For the first 35 years of my life, my goal was, above all else, to be liked. Not uncommon for women in my generation (or women at all, for that matter) but for me, it was priority numero uno for a very long time. I would do anything to ensure that I was liked and accepted and learned very quickly how to bob, weave, and blend my way into whatever crowd I was with at the time. Sometimes I messed it up (through a poorly timed joke or by being ‘too eager’), but most of the time, I had that shit dialed in. I knew how to charm, joke, or doormat my way into the heart of almost anyone.
But what started out as a survival tactic when I was young, turned into something different as I traversed my 20’s and 30’s. What was once very important to me – being liked at all costs, became less of a priority, with self-acceptance making its way towards the top of the priority list. (Hallelujah!)
When I look at what has shifted, it isn’t so much that I don’t want to be liked (of course I do, everyone does) … but now, when I find myself on the receiving end of someone’s disapproval, I am able to look at it a little more objectively. Now, I decide how much power I am willing to give the other person’s opinion, rather than just blindly accepting it as proof that there is something fundamentally wrong with me. Also, I am less focused on proving myself to be right, and more focused on whether or not my actions and opinions are aligned with my personal values.
Somewhere along the way, my opinion of myself became more important than other people’s opinions of me. (Again, Hallelujah!)
Now that is not to say that I do not welcome feedback from the people in my life that I love and respect. If someone in my inner circle feels I have been out of line, or feels I could benefit from another perspective, I 100% want to hear about it. And I promise I will listen. But, I reserve the right to be true to myself first and foremost, because if there are going to be consequences, I would much rather they be a result of letting someone else down, than of letting myself down.
This isn’t about not caring or not being willing to listen to other people’s perspectives or perceptions, it is about trusting myself first – something that was not present for me 20 years ago. It is about remaining open and loving, without taking on other people’s garbage that is not mine to carry.
As Mark Manson details in his book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, “We all have a limited number of fucks to give; pay attention to where and who you give them to.”
It seems that my 30’s was the decade of learning to be stingy with my f*cks, and what a valuable lesson that has been. I still bob and weave, and charm and joke my way through life, but now, priority numero uno is liking myself. And as it turns out, that is a lot easier, and a whole lot more rewarding.