Look, it’s straight up natural to want to be liked. We all do.
It’s pretty much programmed into us from kids that we must follow, without question, certain protocol and sure-fire ways to be accepted (age and culturally-dependant no doubt)- and I understand the need for a great many RULES to some extent, mostly so parents and teachers can retain some kind of control-
Yet everything for the most part, tends to be pinned to the premise that likeability and success comes from conformity.
There’s an emphasis on following the crowd, appearing ‘cool’ and not standing out too much- meaning variants on personality (that’s everyone then)- quirks and individuality are not truly celebrated or encouraged.
It’s refreshing to see things are, and have changed, in education when it comes to our own kids in comparison to my own childhood, but that desire to fit a perceived mould is still a worry for many, children or not.
…Now, aged 35, I simply won’t accept that formulaic conformity or definition of what cool is. I’m my own cool!!!
Not embracing who you are FULLY, is undoubtedly, in my opinion, totally and utterly limiting and doesn’t fit with my own personality nor way of life, and honestly, never did.
No longer 11 years old, I don’t need permission from anyone, to be myself.
I’m me, happy in my life as a mum/ blogger/filmmaker/hustler and I certainly don’t feel the need to explain or justify my choices or the way I roll.
And neither should you.
I’m an artist, baby, positive and open but if I’m not making, writing, painting, shooting or creating in some way, I get pent-up and frustrated.
I know who I am.
And thank goodness for long runs hey!
…Let’s face it, the need for acceptance and the pursuit for popularity is rife, ever more so with social media- and it can become consuming at best (how many followers do I have on twitter today?) and destructive at worst (no one commented on my instagram picture, everyone MUST hate me). See?!
It’s just not healthy.
Yet it’s the world we all live in, blogger or not.
We share to be liked, seeking instant gratification from online approval and find ourselves addicted to being acknowledged and praised.
Most of the time, though, and I blog full time, I HONESTLY don’t value myself or base my self-worth on digital numbers or others’ opinions of me, online on in IRL.
Not in an all-consuming, ‘you will make me hate myself if you don’t like me’ kind of way.
And I’m telling you this because I want you to feel the same because it’s TOTALLY LIBERATING!
If you’re struggling on, or offline, battling to feel accepted by others, banking on people to make you feel good rather than seeking that from within, then it’s time to work on that shiznit and stop that controlling pattern in its tracks. Immediately.
Sadly, I’ve received a lot of emails lately from lots of you whom appear to be consumed with what others think.
It’s making you beat yourselves up or even stop blogging/taking part in social media and hanging out with people in 3D.
I’ve received private messages from mostly bloggers, or those who work (and play) online, stating comments on their blogs along with passive aggressive behaviour, cliquishness and the like, has been eating them up and breaking them down.
I want to help free them, and you, if this is affecting you too, from hinging your confidence on anyone else.
You need to know that seeking others’ approval will never make you happy.
As cheeseball as it sounds (yep it’s the 90’s again and I’m bringing back ‘cheeseball’-we really must strive towards feeling content in our own skin, knowing and liking ourselves and fine-tuning our own judgement.
Without the latter, others’ views will always dominate our own.
They will contribute to making us feel out of whack, confused and directionless.
Without that self-imposed clear judgement, we’ll begin to question things which are not real, we’ll relentlessly second-guess ourselves, and will end up feeling drained and unhappy.
Here’s an example-
For what seems like no reason at all, someone appears to have a problem with you, they try and tear you down and humiliate you on, or offline. (Yep, sadly I write from experience).
You worry or convince yourself, it’s you.
And don’t get me wrong, sometimes it WILL be you.
We all make mistakes.
You just have to get to a position where you can make a fair judgement call and decipher whether you’re at fault or not.
Did you do something wrong?
If so, fix it, apologise, be honest, admit weakness (it’s OK, let it out girl) and PROPERLY work towards not being a douche again.
If not, and the other person/people’s behaviour appears unreasonable or unjust, accept that the issue is theirs.
For whatever reason too.
I was once told I looked like a ‘mean girl’ from a uni friend’s school days so she’d written me off on day one, only to find I was nothing like her-yay!
…And the other thing, once you stop worrying about needing others’ approval, people will naturally gravitate towards you.
