I am about to celebrate a milestone birthday. The big 4-0.
Forty used to seem so old, and I figured by the time I reached this decade I’d have it all figured out.
But here I am, and I don’t have it all figured out at all. In fact, in many ways, I still feel like an awkward and weird teenager, except that now I have wrinkles and age spots snuggled in next to the hormone-induced acne.
But there are a few things I’ve figured out in the past 39ish years. I’ve learned (or rather, am learning) the art of not giving a fuck. Well, not giving a fuck about certain things, at least. Like diets and whether my kids eat all their vegetables at dinner. I’ve learned that life’s too short to be anyone other than who I am, and I can sniff out fake bullshit like a bloodhound. Which leads me to one of the most important lessons I have ever learned — not everyone needs to like you.
I wish I could say I’ve totally mastered this and could dole out advice like a passive-aggressive mother-in-law with rose-colored parenting glasses, but alas, I’m still figuring it out. I’m dipping my toes in the icy-cold pool of this painful truth. Just writing these words alone feels like a mental note, a Post-it on the mirror of my awkward, soon-to-be-40 psyche that reads:
NOTE TO SELF: Not everyone is going to like you.
ANOTHER NOTE TO SELF: Not everyone needs to like you.
Some people won’t like you because you are too honest, too bold. Some people will say you’re too opinionated. You speak your mind. You talk about politics and religion and all the other things they tell you not to talk about in “polite” company.
That’s okay. Not everyone needs to like your opinions or agree with you. You still need to speak out for justice and love and compassion. Because if you want to change the world, sometimes you need to shake things up and piss people off.
Keep talking. Keep fighting.
Some people won’t like you because you’re too this or too that. You swear too often. You laugh too loud. You talk way, way too much.
Those are not your people.
Some people won’t like you because of your race, religion, gender, or politics. Some people will think you’re too liberal. For others, you aren’t liberal enough. You’ll be too religious for some, not religious enough for others. Some people won’t like you because you aren’t cool enough or interesting enough. They might not like you because you aren’t successful or accomplished or popular.
Some people won’t like you because you hurt them, intentionally or unintentionally. That’s on you, girl. Fix it. You need to make that shit right. Own your mistakes.
Some people won’t like you just because. No reason. Just because you aren’t their cup of tea. And that’s okay too. Not everyone has to like everyone because that’s not how the world works. Unless you’re Nutella.
This is a hard lesson to learn, let me tell you. As a self-professed people pleaser, it’s a hard-ass lesson to learn. I want people to like me. And when they don’t? When someone snubs me on Facebook or I don’t get invited to a party and instead see the photos on social media? Well, I’m not gonna lie — it hurts like a motherfucker. But the truth is not everyone likes everyone. It’s as simple, and as complex, as that.
When I think about what I want for my children, it isn’t success or fame or popularity. I want them to be content, happy, comfortable with who they are. I want them to be their best selves and live their best lives. I want them to like themselves. No, I don’t just want them to like themselves — I want them to love themselves.
If I want those things for them, why not for me too?
So while it’s a brutally painful lesson to learn — and I would much prefer to be the universally liked jar of Nutella (wouldn’t we all?) — I can’t please everyone. Not everyone will like me. Not everyone needs to like me. And that’s okay.
Now where’s that jar of Nutella?