Growing up, I was picked on a lot.
I remember coming home crying because someone had made fun of me for wearing a Little Mermaid shirt to school. I loved the Little Mermaid and that shirt proved my undying devotion to all things Disney!
Another time someone smashed a playdough bowl I had made for my mom for Mother’s day because “it was ugly, like you.”
When I was young, my family moved a lot so I changed schools often. I wanted so badly to fit in and make friends. I tried and tried and eventually, became the little girl that morphed into a complete and utter pushover.
A battle scar that would last a very long time.
If someone at school loved goldfish crackers:—I would give them mine.
If someone didn’t like having to be “it” during tag or hide-and-go-seek—I would be “it” every time!
If a guy I was interested in liked blondes —I would show up to school Monday morning with (horribly done) blonde hair.
To this day I owe my guitar playing skills to the guy I liked in the 11th grade who apparently “only dated musicians.”
For years I did everything and anything that was (or wasn’t) asked of me because I wanted to be liked and accepted by everyone at all times.
I performed the most ridiculous favors for people and went above and beyond to please my friends and family.
One time, while working as a manager at a yoga studio, I fired a girl without notice. She was so distraught and financially stressed out about it that I paid her two weeks severance out of my own pocket (even though I was struggling to pay my own rent).
That was stupid.
I worked ludicrous hours that could certainly be deemed “abusive” by employment Canada. I would wake up in the night worried that not enough was done and go to the yoga studio to clean for the entire next day. I spent hours on projects and money I didn’t have on gifts and supplies, whatever I needed to get the job done and have everyone love me.
I was obsessed.
But the funny thing was that the entire time I did all these things, I didn’t once feel good or happy or pleased with myself.
Being a pushover, I thought that once people loved me, I would feel better.
But instead, I felt resentful and pissed off.
I once ran an at-home cake decorating business and charged a seriously low fee for a cake that otherwise would have cost someone well over $400. I made the cakes for $80 which barely covered the cost of my ingredients.
Someone would ask for a cake at the last minute and I would gladly (at least to their face) accept the challenge, then I would stay up all night crying, swearing and cursing the idiot who invented fondant, take my $80 the next morning and slam the door after my customers turned their back.
Sure, they said thank you and I’m sure they were happy (I hope), but then why didn’t it make me happy too?
I was supposed to be happy!
Here I was, earning stamps of approval left, right and center. And I still felt empty.
When I started teaching yoga these habits showed up yet again.
I would offer to teach classes for free or agree to do favors to the point where I would be reciting passages about love and acceptance in my class while being internally pissed that I was even teaching the class in the first place.
I was angry!
It was out of hand and utterly ridiculous.
Then one day, I was contemplating how I was going to quit my job (which was something I lost way too many hours of sleep over).
I mulled this over with a friend and coach of mine. I explained to her that I wanted to keep the doors open and didn’t want to burn bridges and that I loved and respected the people I worked for.
I still wanted everyone to be happy and to like me. How do I let people down but still make them happy?
She gave me the usual “You can’t please everyone” speech.
And then she said:
“Face it—you’re an asshole”
I almost burst into tears (on top of being a pushover, I am also a huge emotional loser—hence, my ongoing love for Disney).
Was she kidding? I was an asshole?
My immediate reaction was that I needed to change her mind. Did this mean she didn’t like me? Does this mean other people think I’m an asshole too?
Here I was at 24 years old, after spending my entire life trying not to be an asshole—and as it turns out, I was an asshole anyway?
I had spent all those years and all that time trying to get people to like me, to accept me, to want to be around me.
Because I didn’t know how to like me.
Because I didn’t know how to accept me.
And, because I surely didn’t know how to be around me.
I needed validation from anyone who would give it to me. I needed them to love me because I didn’t know how to do that for myself.
My friend then explained to me that I needed to make peace with the fact that to someone, somewhere, I was an asshole. I needed to stop living my life at the expense of my “reputation.”
I needed to get over it and learn to accept that people gossip about me, have bad opinions of me and blatantly just don’t like me as a person.
End of story. Case closed. Asshole status acquired.
I sat with this for a long time…
And then, I started to accept it, meditate on it and be okay with it. I woke up in the morning and would tell myself,
“I’m an asshole.”
This might sound like a pretty messed up and twisted exercise but I needed to wrap my “people pleasing” brain around it. I needed to get over the fact that not everyone was going to like me. But that it doesn’t mean that I don’t have to like me.
It all made sense.
Even I have a mental list of people in my life who I think are assholes!
This doesn’t mean I am going to tell them their little mermaid shirt sucks or squish their playdough creations. I can think people are assholes and still be a respectful and decent human being.
What I think about other people is my own business
And what they think of me is theirs.
Once I started to embrace this, I started to stick up for myself, started to set boundaries and started to say “No.”
And let me tell you something my friend—people really respect assholes.
Now, I put my emotional well-being first and let the rest fall into place. I do what I can with what I have and go inward to find all the love and validation my heart desires.
The moment I decided that I was indeed an asshole, so many things started happening for me.
I got out of my own way.
And now, I am living authentically and I am living for me. I am being exactly who I am, and I truly believe that it’s good enough.
So, let go of whatever sob story you are holding on to about who you are. You can be as kind as you want and hand out marshmallows and money to strangers but do it because it makes you feel good, not because it makes you look good.
Because it doesn’t matter.
You’re still an asshole.
Author: Amanda Kelly
Apprentice Editor: Brandie Smith/Editor: Renée Picard