hat, and stood straight up. The elves and Mr. Task Master were shocked to see this spark of bright orange among the sea of brown.
Matthew saw more elves dressed in drab brown clothes. Eyes down, hunched over steel rods with pins in them. They were taking pins out of the steel rods. They tossed the pins into brown bins and stacked the steel rods onto brown carts.
More small fat Task Masters were taking the buckets of bins and carts of rods back to the factory where Matthew worked.
Matthew and every elf from both factories realized their work was for nothing, a revolving circle, going around and around these steel rods and pins went. How many years had the elves been putting the same steel pins into the same steel rods?
It was a light of truth that had entered the elves’ minds. They’d followed the rules, and done what was expected, to please the Task Masters, who could not be pleased.
The elves revolted and marched out of the factory. The first thing they did was burn their dull brown clothes. They took off their dull brown hats and let their vibrant coloured hair grow. They painted the outside of their mushroom home bright colours. They grew grass and flowers around their mushroom homes. And tore down the fences that kept them apart, angry, and sad.
For the first time, Matthew invited the elves into his mushroom home. The elves were astonished to see the bright colours Matthew had inside. They asked Matthew to help them paint the inside of their homes.
When Matthews’s neighbor saw Mathew’s art, she wasn’t afraid to show her gift of baking. She brought out delicious colourful cupcakes she had baked and traded them for one of Matthew’s animal paintings.
The other elfs also shared the gifts they had done in secrete. Some sewed extravagant clothes, others made decorative furniture, there were knitters, carpenters, welders, potters, and a few took out trowels and covered the dirt walkways with paving bricks.
The elves stood taller, no longer hunched over in fear. They sang joyful songs and wore colourful shoes, some even dared to jump in muddy puddles with their colourful shoes.
They no longer criticized and judge their neighbours. They praised Matthew’s ripe tomatoes and cucumbers.
The elves gifted in blacksmith forged the steel rods and steel pins from the factory into a beautiful sculpture, which they erected in the town centre. This sculpture was a reminder to never allow people to tell you what you can do. That stole their gifts their joy, and their freedom to be who they were created to be. They did burn down the factory, they didn’t want that as a reminder of their sad, joyless, bondage life.
What happened to the Task Masters? No one knows for sure. The elves hoped their eyes were also opened and they stopped demanding elves follow them. Chances are they moved onto another town, where they could control other elves. Elves like the Task Masters rarely see the damage they did to others. They only think of being powerful in their own mind, beause they are insecure. THE END
Are you a people pleaser? Have you tried to please people only to have your creativity put in a box? Are you content or stressed about your life?
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