Ben Nadel
On User Experience (UX) Design, JavaScript, ColdFusion, Node.js, Life, and Love.
I am the chief technical officer at InVision App, Inc - a prototyping and collaboration platform for designers, built by designers. I also rock out in JavaScript and ColdFusion 24x7.
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Ben Nadel at Scotch On The Rocks (SOTR) 2011 (Edinburgh) with:

How Do You People Deal With Holidays?

By Ben Nadel on
Tags: Life, Work

I don't know how to do it. It just never seems to go well. I try to balance multiple families; I try to make both happy, but somehow, in the end, I seem to disappoint everyone. You know how they say that if you tell someone something long enough, they begin to believe it? Well, at this point in my life (as the sum of my feelings), I am fairly certain that I just disappoint people all the time. I don't hang out with my friends enough, my family feels that I make poor decisions about being with them, my girlfriend feels that I choose my friends over her (the same friends that already feel that I neglect them), and when I want "my time", pretty much everyone feels that that is selfish. I basically go through my day waiting to make the "wrong choices" knowing that it is only a matter of time and not a question of occurrence.

Frankly, I don't think it is any surprise that I love my work and the gym so much. When it comes to work and the gym, the only one that I can disappoint (for the most part) is myself. There is huge comfort to that - to knowing that disappointment is in some way controllable. I suppose that that is akin to the people who cut themselves because it makes them feel in control. I suppose ColdFusion is my blade and the computer is my "happy place."

The worst part of it is that I deeply love all the people who want me to be part of their lives. But, that only goes to make it worse. It's one thing to disappoint people and it's another thing to always feel like you are disappointing the ones you love.

I went through my last relationship feeling that way all the time. I had though that it was because of the incompatibilities within the relationship itself, but what I am now coming to realize is that the relationship was just the medium for "instantiation" at the time; the relationship wasn't the cause of the feelings, it was merely an expressive outlet.

I don't know what to do about it. I feel lost and my stomach feels horrible. I feel like a bad person. And worst of all, I feel like bad person.

Sorry to be talking like this around the holidays. I guess it is a cry for help... or at least for some sound advice from people who have been around the block more than I have.

Tweet This Great article by @BenNadel - How Do You People Deal With Holidays? Thanks my man — you rock the party that rocks the body!


Reader Comments

Hi Ben
Most people will be in the same situation as you find yourself: it's impossible to all the people happy all the time. It's unreasonable for your friends/family to expect that, and it's a fool's errand to try to achieve it.

The people important to you (and you to them) don't actually think you're disappointing them at all, and I imagine a lot of them find themselves with the same dilemmas you have. It's the nature of being a person. This can get frustrating at times, but I reckon everything generally pans out OK.

Don't worry about it (I know that's hard to do sometimes), and just bear in mind that we're all just muddling along as best we can, and that's just fine: there is no instruction manual.

I don't really know you from... err... Adam (as it were), but you don't one bit seem like a bad person to me because you spend an awful lot of time on this blog trying to do nothing but help people, and that's a good thing.

And whether the Xmas season is your particular gig or not (I suspect not, from your name, although that's a guess), there's nothing wrong with embracing the universal notion of "'tis the season to be jolly!". Being jolly is a good thing, and one should not need a hard and fast reason to do it!

Take it easy, and enjoy your holidays.

--
Adam

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Well, ymmv, but when you are with the right person, things will just work - really. Just about every problem people have in relationships stems from the expectations people bring to them; this is "supposed to happen" and that "should be this way" etc.

As for the people feeling disappointed in you etc, that really is their problem (as harsh as that may sound). You can't control how people feel; you can only do what you know is right and screw the people who put you down for it.

Finally, how do I do holidays? I have no friends and I totally ignore 99% of my family. Easy :-)

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I've come to realize in my life that theres only one person that I can really make happy. me. Its up to everyone else to make themselves happy. All I can do is support them to fulfil their own needs, be there for them when they need me, and give space when they need space.
You can't realistically meet your own needs while trying to fill everyone else's as well. I think that there will always be people that want to see you more often, and I think that that means you're a good person and people want you around.
All you can do is breathe and stay true.

Happy holidays
: )

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Hey all,

I appreciate your feedback. As far as holidays go, I don't really celebrate either major religions (Christmas vs. Hanukkah) but I certainly get into the holiday spirit and participate in Secret Santa and give out Christmas presents and stuff of that nature. I like the holidays, I like the spirit, I like the giving. Holidays, as an idea, are a great time.

And I appreciate the idea of making yourself happy and that you cannot make other people happy all the time... but somehow it never feels that simple. I don't know how to make myself happy AND feel like a good person. When I let others down, I feel like a bad person.

And here's what I fear... that at some point, I am just going to get tired of it. That at one point its going to cross a line where I am just tired of feeling like I disappoint people all the time. And at that point, either people need to NOT be disappointed in me, or I will start to remove those people from my life. And that scares me a lot as I don't want to lose the people that are important to me.

Reply to this Comment

Selfish? And who made "them" such experts? They're the selfish ones, who just want someone with exactly the same problems they have, to complain too. How many times will you bitch about mortgages and ex-wives, before you realize these people are the last ones who should be giving advice?

Trimming the fat off your relationships, and doing what YOU want, sounds exactly like what needs to be done. If anything these people said, was actually good advice, you wouldn't be in this situation to begin with.

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Happy to report that it's 8:36 PM on Christmas and everything ended up going fine. I am completely exhausted and traveled / peopled out, but tonight should be restful and then it's back to work tomorrow :)

Happy holidays to each and every one :)

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