“One of the most freeing things we learn in life is that we don’t have to like everyone, everyone doesn’t have to like us, and it’s perfectly okay.” –Unknown
I grew up a people pleaser. It was drilled into me from childhood that it was very important to be aware of what other people thought of me and my actions at all times. Growing up in the south, keeping up with appearances is something that becomes a part of your identity.
While I enjoy the part of Southern upbringing that taught me to always be polite, the part that teaches you to put others’ opinion before your own is something that I came to resent.
Before I made any decision, I was to carefully weigh out how it would affect others and their thoughts of me.
As a kid, it worked out pretty well. (The whole reason I stayed out of trouble mostly, eh?) As an adult…not so much. The constant need to have everyone like me came back to kick me in the butt, again and again.
It started out through middle and high school when I was figuring out my interests and passions. In my heart, I felt one way. In person, I obviously leaned toward whatever I thought was “cool.”
I remember still having the childish awe and passions at that time, but I tried to grow up far too quickly to fit in.
Before long it got to the point where every decision in my life involved me heavily weighing what other people would think. Obviously as a blogger, this was amplified. You can’t build an online presence without being well liked and doing what’s “popular” on the Internet, right?
I built myself completely around others’ expectations, from the way I looked, to my friends, to my relationships, passions, personality, and more.
When people would ask me about myself, I had carefully figured out answers, but they weren’t the same for everyone.
I became an expert at analyzing people and situations so that I could figure out the person I needed to be for those certain people in order for them to like me. I had no one true self, but instead, many different versions of me made to please everyone and anyone.
In relationships, it hurt me the most, possibly. I never revealed my true self to anyone—friends or significant others—as I didn’t want to drive them away. If we got into arguments, I would either apologize and take their side or simply pull myself away from them further as I convinced myself that we were not meant to be.
The journey to my own self-discovery and wanting to please myself most of all came in something unexpected in the last few months—when a friend pulled away from me after I had upset her.
You see, in the past I had pulled away from everyone else first if they got too close to me, never the other way around.
It struck me in the healing time that I was not upset because of how close we had become or because I valued them so deeply as a person.
It turned out, what upset me the most was knowing that there was someone out there who did not like me and was harboring bad feelings toward me. The thought of that tore me apart.
It wasn’t until I was talking to another friend, and she pointed out that there was most likely a great deal of people that didn’t like me, that I had a revelation.
There will always be people who don’t like me, possibly people who outright dislike me. By trying to cater my life and decisions to everyone else besides the only person whose feelings mattered (me), I drove myself into an unhappy place in an impossible attempt to make everyone happy. I’d never be able to make everyone happy, and it turns out that that’s fine.
I spent so much time trying to get everyone to like me that I never figured out that's not actually what’s best for me. Surprisingly, I figured out that in my life, as well as my business, it’s a good thing to drive people away! That may sound weird, but let me explain:
It started with this amazing quote from the book Light is the New Black by Rebecca Campbell, which goes like this:
“You are not for everyone, and that's okay. The world is full of people who, no matter what you do, will point blank not like you. But it is also filled with people who will love you fiercely. You are not for everyone, and that's okay.
“Talk to the people who can hear you. Don’t waste your precious time and gifts trying to convince them of your value, they won’t ever want what you’re selling. Don’t convince them to walk alongside you. You’ll be wasting both your time and theirs and will inflict unnecessary wounds, which will take precious time to heal.
“You are not for them and they are not for you; politely wave them on, and continue along your way. Sharing your path with someone is a sacred gift; don’t cheapen your gift by facing yours in the wrong direction. Keep facing your true north.”
As you “drive people away,” you only get closer to your ideal people. Those who love you, who want to be close to you, who truly value you, are one step closer.
Each person who criticizes your ideas and business draws you closer to your ideal clients. Each friend that walks away draws you closer to the people who share your beliefs and passions.
Being disliked by some is simply a byproduct of being authentic to who you truly are.
The more you embody your true persona, the more incompatible people will pull away from you.
That’s okay, because at the same time, the more you adopt your true self, the more likeminded people you'll draw toward you.
You are not for everyone, and that's not just okay, that’s amazing.
Photo credit: gratisography.com