The questions roamed around endlessly in my head...
--Did I just say the right thing?
--Did I do that wrong?
--Am I wearing the right shirt?
--Do they think I'm stupid?
--Will they remember my mistake forever?
It all can become quite overwhelming rather quickly. And it did. Obviously, trying to be everything to everyone leaves little room for you to be yourself. But then I read Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's wise words on the trappings of likability, and her advice was like a shot of truth to my heart...
I think that what our society teaches young girls, and I think it’s also something that’s quite difficult for even older women and self-professed feminists to shrug off, is that idea that likability is an essential part of you, of the space you occupy in the world, that you’re supposed to twist yourself into shapes to make yourself likable, that you’re supposed to hold back sometimes, pull back, don’t quite say, don’t be too pushy, because you have to be likable.
So what I want to say to young girls is forget about likability. If you start thinking about being likable you are not going to tell your story honestly, because you are going to be so concerned with not offending, and that’s going to ruin your story, so forget about likability. And also the world is such a wonderful, diverse, and multifaceted place that there’s somebody who’s going to like you; you don’t need to twist yourself into shapes.
That's the key, I think. If life is about telling your story and telling it honestly, there's no time for worrying about what people think. The minute you start taking time to consider how people are going to perceive you? Well, it's almost as if you're censoring yourself; that's not fair to you or anyone else. Ever.
And, really, think about it: People already have so much going on in their lives, and like my sister always says, "Do you think they're actually going to remember this in the grand scheme of things?" Now, that's not to say that they don't care about you. It just means that people probably aren't nearly as attuned to your life and behavior as you think they are. Do you remember what your co-worker said in that meeting yesterday? What was your sister wearing last weekend? What was the punchline of that corny joke your doctor told you during your last visit?
Translation: Everyone's got their own stuff that they're dealing with.
Do you put a high price on what people think of you, friends? Has it changed over the years? How have you balanced your desire to be likable with your need to just be yourself? What advice do you have for those struggling with the issue these days? Let's chat, shall we? xoxo
[Photos via We Heart It]