Not Being Liked is Okay
When you spend most of your life trying to find belonging, it can be such a challenge to stand on your own validation.
Alex Elle photographed by Erika Layne
The older I get, the less I feel the need to be liked, and I am grateful for that. Over the years, I've learned how to hold and see myself in the ways I wanted others to. When you spend most of your life trying to find belonging, it can be such a challenge to stand on your own validation. Not only can it be hard, but it's scary to trust the journey to and through self-love. I used to put so much weight on being liked that I learned early on how to perform "likeability." People pleasing and stepping outside my true nature and self to be liked kept me stuck in extremely harmful patterns. I'd grown so accustomed to not being myself that I started forgetting what I liked, wanted, needed, and so on. Deprogramming this way of moving through the world felt like a massive undertaking. Who would I be if I wasn't who people expected and accepted? I wasn't quite sure of that answer, but I did trust that I would become more myself if I put down the pressure to be liked, received, and welcomed.
I've learned in therapy that my need to be liked originated from not feeling safe, loved, or seen in childhood. There were so many people in my life who I felt let me down that I began to try any and everything under the sun to get attention, even if it was negative. This eventually left me attracted to the wrong types of folks and completely disconnected from my true self. I will never forget my therapist asking me, Where did you learn to abandon yourself? That question sticks with me, and I'm glad it does—because whenever I am not standing in alignment with my truth, I come back to it.
The greatest lesson I've learned over the years is that shrinking myself to be deemed worthy in someone else's eyes cannot be an option. It will stunt my growth and keep me small. Self-abandonment is not an act of solidarity or love. I am no longer wearing it as a badge of honor. I've worked too hard to get to a place of inner peace to go back to people-pleasing. Standing in my power means showing up in all spaces as my authentic self, even if I'm not well-received or accepted. Being in a more easeful place in life, I've learned to take my power back and never let it go. Knowing who I am, trusting myself, and being self-aware enough to realize that I'm slipping backward is where I continue to uncover my truth. I value my healing and emotional transformation too much to make myself small and digestible. I am grateful that I put less emphasis on other people liking me and more energy on liking myself.
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