On the topic of popularity, I once heard someone ask “Well what’s wrong with wanting to be liked?” It can be regarded as quite a pathetic question, but it is undeniably a common one. In coming-of-age times, the new millennium encourages you to be yourself and not care what others think. It’s the perfect advice, but just a wee bit unrealistic if we take it literally. We live in this world with over 7 billion other people so if not family or friends, we’re forced to interact with coworkers or even just the strangers we pass on the street.
We go to a coffee shop and another human being makes our drink and then yet another rings us up. Is it practical to completely disregard how anyone else may think or feel in reference to you at all times? Of course not because if we walked out without paying for the coffee, law enforcement would think something of us that could result in punishment.
When you interview for a job, the hiring manager makes you an offer based on your interview, resume etc. You want to find love, but finding love would be incredibly painful if they didn’t love you back. In some mandatory situations in life, another person’s opinion of you might actually matter. However, there can be something wrong with wanting to be liked. There is something tremendously wrong with wanting to be liked by others more than you like yourself.
Wanting to be liked to the point that you betray yourself is terrible. In high school, I wanted to impress classmates so badly that I once stole some test answers. I ended up getting myself and two of those classmates kicked out of the class our parents had already paid for. What was worse than getting in trouble was that it was a test I could have easily passed without even doing much studying.
The truth I eventually had to admit to myself was that I didn’t really do it for the answers in the first place. I did it in the interest of popularity, to kiss up to classmates. I wanted to entertain them, impress them and gain their approval from the poorly planned “favor”. Instead, I just embarrassed all of us. I actually made myself less likable, but more importantly, I went against my own intelligence and morals in hopes that the classmates would see me as “cooler”.
Wanting to be liked to the point that you put yourself in harm’s way is awful. If you find yourself doing things you wouldn’t normally do or doing anything solely for the purpose of someone else’s impression, your desire to be liked has gone too far.
It’s also about choosing whose opinion you seriously consider. The cashier’s opinion of you not paying for a coffee won’t matter as much as the cop’s who stops you for it. In my class, I should have valued my teacher’s opinion more than my classmates’ since the fate of my grade was in her hands. What are your goals? Whose support or collaboration might those goals involve? Your parents? Your children? God? There is nothing wrong with valuing opinions of those who truly know you and have your best interest at heart. There is a lot wrong with wanting the approval of people whose approval isn’t required.
“I don’t care what you think about me. I don’t think about you at all.” – Coco Chanel
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.” If someone appears to be trying to bring you down, they are obviously already below you. With that being said, there is no reason for you to stoop down to their level. Look ahead. After ensuring you like yourself first, consider the opinion of those you already have a mutual respect with.
Dr. Steve Maraboli said, “When I accept myself, I am freed from the burden of needing you to accept me.” The more you love your own decisions, the less you’ll feel the need for them to be approved by others. When we are uncomfortable with ourselves, we tend to look to outside sources for validation. That is dangerous territory because we were each put on this earth for a unique personal purpose. Had I kept in mind that I was not in class to be accepted by other people, I would never have cheated on that test. I always felt like I had to prove I belonged wherever I was, but it is unnecessary. The fact that God put you here is MORE than enough.