One topic we were talking about was our tendency to want to be liked by everyone. Can you relate? I struggle pretty much every day with trying to 'say the right thing' and trying to be liked by everyone around me. It gets under my skin so much when someone 'doesn't like me' or 'disapproves'. But lately, I have found some peace with this, and so I thought I'd share why and how I've started to worry less if I'm liked or approved.
Always seeking approval and wanting to be pleasant to, and liked by, everyone you meet and are surrounded by is something I think humans were made to feel. We are social beings, and we want to be of service and bring joy to others around us. Not only that, but we want a community where we fit and belong, a family we can build for ourselves where we can be ourselves.
As I've grown over the past few short years. I have been blessed by being surrounded with a lot of women in my life. Not just women my age, women of all ages and stages, and this has profoundly impacted me. From these (mostly older) women that I've met and had the privilege of spending my time with, I have gotten to witness something beautiful that comes with aging- finding yourself. From these women, I have learned that we are not all perfect, that at times we will rub people the wrong way, or not agree, or think each other 'weird' or eccentric- but that these are not things to hide by conforming. Instead, these are things to be celebrated.
OK, yes, I've heard this all before but it's finally sinking in.
There is something really beautiful about someone who can gracefully be themselves, something inspiring and moving. You know that your experience with that person is going to be authentic, even if it is weird or uncomfortable at times. As I have learned to love the imperfections in these women, and then learned to see the woman who is being 'imperfect' as greater than her awkward or quirky comments, I have begun to see how everyone brings something unique and beautiful wherever they go. To not be fully 'you', deprives the moment of what only you have to offer it.
Some people are funny. Some people are smart. Some people are up-front. Some people are hippies, some people are sporty..etc.etc. I have started not only to learn to embrace the quicks in others, but to love them for their quirks. From this I have learned to embrace more the defining sides of myself, the serious side,the spiritual side, the nerdy side, the hippy sider, the oblivious side, the 5-years old side, the grandma side... the list goes on. Before, these were things I would try to suppress, while trying to highlight others, or 'tone down a little".
But now, I have embraced them more instead of judging them as things I need to fix. I haven't stopped comparing myself to others all together, but through seeing how great it is to have such eclectic and different people around me that get along so well and each bring something different to the table, I have begun to see that I too can bring something wholly unique. I have come to accept that I'm not always interested in things that other people are interested in, that I'm not always as clever or outgoing or personable as other people, but that isn't wrong or bad. Other people aren't as quiet or gentile in conversation as me, aren't as nerdy or whatever I am, as me. And as I accept that, I realize that it's OK to be different. And if it's OK to be different, then it's OK to be myself and not try to conform to what I think other people want.
People don't always want to see reflections of themselves in the people they hang out with. People want to see something new, learn new perspectives, share different experiences and stories. People will be drawn to you no matter what. The question is, are they drawn to your authentic self (with all of it's imperfections) or are they drawn to something you're trying to hold up? It's so much more work to hold something up than to just say OK, well here I am and maybe I'm not always x-y-z but at least you know who I am, and I am authentic.
This doesn't mean you cant still strive to be things you aren't today, it just means that you can let go of working to be someone you're not. It has helped me stop worrying about if someone likes me, if what I said was taken the right way, if I reacted the 'right' way to a situation.... it's relieved a lot of the anxiety. And I feel like I've made a lot less mistakes because of it.
Thank you to all of you quirky women out there for showing me how beautiful you are.