A good (and way too large) chunk of my life was been spent on the hard-as-fuck quest to be liked by the many. Or rather, the all. Everyone, always, anywhere. It’s an impossible one in it’s most basic form, because it is a fact of life that you will never in a million years be liked by all. But I still tried. And in truth, I still, in many ways, fight for the approval of those around me on a daily basis. Silly, really. But hey. Girl’s gotta have goals, ammirite?
However, I was in my car yesterday and during that drive painfully reminded of how very impossible it is to achieve that generalist, well-liked status. For the simple fact that there is something out there that we call ‘first impressions‘. You know. Those two words from that horrendous cliche: ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression‘.
I have a pet-peeve for cliches. Hate them. Hate seeing them used. Hate havin’ them apply (or applied) to me. And I often find myself hating the truest of cliches the most, actually. The ones that are so undeniably that expressing them out loud has your body physically reject them. That ‘D’OH‘ moment that just makes you want to stick out your tongue and wave a fist at the mere existence of that cliche. Because no matter how much you might want to fight them, they’re going to hold true. That’s how they became cliches in the first place. For being undeniably true, always.
Here’s me, driving my car.
Totally crappy car by the way, as you might recall me complaining about before.
My exit is about to come up. Which I notice only about 100 metres before the actual turn-off point because you know, I was fixing my lipstick (shame on me, shaaaaame!). I blame the fact that I have to use Google Maps on my phone since the damn car doesn’t have navigation. It’s never the lipstick.
So, naturally, I swerve into the lane I need to be in, maybe, possibly, slightly, unexpectedly cutting in front of another innocent road user. Which I kindly and vehemently apologized for, out loud, I might add. Not that they would’ve heard. Because I (deservedly) got a honk and a fist wave and a look that would’ve burned me down to cinders had I been a piece of wood. But hey, I was in my lane. And I normally drive like a good girl.
Then I realized that only I knew that. They didn’t.
To them I would always be that douchebag in the Renault who cut them off. That horrible driver which ruined their peaceful commute home. The person they’d get home and tell their wife about ‘you won’t believe what happened to me on the way home‘. Despised. Permanently. On the basis of that first impression. That I will never ever ever get a chance to correct.
And I tallied all the other moments where my general ‘good‘ behavior’ totally meant an absolute 0 to someone who only ever saw me on my worst. And judged me on that merit. People who, in the grand scheme of my life, will never like me. Lost causes. Because I ‘didn’t have my best moment‘.
I counted the times that I may or may not have stolen a parking spot at a busy mall (which I would never purposely do, but where I just accidentally pulled in before them).
Where I drove over the speed limit and scared a biker by very nearly missing them. Or some other error in the car that I normally drive more like a granny than anything else.
And the times where I was in a foul mood for other reasons, and snapped at some innocent cashier or waiter or other asking me stupid questions or getting my order wrong, where I’m generally (as I have worked in stores and restaurants myself) very kind, forgiving and pleasant to those providing me with service. Off-days. Off-moments. Off-interactions which STILL color their perception of me regardless. Because that IS who I AM to them. At that time. They won’t know all the good things about me. Ever.
No matter how well-behaved, pleasant and generally awesome I try to be, there’s always going to be moments where someone catches me at a bad time (they are also there, a-plenty). And when they catch me at a bad time, while it’s our only interaction – it is impossible to go for that ‘liked‘ check on the list of EVERYBODY MUST LIKE ME.
Which means that the ‘dislike‘ list is already plenty long to make me wonder…why bother on obsessively working on being what everyone else needs me to be in hopes of filling the ‘good‘ list. All these years spent twisting and bending myself into pretzels to land in the good books of those around me, and then you lose it on a lipstick-induced road-error? That seems to be a very inefficient way on handling life.
These days I often hear myself say ‘I don’t get paid to be nice‘ as a defense for not ALWAYS doing what is wanted, expected or required for round about everyone in my life. I have started valuing honesty and directness over silence and allowance (of bad behaviors). And practice putting myself first in situations where not doing so might cost me more than ‘a like‘. To be liked is important. To like yourself is a lot more importanter.
(You know. A bit of poetic freedom in that expression).
Because if I don’t and these people I aim to please and give up parts of myself for, might turn out to just be passing road-raging drivers in my life whose opinion I will never ever get to shape into liking me, even if I’d want to. And that…sounds even sillier than desperately wanting to be liked. Don’t it?