I am easy to like.
I don’t know exactly how I got this way, but I’m working hard to undo it.
I’ve learned, over time, that when I share the parts of me that are gentle, soft, accommodating, pretty but not too pretty, concerned with other people’s needs, productive, steady and stable, and definitely not too emotional, it is much easier for people to like me.
But the problem is, the more easy to like I’ve become, the less I’ve actually liked myself.
All of the parts of me that didn’t fit the model were the parts that needed fixing, improvement—”self-help.” I drank that Kool-Aid for a while, thinking that if I could just do all of the things the books and teachers told me, I could “fix” the parts that didn’t fit.
It is exhausting.
Exercise at least 30 mins a day. Eliminate all carbs, dairy, meat, and alcohol. But don’t focus too much on your body or the struggles you have there. Think only positive thoughts because—remember!—you create your reality, and you are the reason why your life is either good or bad. Learn how to communicate in a way that makes other people feel valued and seen so that they will want to hear what you have to say and maybe buy what you’re selling.
I did all the things. And it worked—a little. Or, at least I could make it appear like it did.
I got really good at speaking the language of self-improvement, and knew all of the things to say and do to make it look like I was getting better. I was liked. So easy to like. But inside, I felt stagnant. I felt the parts of me that wanted to be known weren’t welcome—the angry, sad, scared, resentful, wild, sexual, confused, beautiful, outrageous parts that just wouldn’t be “helped.”
And so, over the last few years I’ve begun the journey of reclamation. Of creating safe space for all of me. And sharing the truth of these parts.
My greatest fear has been that I won’t be liked for this new and ever-changing version of me—that I will share what is true for me, and that the people I care about won’t understand or be able to accept this.
You know what? It happened. I have been misunderstood and rejected for my wholeness. I have shared what is true for me, and been locked out of people’s lives. I have shared opinions and choices and been told that I’m selfish and misguided. I have stepped more fully into the work that I love and been asked, “Who are you to do this?”
At first I thought I was doing it wrong. That maybe the parts of me I had long kept hidden should just stay there. But then I started to notice that, even when I was being outwardly rejected by others, I was starting to like myself again. I felt clean and open inside.
As relationships fell away, new ones took their place—relationships in which I felt safe to share my wholeness; people who were walking the same path of reclamation. It’s still difficult for me to experience the sting of rejection—to share my brilliance and to be witness to the world’s desire to dim it. But I know now that the places of rejection are just not for me. They aren’t confirmation that I’m doing it wrong, but rather a do not enter sign showing me that those places and people aren’t meant for me.
I’ve learned that being liked isn’t a badge of honour, but rather a prison sentence.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not waiting for my next go around to live a life of freedom. I want to spend this life not being liked.