You know what I’ve really been reminded of in the past month? How important it is to have boundaries for yourself.
Boundaries can extend to almost anything. Your job, school, friendships, relationships, or even yourself. And I don’t mean this to say that you shouldn’t let anyone or anything in. I mean this to say that you need to take care of yourself sometimes.
So what does this look like? Well, different things based on the situation. Let me give some examples.
Work boundaries can take lots of forms. Some things could be not answering emails on the weekends. It could also be not letting yourself take on more projects. For me as a teacher, I refuse to take work home. I will stay late or go in early, but when I leave for the day, I leave it all at work. I grade during my prep when I can or while my students are working on their own. I know I can be obsessive, so by not bringing it home, I don’t have to think about it after I leave the building.
But at the same time, I still get emails to my phone. This way I can be available for my students if they need me. I also can connect with parents, teachers, or access important information. But emails aren’t as common for me as they are for other jobs, so I can deal with them.
School boundaries. Whoo boy. I’ve had just about every success and failure with these. But we’ll talk more about the successes than the failures here today.
One of the biggest boundaries I can give about school is not to take on too much. It is okay to say no. Let me repeat that so you really understand. IT. IS. OKAY. TO. SAY. NO. Do not ever feel that you have to say yes. Don’t overcommit. The only thing that will come of it is burnout. You have to take time for yourself. I don’t know what that looks like for you. For me in college, it was movies. I watched a lot of movies in college because that was helpful. School isn’t everything.
Friendships and Relationships
This is the one that has probably been more prominent lately. Whether you’re just friends or in a romantic relationship, having set boundaries is important. Figure out what you’re comfortable with and what you’re not comfortable with. That’s only part of it though. You also have to voice those concerns. Otherwise, the other person isn’t going to know. Nobody is a mind reader. Communication is going to make or break a relationship.
So what happens when the boundaries get crossed? Well, this one really depends on you. Work can be like “Well, I need to get this done, so can I ask to reschedule this meeting?” Maybe it’s deleting the email app until you get back on track.
For school, it could be canceling plans to get homework done that’s stressing you out. It could be spending the weekend doing homework or studying for exams.
Finally, people relationships are the hardest when you cross the boundaries. You have to make that line clear from the beginning. Otherwise, they won’t realize they crossed a boundary. However, once they know the boundary and they cross it, then that falls on them. It may take a reminder from you that you have that boundary in place. But it is on them to apologize and correct their behavior. That’s a key of being a good friend or partner in any way. You navigate those boundaries, apologize when you mess up, and work to fix it.
If they refuse to fix it, then things are only going to get worse. It is also clear that they don’t care about you or respect you enough to make an effort. This is emotional manipulation, plain and simple. If this continues, that person does not deserve a place in your life.
Now you may be thinking, “Wow, Kim, that’s really harsh.” And yeah, it is. If they aren’t respecting your boundaries, they aren’t worth your time. It’s going to get to a point where the only thing you can do is kick them out of your life. I have spent too much of my life being nice “to save face” or something. The only one it ends up hurting is me. Things won’t change or get better. You have to make an effort, and if that doesn’t happen, it’s only going to get more painful.
Other helpful tips
One of the biggest things that can help with crossed boundaries is taking time for yourself. Take a day, the weekend, whatever you need. Breaks are important. Prioritize what needs to be fixed first. The rest of the stuff will come later. If you can’t complete your work because you’re worried about a friendship, then you gotta fix the friendship first. You’ll find that once you fix the main issue, the smaller issues aren’t so pressing.
I know this post is different from anything I’ve done recently. But I always commit to keeping my blog honest. So that means, when I go through something, like crossed boundaries, then that’s what I talk about. I’m working, pulling myself together, and getting better at this. But it’s relevant to me, and I hope it’s relevant to you as well!