Opinion: Liking Yourself

Though I have sort of stuck to aloneness for most of my life, it is now becoming apparent to me that the basis of some attitudes that I have considered odd are owing to my little desire to impress others. The other side of this coin is that what I find impressive is simply based on what I think worthy rather than what I am told is. This is ordinary enough that it should have been apparent to me, but I see now that the reason it was not is because my idea of the remarkable is often different from that of the status quo.  For instance I am not impressed by fame nor by wealth. I know these things are exciting and mean something in terms of comfort and happiness but I do not find them attractive. I am impressed by different kinds of behaviors and intelligence. I am interested in people who are different from me, I am curious about how they live based on their definitions. I think now that I have always felt a higher need to like myself more than to have others like me. This is probably why I do not know how to sell myself, and why one day, upon meeting with a friend, all I was interested in sharing were my flaws (I never saw them again).

To like oneself is an uncomfortable effort in what I think to be a life long process of self-acceptance because it demands complete self-honesty——being sincere about who you really are. This "who" is an account of your past actions and morals. I acknowledged a behavior in my journal recently: something that for years I had a hard time even thinking about. Writing about a flaw that I am incredibly sensitive about and ashamed of, and knowing that someone could stumble upon my diary and read it is scary, but I was able to do so because I am working on facing this aspect of myself which I feel I can only improve by accepting. Yes a paradox. Interestingly, over time in self-relationships we develop a pride in our ability to face ourselves: judge ourselves, allow feelings of shame, allow an examination of guilt, allow forgiveness and work on annihilating habits, knowing that we may never actually succeed. Every step is extremely uncomfortable and the need to be defensive is overwhelmingly strong. And yet we do feel good about ourselves. In a sort of prideful way. I once read an article on Marc Jacobs in the New Yorker and he said he liked how he felt after working out. I like how I feel after working out too. I think a lot of people do. More so than how we feel when we are actually working out. It seems then that we go through the uncomfortable, to reach a destination of beauty or good feeling. I think this is applicable to facing ourselves. In doing so, perhaps our pride is retrained to take pleasure in things we once felt beneath it. Admitting and owning our flaws become a boost to our ego. In learning to fight our need to be defensive, we allow others to argue for our humanity. Also it is less embarrassing when others point out our failings, to their surprise, we agree with them.

And yet ours is a social world and being liked is so significant that there are an overwhelming amount of books and articles written on how to make ourselves likable. It seems, however, that the more we learn to like ourselves, the less we seek the approval of others. But even when we seek to be liked, quality is the underlining factor. It is the people we admire, the sort we feel we can learn from, that we try to impress. This sort of impressing, we soon learn to be exciting. But we find that even when we fail to receive their favor, there is an honesty and a consciousness of why it hurts but without the bitterness. There is an acknowledgement reached through thoughtfulness that it is perhaps a loss but also that it can be a benediction. And when we win their friendship and remain as truthful to our own ideas of self rather than to anything that we think would please them or elevate their admiration of us, it is not displeasure we face from the right people and if it is, it is another chance to learn to stand up for our beliefs and who we want to be; and we do because we know our values.

Although I do not consider myself a pleaser, I still perform acts for the sole purpose of appearing likable. This is what I want to get rid of. It is what my thoughts circle around in my new aim to strengthen my own validation of myself. Of course, there are certain things we do for friends that inconveniences us, but it is of far grater value to our relationships. So though an inconvenience, it is not a bad, it is a good that is essential to a quality friendship. These responsibilities when performed arrest both the giver and taker in priceless feelings of warmth and strength. However, about the things we do a little too often just to appear amiable, though we boil inside, I want less to none of that. For instance, I will stop doing something I love and go to engage with someone who clearly have zero respect for my time and way of life just so they will think well of me. I have done this so many times, I am still trying to understand why. Not too long ago I missed a wonderful opportunity because I chose to give my time to someone who means nothing to me, and I mean even far less to. Guess what, they cancelled last minute and there was no one to blame but myself. But it was not a big enough lesson, I repeated the same stupidity quite recently. I gave up on a collaboration that could have benefited me and the person for whom I did this cancelled almost last minute in such an immature way. I was not angry with them, I became furious at myself. I must stop screwing up my own happiness for the sake of those who do not give a farting cow about me. I know I am always saying this and never actually anywhere near the doing of it. Ahhh I am in agony. :)

The lesson is that I am far better off risking the displeasure of those with whom by association I think less of myself by putting myself first rather than putting them before me and for that matter ending up miserable in mind and spirit. In truth, I think, one is better off being liked by the few than by the ton. In relationships, we put ourselves out there, and take from others but also give of ourselves. Though it would be enough to share our time and efforts with a few it would not be sufficient to do so with a ton; and any effort to give far too much will only result in self-destruction. It is why sweet and small companies grow to make more money and lose that which made them lovable in the first place: being personable.

Liking your self means that you are willing to say no to something that has zero value to your definition of worthiness. Liking you means you are willing to invest your efforts into becoming more of who you would rather be and less of what others expect of you; especially when their expectations are the opposite of what you desire to be. Liking you means you are not defensive of who you really are. You look it in the face and if it does not please, you make efforts to change or you stick to it. Liking you means that you learn to be okay with others dislike of you: the world is full of many individuals and several of us value different things. In our efforts to like ourselves, it seems rather essential to learn to not take it personal when someone cannot bring themselves to accept us. I have even come to learn to admire certain people who do not like me, or that I do not care for. I achieve this by trying to see things from their perspective.

Liking you means that you can laugh at yourself and learn to not get offended when others laugh at you, too. You learn to see why to them you appear a clown, but you already know how that "clownishness"  benefits you and why you would rather be laughed at, than becoming something taken very seriously. Liking you is learning to admit when you are wrong and going against your pride often. You learn that your pride is an emotion that needs to be let down in a series of life events and that it can be taught to take pleasure in other things. It is learning to become comfortable in being uncomfortable. In standing up for your ideals but being flexible enough to watch out for new ones and giving yourself the permission to change your mind about things that you were once a staunch believer in. Liking you is admitting to yourself your frailty, your vulnerability, your humanity. Liking you is not equal to practicing false modesty, you learn to take pleasure in your strengths and learn to develop them further. You know, therefore, that you are not always in control, that you will fall on your face often, that you will make a fool of yourself often, that you will take pleasure in things that you know better not to, that in certain things you are weak, and in certain things you have courage. Liking you is accepting that in very little time you too may be gifted the wrinkles, the gray, and with them pains in places you did not know existed, if you are not already there.  Liking you is a step necessary to loving you; though you are not perfect, in certain moments, you will feel your imperfections to be perfect. Liking you is understanding that life is not a stagnant destination but a journey of self-discoveries and lessons through the seasons awaiting death.



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