For my whole life, I’ve wanted to be liked.
It’s not a bad thing. It’s not the best thing, either. Honestly, it just gets in the way. I’ve only recently learned this, so I’m talking through it as I write. I’m trying to reconcile my own feelings about this.
I definitely think that if you are well-liked and seen as a generally good person, people will want to help you, and that is wonderful. There’s nothing wrong with being a good person. The issue with likability comes if you are only striving to be a good person in someone else’s eyes and are doing a disservice to yourself. The issue comes when you only seek others’ approval and don’t know anything about yourself at all. That’s when it becomes detrimental.
When I was younger, I was very popular and outgoing. That was the first time I was genuinely well-liked because I wasn’t trying to be any which way. I was just very naturally very cool lol. This hasn’t happened since.
Like I said in an earlier post, I grew up and pretended to be someone I wasn’t and then I grew up some more and now I’m rediscovering who I am and what my voice sounds like. But I am not falling back into this trap of likability. I spent too much of my adolescence and young adulthood trying to be likable and, honestly, it did nothing for me. I know this in hindsight, anyway. At the time, I thought I was very naturally very cool.
Likability is when you really don’t want to do something, but you do it anyway because this is what people expect of you.
Likability is when you hitch your voice a few octaves higher so you don’t seem threatening.
Likability is when you only hold views that are easy to digest. You don’t speak out because you don’t want to rock the boat.
Likability is when you’re 100% fake so you feel at home with everyone and no one at the same time.
Likability is scarring and ugly; it runs deep and creates grooves in your skin that take years to fill back up.
When I used to play at likability, it was just so people I called my friends would like me. I was an awkward teenager (who has since grown into an awkward adult, but is comfortable in her awkwardness) and I was always trying to think of the right things to say. People gravitated towards me because I became good at this. I was good at words and lied a lot. I only did it because I wanted friends. I only said yes because I wanted friends, really.
But even that became kind of tiring. I wasn’t having any fun and I wasn’t saying anything real and I didn’t know how to be a real person among people and it was exhausting. I had things I wanted to say so badly, or ideas I wanted to flourish, or experiences I wanted to experience, but none of them fit within my self-imposed likability cave, so I let them go. I was too afraid of what other people thought of me, or what other people would say about me. I was too afraid people wouldn’t like me anymore.
But I mean, if someone dislikes me, is it really the end of the world? This is how I think nowadays. Before, I didn’t like the idea of someone disliking me. I could spout bullshit like, “well, to each their own, I don’t give a fuck,” but I did, I had so many fucks to give about other people liking me — or! Or, at the very least, thinking I was a good person. I was, I am, a good person, so why wouldn’t they see that, why wouldn’t they think that about me? It bothered me so much, the idea that someone might not like me, even after I worked so hard to appeal to as many people as possible. It was insulting.
I can remember so well those times that my voice did get deeper and throatier, and I would express a view — a ‘no’ — that wasn’t in line with what people thought, and I’d get a: “O, you’re not usually like this.” And it would make me shrink. I would shake; I felt sick. I would retreat so fast because I felt suddenly someone had seen who I was and what I was like and they didn’t approve. If they didn’t approve, then there was no way I could be like that. If they didn’t like it, then I would have to quit.
It’s not like that anymore.
It’s taken me awhile and I’m not 100% there yet, but I’m climbing to a place where I am okay being disliked. In fact, if I am disliked for any one reason, that has nothing to do with me and I feel better for it. I feel better being disliked now because I am not trying to mold myself into some beige standard of mediocrity. If they have seen who I am and don’t like it, then that’s fine because at least I’m being honest. I no longer feel like I need to agree with everyone, or to stick to the status quo, so as not to offend or downplay another’s ideas. It’s okay for me to disagree.
This isn’t to say I go around inciting stupidity. I actually dislike people who do that — who are rude and mean and hide it under the guise of being “truthful”. That’s so counter-productive. No, I’m just firmer in my opinions — or, to be honest, in the fact that I have an opinion.
I am a good person because I try, and my likability doesn’t hinge on that. Naturally, as it shouldn’t.