In middle school, Faylynn Moss said to me, “You just want everyone to like you.” She was right. It mattered to me. Of course she didn’t say it as an observation. She meant it as an insult. And it did hurt. I’ve always wanted people to be pleased with what I’m putting out.
Now that I’m in my 40s I’ve come to realize that it is not my responsibility to make everyone around me happy. I just don’t care if people like me as much as I used to. I’m not a grinch. But I am more selective.
That whole “do unto others as you’d have done to you” philosophy is really tricky. I find that I sometimes want to treat others the way they treat me. Which is way below my general friendly level. We’re talking about this a lot at home as one of my babes is in middle school. When he gets picked on, he’s tempted to dish it back. My husband and I tell him no. Our expectations of him are higher.
I learned in my thirties a very difficult-to-grasp lesson. We’re trying to teach it to our sons. It is helpful to remember in my forties:
If you don’t value the person, their output does not matter.
So, if kid X is a punk, and you wouldn’t want to have him over for dinner- ever- then him calling you a jerk is inconsequential. Kid X doesn’t have the power to shake you down for the entire day. He cannot get inside of your head, he’s not invited. Don’t give him that key.
I wish I could have learned that when I was young. But really, I valued everyone. At least I thought I should. Now I recognize, there just isn’t enough time in the day to please everyone. And by attempting to please everyone, my own personhood would suffer. So, instead, my relationships are by invitation only.