In our society pushing your limits is seen as something positive, aspirational even. We are supposed to continously overcome anything that is holding us back, to push ourselves harder, to go further. Accepting our personal and emotional limitations is something we are not really trained or endorsed to do. Obviously it can be beneficial or even lifechanging to overcome certain boundaries or beliefs we have about ourselves. Especially overcoming societal rules can be liberating and incredibly freeing. However I personally think establishing healthy boundaries is ABSOLUTELY essential to feel happy and content.

For me personally setting boundaries and especially sticking to them was incredibly hard. Whether in relationships or regarding my energy levels I never really managed to find healthy boundaries, which lead to me being absolutely exhausted and very unhappy in many regards. It can be very daunting and  counter intuitive to limit your time spent with others, your energy spend on helping and healing other people or to cut ties with people completely. But I do think it is absolutely crucial when you notice that you constantly feel tired, worn out or unhappy.

1. Examine how much time you need for yourself - or how much time you need to spend with others

I personally am an introvert. I am loud, I am super social, I hang out with people all the time but I do not really unwind or relax in large groups of people. I enjoy hanging out with people immensely, but I need alone time to feel good, relaxed and grounded. Especially when you are around people, who do not thrive on alone-time, who thrive on being with others it can be quite hard to articulate that you need to have this time for yourself. This goes especially if you are on the younger side. It has become quite trendy to be in constant hibernation and stay in, but I am also in my mid twenties now and I remember how many people in high school thought I did not like them if I wanted to stay in. I have become better and better at articulating that I love you and enjoy spending time with you, but I just need this time for myself. I have also gotten better at choosing people, who can accept this. On the other hand I used to be somebody, who cancelled plans last minute and lied about why I cancelled to get out of discussion, which lead to people misunderstanding me and I have made a conscious effort to not cancel plans unless I absolutely need to. I also got better at understanding how much time I can spend hanging out with others and took a lot of pressure off myself, which actually lead to me enjoying hang out and time with others so much more.

2. Understand how much you can generally handle in a day

Germans live for their work. It is genuinely scary the intense chunk of your life works takes up, how much your value is based on work and how much unpaid overtime Germans are happy to put in. I used to heavily base my worth on how much I was working, how many hours I spent at work and was available to my bosses all the time. I am a person, with an incredibly desire to be liked. I want to be liked even by people I personally dislike. So it is very easy for me to continuously fulfill what other people want me to do without listening to my own needs. This goes especially for work-related requests. In journalism you need to deliver. There are hundreds of people, who would be happy to do your job, being paid for internships is highly unlikely and you are expected to go above and beyond while not making any money. I know that many industries work this way and that sadly you kind of have to deliver especially when you are still trying to prove yourself in the job field. However during my internship (and other internships before this one) I was often the first and the last person in the office. I stayed overtime, I worked weekends and I took on any job that was offered to me, while still working on the side to make it possible for me to work full-time with zero income. It was worth it now that I have my job, but it sucked. It would be very easy for me to continue this behaviour and I am sure I will put in a good chunk of overtime once my traineeship starts in August, but I am no longer working unpaid extra hours. My current workplace is also very accepting and encouraging about that, but I also have found for myself that I am happy with a smaller salary or less of a career if it means I get free time in return. I want to be good at my job, but I also do not want to spend my entire life in an office. I want to see friends, I want to go to the gym, I want to have dinners during the week. If you are happy to make that dollar while giving up quality of life and me time go for it, but if you just do it because others expect it of you or because you hope your boss will like you more than you need to reconsider. Sadly your job will probably find someone else to do your job within a day or two if you were to drop dead. So act in accordance.

3. Understand that you are not responsible for others peoples happiness

Maybe this again goes back to our inherent desire to be liked. Taking care of others is noble, it is a wonderful way to show affection and it is what all our friendships and relationships are built upon: We take care of each other. But and this is so important: you need to take care of yourself. Helping or caring for others should not be an automatic thing you do. It is something you choose to do, something you enjoy doing, not something you do because you feel like you have to, like people only love you if you break your back to take care of them. Love never needs to be earned. It should be given freely. You should not be expected to be the only one that gives time, effort and love in a relationship. You are obviously free to help others. But it is also fine to say you do not have the energy for this at the moment. To say you will not manage, that you have enough on your plate. Helping others can be selfless at times IF you have the energy, the resources or the time. You can always do what you can, but you do not have to. It is okay to say "I can only call you today". It is okay to say "I am really sorry I am extremely busy, I can currently be there for you to talk, but I cannot help you with anything else". It is such an old saying, but you need to put your oxygen mask on first before you help others. And you need to have friends, who are not only friends with you to take your energy without giving something in return. Actual, true friends will accept you and love you and encourage you to take care of you.

In short: you should get to know yourself, be aware of what is good or bad for you and how much and what you can and cannot handle. This is usually trial and error and takes quite some time, but is really really important. Additionally to this: be honest. Let people know the actual reason you don´t come to certain events or need more time or cannot handle this much work. Don´t make excuses or lie and people should really understand you and if they do not, you may want to reconsider if they are the right people to be around for you long-term. This is not to say that people need to understand every step you take and you may make mistakes, but your friends should be genuinely interested in you being happy and accept that you may have to draw certain boundaries for that.

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Thanks so much for your lovely comments, constructive criticism and suggestions. I will try to answer all of you!