I’ve always been a little more of an introvert than an extrovert. I wait to get a feel for a new person or new situation before I jump in and speak up. I’m also friendly and kind and have spent the majority of my life being well-liked by the people around me. I had some self-esteem issues in high school but they slowly got better. I was growing in confidence; feeling good about myself. I was certain of who I was as a person.
Then I made a choice that resulted with me living in a very different place around people who were different from what I’d grown up around. But very few were accepting of our differences. Little by little I felt my confidence being pecked at. Small hits and jabs piled up of people making me feel stupid (even though I wasn’t) and making me question what I thought I knew about myself.
I did my best to change so I could fit in. I learned not to talk about the nice things I liked because then someone would think I was a snob. I learned to do things however the person standing there thought was best because if I didn’t then they’d think I thought I was better than everyone else. I even changed the way I talked so that people wouldn’t be offended by my large vocabulary. I kept the things they didn’t like about me on the down-low and tried to make a bigger deal about the things that seemed to matter: what connections I had to “being country”.
Doing everything I thought would win them over didn’t work. Its upsetting to try so hard to please people who are impossible to please.
I don’t know who said it but there’s a quote that says I’d rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I’m not. Thing is, I wasn’t even loved for who I wasn’t. So what was the point of trying anymore?
I’ve stopped trying. I’m bringing back the me I used to be but with even more confidence than I had before. I’m even more sure of myself and the person I want to be. And the things in life I will and will not accept.
I’ve had a friendship the last several years that I’d say I held onto like a toddler does a safety blanket. It was a roller-coaster of support and negativity. If a relationship can have a personality I’d say this one had a split-personality disorder. I got to a point not long ago where I realized that it wasn’t working anymore. But I was so afraid to break it up. Scared that since I hadn’t had much luck making friends that lived here that I’d end up friendless forever afterwards.
It all felt like it happened in a flash and not how I wanted it to (more on that in another post), but suddenly it was ending. We had a friendship breakup.
And I didn’t remain alone. I let go of one friendship and new ones stepped up to the plate. I’m now creating a network of people in my life that aren’t anything like the people who brought me down before. I’m searching out people who are more like me. People that want to put support, kindness, and respect into a healthy relationship.
I think reading the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook (which I’ve written several previous posts on) was the nudge I needed to make this transformation. One of the tools it gave me was really realizing how much I needed to love and accept myself first. How much hiding “me” to please others wasn’t helping anyone and hurting me most of all.
I guess you could say that it’s been a practice of self-compassion and self-acceptance that has brought this all about. It’s a great place to be. A happy place to be. I can only hope that others can find this same peace and understanding with themselves.