Dear Journal: Love Me

love-meDear Journal,

Honestly, I don’t know why I spend so much time thinking about what other people think of me. A long time ago I tried telling myself I didn’t care, but it became such a flimsy lie that one day I just stopped saying it altogether. Because, yeah, I do care, and I care a lot. A friend of mind once told me that if someone said they didn’t like me I would try my best to figure out why and CHANGE MYSELF TO FIT WHAT THEY WANTED ME TO BE. I laughed at her comment, but she wasn’t laughing with me. She was serious. And the worst thing about it was that I knew she was right, because I’ve done precisely that more times than I’d care to admit.

When I first started keeping a journal pretty much every entry was about someone else and their impressions of me:

  • “I don’t know why the boys down the street won’t let me play with them.”
  • “I told Sheniqua I liked her. Why hasn’t she responded yet?”
  • “I think I would have more friends if I did cooler stuff.”
  • “My sister told the other campers she doesn’t know me. What did I do wrong?”
  • “Jimmy played Super Mario Brothers with me. I hope that means we’re best friends now.”

And it didn’t stop after I stopped being a kid either, Journal. That guy who frowned at me when I said good morning to him today, was he judging me, or is that just his attitude all the time to anyone? The “friend” of a “friend” who liked my Facebook post because it got shared on her Timeline, did she think I was the wittiest person ever for coming up with it in the first place? The host from Dancing With the Stars favorited my tweet. Are we going to be best buddies now?

6a00d8341c630a53ef00e552428e718834-800wiI know it’s all stupid, too. Don’t think I don’t know that. Some people will like me, some people won’t, and still more will be entirely ambivalent toward me. I can’t change any of that probably 80% of the time, so why do I spend so much time dwelling on it? Why do I still keep track of how many people “liked” one of my posts, as if that means they like me.

And I can analyze it with the best of them, why we feel the need for acceptance from others, why we constantly ask them to LOVE US, as if they really can flip that switch just because we will it so. When we know they can’t. When we know that’s not the way the world works. When we should simply appreciate those people who do love us, and who show us every day that they do. It’s easy to do, when we take the blinders off long enough to see that, to ACCEPT that instead of trying to get accepted by those who may never accept us.

It’s what I think about myself that matters most, right? I need to accept myself, to appreciate myself for who I am, to own up to my faults and focus on improving them, but not for others. FOR ME. That’s when it will really click in and I won’t stop worrying so much about what others think, whether or not they appreciate me, because I will appreciate me all the time. I read a saying once about first learning to love yourself before you can expect others to love you, and while I disagree with it fundamentally I do like what it implies. We need to appreciate why others love us, which should help us appreciate and love ourselves.

Or something like that. I’ve still got a long way to go, but thankfully I have a loving family, and loving friends who don’t mind reminding me when I start obsessing over what other people think.

Sam

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