I'm winding up my time in Canada and I'm finding that I have a lot to write about. Today I plan to keep it relatively short (right...me?!) and write about one of the most awesome realizations I've had that is something I had actually been very fearful of and have now completely embraced! It's not a new concept but it is one I struggled with for a long time:
Not everyone likes me.
This used to be so upsetting to me and likely one of the reasons why I didn't develop much of a self. I was so scared of being disliked that I became what people wanted in/from me often. Not completely, and not with everyone.
*A great time to just throw out there that I still make a lot of what might be classified as “black and white thinking” or “all or nothing” statements and, really, that's just me! I know that anything is only ever often and what is never is usually only ever rarely but the way I express myself is...sometimes more dramatic. Please don't be too alarmed and understand that it is just expression, rarely absolute.*
I never really understood when I was told, growing up, that not everyone was going to like me and that was okay. I wondered how that could possibly be okay? And what could I do to be different so that people would like me – all people?! It made me feel flawed when someone didn't like me...how could they not? Surely it was something wrong with me or something I had done.
Nope, not true! There is actually nothing wrong with me and rarely have I done something so terrible that would deem me unlikeable forever!
Taking this one step further: I am actually glad that not everyone likes me! I no longer have to modify much about me to fit with someone else. Of course, there are common courtesies (not so common depending on where one is!) and respect that make a coexistence possible and more pleasant at times but it never has to go so far as to compromising one's true self.
That's the biggest bonus: being allowed to really be me with the company I keep and having them love me and like me.
I used to invest so much time and energy into ensuring that I was a well-liked person (to the point of studying etiquette books to know exactly how I should behave to make the best impression) that this freedom I have now to really be me, it actually energizing.
It really used to scare me, this concept, but the actual experience of just feels so natural. Before, most people did seem to like me: the bland, very nice, accommodating, happy, mellow, me that I allowed out from time to time when physical and emotional strength allowed. Prior to being physically and mentally ill with my ED again though, many – if not most – people still liked me. Again, at that time, I was “nice”, helpful, fun, happy, but pliable. I made myself what I needed to be in most situations.
Now I realize, that if a situation or group or person doesn't fit for me, I'm not necessarily the biggest issue and I have the choice to remove myself and the strength to follow my intuition.
Many people still like me and I appreciate that. It still feels good to be enjoyed by others but I don't live with the fear that “omg...I'm going into a new place what if nobody likes me?” - someone is going to like me and someone else is going to, well, not. I also don't take it personally when people who I knew before (which seems like from a different life at this point) look at me like I'm an alien and aren't in touch again. If anything, I'm curious as to why sometimes but it's not a need-to-know thing.
As one can probably gather from my writing over the months, I have developed quite a personality. I have opinions on a lot of things. I don't claim for these opinions to be true or right for everyone but I'm not often adverse to voicing what I'm thinking from time to time. I also like to listen, I like to really converse (not debate and not confront) – to hear and be heard. I also have very low threshold for intolerance, bigotry, complete stupidity, assumed lack of motivation (that is, not caused by an underlying cause), wasted time (this does not mean relaxing/down time), and regular mindlessness (everyone needs a mental break from time to time!) – and I'll let you know when I'm seeing these things and why I have a problem with it. I realize that it is my subjective view of the manifestation of these above mentioned issues which is why being given the desire and drive to interact and discuss is such a blessing because although I do my best to refrain from judgement, I am human and do draw unfounded conclusions at times. That said, I am open and I want to understand. I am quite content to disagree and not view a differing opinion as basis for ending a relationship, though sometimes that does happen.
Among many traits I could improve on, I could stand to give compliments more freely and be expressively more compassionate. As I identify parts of me along the way I want to tweak, I will do so. But only because they make me a better Me and add to what is real, not driven in an external people-pleasing way. Surrounded by the people who already love and like me the way I am, it can only get better for everyone.
Finally, and comfortably, it's okay to be me. The repercussions of that – the chance of not being liked by someone – is well worth maintaining authenticity and continued transparency.