Because you appear to be and ARE strong.
You’re not needy, far from it, you’re at your most powerful. That applies even if at the start, you’re feigning that self confidence and strength- which believe me, with practice, becomes REAL.
The more you show yourself, and the world you’re A-OK with your imperfect but bad-ass self and your choices-people will want a piece of that, and you.
A bit like the ‘hard to get’ boyfriend whom, once you stopped being so into him and needy, wanted to put a ring on it. Or in my case, I’d moved on by that point and met the someone else worthy of my heart who I’d fallen for. Bye bye now!
You basically need to get to a space where you’re a little bit in love with yourself.
Humble with a hint of Kanye!
See, hand on heart, I know if I met me, I’d want to be my friend. For reals.
It feels pretty good if rather un-British, to type that out people.
I’d totes hang out with myself.
Not in PMT week of course, oh no, definitely not then. I’d stay well clear during the crazy ‘hormonies’ time.
See, I know myself.
So in the words of Pharell, simply get to ‘know who you are’ too.
But how to reach that level of self-acceptance and feeling content (outside of PMT week);) I hear you cry?!
Remind yourself of your fabulosity until you believe in it basically.
Your good points. Not forgetting the bad stuff too, the things you might be hiding from, your fears, downfalls, the behaviour you want and need to improve and work on.
Speak to those you trust and admire for truthful feedback.
Deep seated issues, speak to a professional. There’s no shame in reaching out.
A councillor helped me hugely after a traumatic birth with my first son and helped me rediscover and build myself back together.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, be honest with yourself and others. REALLY HONEST. Yes I’m shouting.
My chilled out and ever wise husband, Peter and I were discussing how to tackle disagreements before Christmas.
His overriding advice is to always be honest and clear about your feelings when trying to resolve issues.
Men find it far easier it seems, to do that (OK I’m only going on the men I know) but why do we women often struggle to be frank about our feelings with one another? I know I do.
I often worry if I do just that, say how I feel, I’ll hurt others’ feelings, so I fail at being entirely honest finding it easier to distance myself and ignore the issues at hand.
I have however, put Peter’s advice into practice more, and now wherever possible, kindly explain why I feel a certain way, try and discuss the situation, and resolve conflict- and Peter was right, life has gotten easier.
Of course, there’ll always be relationships and friendships that just aren’t worth the fight, that feel too negative and destructive, that might have died a death long ago, as relationships sometimes do, or just no longer make any sense. Then? Then it’s time to walk away.
For the most part, though, speaking up, opening that dialogue and being earnest, creates respect and understanding and can help you all move forward.
And here’s another thing, the more truthful you are to others, the more you’ll value and like yourself.
Don’t be scared to be you.
To tell others how, what and why you feel the way you do.
Communication, however hard, can help mend most problems and create clarity and peace.
I know how tough it can be accepting who you are.
I get it, I’ve been there.
I understand that craving for acknowledgement and endorsement that you’re one kick-ass human being, yet I feel in a space where I know myself, I’m genuine (I can’t do or bear fakery), I accept not everyone will understand who I am, as I won’t, them, heck, some might totally and absolutely misunderstand me, or assume a lot about me that just isn’t based on truth- but there will always be people who ‘get me’ too.
Those who dislike others, particularly without any ground to, most often see characteristics they wish they had in themselves, in you, or tellingly, things they hate about themselves in you, that wind them up.
They hate you because you act as a metaphorical mirror reflecting back at them.
So it’s true what they say-other’s views are ultimately more about themselves, than they are about you.
I love these wise words from my pal, TV Psychologist Emma Kenny and founder of wellbeing site SWITCH who emphasises the importance of being proud of yourself-
‘The truly amazing thing about human beings is how unique each and every one of us is, yet for some reason so many of us feel the need to follow others and to fit in. If you want to feel confident, full of self worth and fabulous, you have to be proud of who you are and un-apologetically so. Don’t look at others to give you approval and self worth, look at your own intrinsic gifts and consider your own dreams and then kiss goodbye to all those self limiting beliefs and fears’.
Surround yourself with positivity and those who make you happy-
I know I gravitate towards open, smart, kind, creative, outgoing (for the most part), high energy, self-assured, strong and sisterly women (and brotherly men).
