You might not be that likeable. And why that’s actually a good thing
This is the fifth article in a series about how I went from an overworked and overstressed big city woman to a relaxed hill country ditto.
In my previous articles, I told you how my husband and I took on a monumental life changing decision. We set out a goal of achieving financial freedom and tone down the frenetic tempo we ran our lives by. That meant selling our beautiful house in the suburbs and moving to the outback of Sweden.
Crash and Burn
After I crashed and burned I realized my way of living wasn’t sustainable. Long hours of starring into the wall made me understand that it was about time to clarify what I wanted out of life.
I always thought that when I became a grownup – I magically would know what life was all about. However; as most of you who are over forty knows; this never happens.
Also starring into a wall revealed something else to me; apparently, I wasn’t all that likeable.
No more Big Pretender
My ranking on the scale of likeability became clear when I had been on sick leave for a while; my phone simply stopped ringing. Friends and colleagues stopped calling and texting. I was surrounded by a silence that talked very loudly.
To be honest with you I kind of expected to receive loads of phone calls from people wishing me well and hoping I would get better soon. But no one called. Not a single text message popped in on my phone. It was all silence.
It was around this time it dawned on me that most of my friends actually was colleagues. That I did not really have a life outside work. My colleagues were the people I spent most time with.
After some grief and tears I realized that this was actually a big relief; from now on I could stop pretending to be nice and just be myself.
Toss away the Self-Help books
I could stop pretending to be someone that I was not. Why bother since apparently result was that people didn’t like me anyway? For so long I have tried to be someone else to make people like me. I have read gazillions of books about ‘How to make friends’, ‘How to be a good listener’, ‘How to improve your impact’ etc. etc. But that apparently had not worked since so few people around me cared enough to give me a call or reaching out. I really thought we were more than colleagues. I thought we were friends. I guess I was wrong.
Basically, this meant I could just toss away all the Self-Help books, relax and just be me.
From now on I will stop being so damn nice and helpful.
It’s all up to me
This is when I realized that no one was coming to save me. No one would pop up at the door and offer me my dream job, to publish my unwritten book or just to celebrate how fabulous I am.
It is up to me; actually, it has always been and will always be up to me. Sitting there on the couch feeling lost in a desert I would never feel inspired or be clear headed enough to seize a moment. But at some point I realized that I had to force myself to get up and take action. Nothingwas going to change unless I made it change.
From now on it’s my way
The relief was indescribable. All my life I had tried to be nice, polite and friendly – apparently it didn’t pay off at all.
Well then, I can just as well stop it and just me myself: Rude. Selfish. Inconsiderate. Impolite. The result will probably be the same.
I do not have to be someone that I am not. I can speak my mind and tell the truth. I tried the nice way. That did not really make me friends who stood by me during hard times.
Now I will do it my way.
In the eyes of the others
Gilly Macmillian has put these thoughts into writing:
In the eyes of others, we are often not who we imagine ourselves to be. When we first meet someone we can put our best foot forward and give the very best account of ourselves but still get it horribly wrong: The question is: If we are not who we imagine we are, then is anybody else? If there is so much potential for others to judge us wrongly, then how can we be sure that our assessment of them in any way resembles the real person that lies underneath?
3 things you can learn from me
Just be yourself
I tried so hard to be accepted. Now I know that I got it all backwards. If I am myself and people don’t like me – it falls on them. If I am a big pretender and putting up appearances and then people don’t like me – it falls back on me.
Get of your butt and take action
Don’t just wish for things to get better and then go and make yourself a sandwich. That’s not taking action. And you know it!
I know this sounds like the biggest cliché but it’s actually true. I still struggle with self-doubt, angst and controlling that shitty voice inside my head. But I make progress. It might be just baby steps – but I am getting there.
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