Do you ever take a step back and evaluate yourself and how you’ve evolved? I always seem to focus on the bad things I’ve had to overcome on my journey, but sometimes you just have to take a second and see how far you’ve come as a person. I recently did this when I got back to school after winter break.
In the past years, I’ve practiced some unhealthy habits that weren’t very beneficial to my self esteem. The worst was that I craved acceptance from everyone. I needed it so much that I would do anything for everyone I met to like me. I had to be everyone’s friend and be liked by everyone. And that desire led to me pretending to be someone I wasn’t, pretending to like things I had no interest in, and doing things for people who barely noticed me. And if I thought someone didn’t like, I would obsess about it constantly. What did I do to make them not like me? What did need to change about myself for them to think I was cool? There were times when I would catch myself and wonder why I needed approval so badly. I could never answer that until now. I craved this acceptance because I couldn’t give it to myself. I was struggling to accept myself and I thought that if everyone thought I was cool, maybe it would rub off on me and I would suddenly love myself.
It happened on New Years Eve. I was with my friends and some other people. There was a girl, we’ll call her Karen, who I could never win over. We would always butt heads or she would think everything I did was crazy or weird. Every time she was around I would over-analyze the things I said and did to make sure she would like it. I would agree with everything she said and when she made fun of me, I would laugh and pretend like it didn’t bother me. But that night was different.
The day before, I made a promise to myself. I promised myself that from that day forward, I would never change myself to fit someone else’s expectations of me. I knew I wasn’t going to magically stop giving a crap about what other people thought of me, but that night I saw a change in myself. Where I would feel panic at the judgmental look in her eyes, I felt apathy. So as Karen began to mock everything I did, I stood my ground. I refused to laugh at her mean and condescending jokes. I refused to change my opinion when it didn’t match hers. And I refused to apologize for my “weirdness”. I didn’t care if I made her uncomfortable and I didn’t care if I lost her approval. Because not everyone in this world is going to like you, and that’s completely okay. You are not everyone’s cup of tea and you have to be okay with that.
I didn’t realize how monumental this was for me until a few days ago. Sure, it seems small compared to other things in my life, but it was still something. It was proof that I am growing. That I’m making progress on this excruciatingly long journey to self-acceptance. I hope me sharing this encourages someone else to make that change. Never apologize for being yourself. Don’t change yourself to fit someone else’s mold. Make your own.