I really do try to be a nice person.
If someone needs help and I’m able to help them, I will. Still, the one thing that people ask me to do that drives me absolutely bonkers is when they try to take advantage of my skills or hobbies.
Let me frame the picture for you: my favorite things to do are write, draw and paint. I used to play the piano as well, although I haven’t touched my electric keyboard in quite a while. I consider myself to be a creative person, so those things come naturally to me and I enjoy them. However, when you spend your life creating things for fun, more people than you’d expect try to use you to get something they want.
I’ve had at least 10 people ask me to do a piece of artwork for them in the last four years. Most of these were projects that I didn’t want to do in the first place, but agreed to do because again, I try to be a nice person. So I spent a ridiculous portion of my time and an even more ridiculous amount of my art supplies to create artwork for those people.
Let me just say that good quality art supplies are super expensive. If you thought for one second that my beloved pack of Prismacolor pencils cost the same amount of money as a box of Crayola pencils, I’d laugh in your face. If that wasn’t sad enough, I happened to not only be a people-pleaser back then but also a doormat, because I didn’t get paid for most of that work. Lesson learned.
Furthermore, I’ve had people ask me to “write something” for them at random points in time, just so they could see my writing style. What do they expect me to do, just whip out a sonnet there on the spot? Apparently, that’s not an unreasonable thing to ask, in someone’s strange mind. I also had friends in grade school who would pester me whenever I was writing a new story to let them read it, and then pester me further until I made them into a character they wanted to be in said story. Good grief.
I even had trouble back in high school when I still played the piano. I fiddled around with songwriting during my sophomore year and one of my friends basically commandeered a song I was writing, claiming that it was about her and her boyfriend and proceeded to oversee my lyric writing and asked if I could record it and burn it onto a CD for her.
Luckily, I haven’t been prodded as much lately to do projects for people, and I hope it stays that way. I am flattered that people I know think that the creative work I do is stellar, but I’m drawing the line, not your face. Now, if someone asks me to write a haiku about their tragic love life or paint a portrait of them in impressionist style, I’ll smile and say, “Sorry, I’m not interested.”