Those similar to the blueprints of my closest family, and oldest friends.
This also makes sense culturally (I’m a British Cypriot whom are traditionally family-orientated and larger than life in many respects)- but I have many friends, and indeed a husband who defies some and many, of those characteristics outlined above.
Opposites attract too don’t forget?!
Nothing is black and white.
Peter has a quiet, calm personality, although he can be talkative and outgoing too, he’s on the whole, in Buddha mode. Laid back, relaxed, smart and super-strong.
I’m a high-passion, crazy worrier, ‘idea a minute’, creative, deep-thinking, energetic kind of girl- and a perfectionist (in recovery) too- so we work perfectly well together (!) I fire him up, he calms me down!
Everything boils down to energy and intuition. And when good people come together, amazing things happen…
Now let’s rewind.
Let me tell you a bit about my background-
I never felt nor was I a particularly popular girl at high school, a free-thinking, non conformist at a strict all girls’ school meant that truthfully, I never really fitted in.
The teachers would, I remember, relentlessly try and change my personality, crush my spirit, quieten me in every way, rather than play to, and encourage my strengths.
It was the traditional mode of education and I was by no means angelic either.
Why though? I didn’t ONCE feel appreciated.
Not from day one, where, hand on heart, I didn’t realise you couldn’t speak in assembly, chatted throughout, and was screamed at by the Assistant Head at the end of it and blacklisted from the beginning. Put on the naughty list. Never really given a real chance.
I was academic but utterly bored in most of my classes bar English and Art- so I rebelled and despite missing most of school, standing in the hallway for ‘bad behaviour’ (oh those school fees-sorry again folks), I gained glowing GCSE results, aced my A’ Levels at a Catholic Sixth Form I loved and felt happy and popular at-before heading off to uni at Goldsmiths’ University of London that was everything and more I’d hoped for in further education.
A uni which thrived at honing creatives who think out of the box (alumni include Oscar winning Steve McQueen, Hollywood director Sam Taylor-Johnson, along with Mary Quant and a great many other renowned filmmakers, artists musicians, psychologists, actors and more, the list is endless) and I fell so in love with the place, that I stayed on after my degree and gained a distinction in my MA aged just 21. Proud- but most importantly- happy, HAPPY times.
It admittedly took years to relearn a lot of the damage high school did to me. It stripped away my confidence for one, so starting the road to self-love as sickly as that sounds, trusting others, feeling valued and emotionally safe, took time- but I’m there, most of the time.
I know my boundaries- I can’t tolerate bitchiness from both men or women, something that was rife at school or any kind of bullyish behaviour, disloyalty or general pettiness.
I’m too old for that shiznit. Truly.
I believe in the power of micro politics. Being fair. Standing up for what I believe in.
I’m certainly not afraid to cut out negative people-
Kids have made that easier for me, for sure.
Having babies means prioritising time and energy to those who matter and getting ruthless on those who drain, and don’t.
Like me, it’s time to believe how fabulous you are-
YES to that.
I write and run my business in my own style and on my own terms, I don’t worry what others will think because I’m happy with what works for me.
I don’t need to conform to some kind of ideal or definition of what a full time blogger/filmmaker or mum of two is.
This is my life, my rules, my way.
And by doing what we love, we inspire others.
I will always be kind but I won’t take any s**** either.
I don’t want anyone to feel like I did aged 11, desperate to be acknowledged and accepted, asked to change by others, and with the worst eyebrows Leeds has no doubt ever seen (Carpet World samples anyone?) -thank goodness for killer eyebrow game, now hey (another thing that took years to get right).
I love Emma Kenny words that ‘ learning to silence those negative voices from school and your past, is how to move forward’.
So peeps, just go do your thing, surround yourself with people that bring out the best in you, make you feel like you want to punch the air (not yourself) and keep that tribe nurtured and close. Build each other up.
Try not to judge others, but understand.
Don’t waste time and emotion on people who simply don’t deserve it.
Forgive, be humble (with a bit of Kanye) and worry about your own goals.
Once you do, everything will fit into place, I promise.
Thanks to Pinterest for all the ‘Wise Words’ images. If you want to see more where they came from to feel totally kick-ass and inspired, then check out my WONDERFUL WORDS board.