There was a point in my life that I’m not sure that I had a solid personality.
I was what people said I was. If I said one thing and another person disagreed with me, I’d retract my statement to somehow force it to agree with theirs.
If someone wanted me to do something that I really didn’t want to, I’d do it anyway—or risk feeling extremely guilty for letting them down. And if another person wanted to say, sleep in the comfortable, cozy bed, then I would be the first person to say that I was totally fine with sleeping on the floor so that they could.
I lived this way for several years, and I told myself that I was right for doing it. I was being selfless and kind. I was sacrificing my comfort for the comfort of others. The way that I saw it, this was the way that you had to live in order to be a moral human being.
Looking back on it now, however, I think that I should reveal what was actually motivating my actions back then: I wanted people to like me. I wanted to be accepted and loved, and the only way that I could think to do that was to let them get whatever they wanted.
If I thought that someone wouldn’t like a smart woman, then I was stupid. If I thought that someone wanted me quiet and docile, then I was quiet and docile. It was no big thing. It was just what they wanted.
Well, in retrospect, no. What I wanted was for people to like me, but what I was actually communicating to them was that they mattered more than I did. They could get whatever they wanted from me and so they took advantage of that, and why wouldn’t they? They had every opportunity to.
And more than that, I was forgetting something very important during all of this: In order for someone to like me, they need to know me. And that wasn’t going to happen if whoever I was kept changing depending on the situation.
Sometimes, I believed in one thing—sometimes, another. Sometimes, I liked this; sometimes, I liked that. And if someone did manage to pinpoint a specific persona on me, who could say that that person was actually me?
We get so caught up with being liked that, sometimes, we forget that it might actually be better to be disliked. And I’m not talking about being disliked by everyone. I’m not talking about being rude or disregarding someone else’s feelings. What I’m talking about is standing up for what you believe in—for what you know to be right—and maybe making some enemies along the way simply because other people don’t agree with you.
And here’s the thing: Whatever you believe in, whether it be something political or the mere fact that you deserve to be treated as a person and an equal, there is always going to be someone who disagrees with you. Not everyone, hopefully, but someone. And that’s okay. Not everyone has to agree with you. The most important thing is that you are comfortable with your choice, and that you stand by what you believe.
And, furthermore, the people who make a difference in the world aren’t always the most well-liked people. They make a difference because they say something new and they refuse to back down from it, and that will always be met with some resistance.
I know that many of the people who made big differences in my life were not necessarily people that I liked at the time, and that was because they challenged me. They took me out of my comfort zone and forced me to grow—which might not have been what I wanted, but it was what I needed.
That is what the world needs—people that force growth. People who don’t care about being liked, but are not cruel in the process. People who are in tune with themselves and their emotions enough to know what they believe in, and who are strong enough to stand by it.
And while it might not necessarily be easy to become one of these people, it is worthwhile. Because once you become a person who doesn’t care about being liked first and foremost, then you get to know yourself better.
You might even come to like the person you are.
No longer is there all of this clutter about what you should be and what you should believe. You are just you, in all of your messiness and your flaws, and the relationships that you do make will be stronger for it.
People will know you then. They might not always agree with you, but they will know you.
And that is so much more valuable.
Author: Ciara Hall
Editor: Leah Sugerman
Copy Editor: Danielle Beutell
Social Editor: Khara-Jade Warren