I used to worry so much about being liked. I wouldn’t admit it to myself at the time, but I spent much of high school, college, and a few years after undergrad stressing out about being a universally well-liked person (though I now realize that person doesn’t exist). Unlike most boys, girls are often brought up to be likable. Being “ladylike” has social capital – if we look and act pleasant, we’re taught we’ll move ahead. Be too loud or bossy or unkempt and you may create some enemies.
I’ve spent most of my life feeling that my likeability (including how I’m perceived physically) was what mattered most. These were feelings that I internalized and battled with constantly. I didn’t want to feel that way, and I knew that it went against all that I felt I stood for. But time and time again I gave into my insecurities and felt that I wasn’t enough. Not pretty enough…not thin enough…not cool enough…not clever enough…not fun enough…not smart enough…
After years of wasting so much time worrying about my likeability, there came a point during graduate school that I decided to say fuck it! I’m done caring! I don’t remember the exact moment or what led to it, but I chose to work to block my destructive thinking. Stressing out about what people think of you not only takes up time and energy, but it’s pretty boring. Maybe it was getting older, or the election, or both – but I was done caring.
Although I feel like my transformation took place over night, I know that breaking the pattern of destructive thinking is not that simple. It took years of confidence building and a bit of a wake up call (if he’s president does some of this minor shit really matter?) for me to get to the bottom of my insecurities. I’m also keenly aware that women are socialized to feel this way, and I’m not going to let the status quo bring me down without a fight. So my new mantra is, if you like me, that’s great! If you don’t, that’s okay too. There are still days that my insecurities sprout up and try to usurp all of my energy, but I remind myself of my mantra. It might sound hyperbolic to claim that this new way of thinking has transformed my life, but it has. Feeling free to be myself has empowered me to live a fuller life, and it’s a hell of a lot more fun!