I have a confession to make. I have always desperately wanted everyone to like me. My classmates, my neighbors, my 6th grade nemesis, my teachers, the mailman. You name it. If I found out someone didn’t like me much, I’d page through all of the possibilities of what could be wrong with me. Am I too talkative? Too quiet? Too much of a girly girl or not girly enough?
Bottom line: In my 21 years, I have spent way too much time caring about what other people think.
I’m glad I got that off my chest. And I bet if you’re reading this, you can relate.
It’s natural to want to be well liked by the people you meet (and because of social media, maybe even people you’ll never meet). We crave acceptance as human beings. We want validation that we’re exceptional, interesting and talented people. That’s all good and fine, but the thing about wanting to be liked is that you don’t really have much control over how other people feel about you. Basically zero control actually, and that took me a little too long to comprehend.
Here’s the thing: how others react to you has a lot less to do with who you are and a lot more to do with who they are. Everybody has their own problems, and that most definitely impacts the way they respond to you. Yet it’s still hard not to take it personally. This quote sums it up best:
“People will love you. People will hate you. And none of it will have anything to do with you.”
Amen brotha. The more I started to realize the validity of that statement, the less I worried about how other people viewed me. That pulsing desire to be liked was keeping me in my comfort zone. You know, that place where you feel safe, but nothing ever happens? Yeah. Laaame.
So I tried a different approach. It’s impossible to gain everyone’s approval anyway, so why not do what I really wanted to do? And guess what? Good things happened. After years of being too nervous do so, I finally started my own fashion blog. Now when I run into acquaintances, 9 times out of 10 they comment on my blog. People notice when you put yourself out there, and it’s difficult not to respect that. I may not be a “free-front-row-tickets to fashion week” blogger (yet), but ya know what? It makes me happy.
I started to pursue my other passion as well: writing. Here I am, producing content for The Lala, whereas before I was afraid to share my opinion. I wasn’t sure if anyone would want to hear what I had to say. Would I be annoying? Would people want to read what I wrote? But then I realized that didn’t really matter. I thought I could do it, and I wanted to. That mattered. And I’ve gotten some stellar feedback that makes me want to write more and more.
As cheesy as it may sound, it’s empowering when you have the courage to be who you really are, and do what you actually want to do instead of what you think you should do. People may even come to like and appreciate you more when you quit worrying about being well liked. Oh, the irony. But seriously girl, you never know who you might be inspiring.
“And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Yes, I still want people to like me. I don’t think that’s something you can completely make disappear. The key is that you do what you want anyway. As long as you’re not hurting anyone, your opinion of yourself is the only one that counts.
So wear crazy outfits. Dance like a madwoman. Raise your hand in class and share your opinion. You’ll be so much happier if you live for yourself. And if people don’t like what you’re doing, then they’re not worth your time anyway.
If your desire to be liked is holding you back, remember that what you think of yourself is far more important than what others think. Plus, nothing exciting ever happens when you’re afraid to step outside your comfort zone.
You’re far too brilliant for that, you know it?
image via Alexis Tokarski
worrying about what others think