I am someone who has this overwhelming need to please people. And I feel that the reason I need to please people is because I have always just wanted to fit in. I have always wanted to feel a part of a group, to feel like I belong somewhere. I will freely admit that I am an awkward person and I can find talking to people hard. Before I meet up with people I think of a whole heap of subjects to talk about because I don’t like silence, and will often go from quiet to “will you shut the fuck up” in 10 seconds. I have never been able to find a way to fit in with people, so I tend to go out of my way to do things, in the hopes that they like me.
Unfortunately, I have learned the hard way that pleasing people does not guarantee you a place in a group. I’d like to use an example of back when I was 18 and I was doing a beauty therapy course. I got along with the girls there but I was on the outside. They didn’t ask me to hang out with them, but we were always chummy when we were actually doing the course. I desperately wanted to fit in. Getting along with girls is something that I have never been great with, because I feel like despite the fact that I am one, I have never had the same ambitions or feelings as other girls.
So, young Steff, wanting to be liked, heard that the group of girls are going to go out on the town because they just turned 18 and “it’ll be so fun”. They come over to me, and I’m thinking “they are going to ask me to hang out with them!!”. I have never ever, been more wrong. They come over and say “Hey Steff, a few of us are going out on the weekend, we’re wanting to take [girl’s name] out because she just turned 18” and I’m like “ok sweet!”, they continue on “[girl’s name] looks a lot like you, would you mind if she borrowed your ID because she doesn’t have an 18+ card yet so can’t get in yet”.
Now, I think most people would be like “what the fuck, no” because it’s insulting to be asked to contribute towards something that everyone else has been invited to but you haven’t. But because I wanted to be liked and thought that doing this might make them actually consider including me in their little friendship circle I said “Sure! No worries!!”. I smiled and laughed about it because that’s what everyone else was doing. It was so funny that we looked alike and my ID would pass as [girl’s name]. Meanwhile on the inside, I was dying. I felt like crying and I felt absolutely miserable. Why wouldn’t they invite me? Am I not fun enough? I questioned myself a thousand times. I went home and I cried, and I ran every scenario through my head of where I was being a “friend” to these girls yet they just couldn’t seem to accept me.
Lending the ID to the girl really inconvenienced me too. I couldn’t go out or buy alcohol. I actually had to stay at home when other people went out because I didn’t have my ID. A few weeks after I leant it to the girl I asked for it back, and it still took a while after that to get it back. I got a small “thank you” but that was it. No big deal to them, because I think they knew that I wouldn’t say anything about it and I would just suck it up.
I could give you a thousand more examples of where I have done stuff like this. I give things away, because I want to be kind. I message people and check in to see how they are going, and I am here if they need me. I give a lot of myself and tend to not get anything in return. Because I’m just Steff. Reliable. Always there. Never angry. I turned myself in to a doormat at the expense of wanting to be liked. Of wanting to fit in.
And I wonder if the reason why I don’t fit in is because I do give too much of myself. People don’t have to work hard with me, because I’ve offered everything up. And if they don’t make an effort in return they know that it doesn’t impact anything, because I will forgive them. They know that if they don’t ask how I am doing, that I will eventually message them and they can then respond by asking how I am, therefore making it look like they are making some sort of effort. Wanting to be liked is exhausting and a constant mind-fuck. Social media has only added to that, because it’s clique-y. How you are deemed to be a ‘part’ of the group…I still have no idea. I don’t know what makes one person more relevant than another.
Now to be honest, it’s not all doom and gloom. I am extremely lucky to have a few very real, very genuine friends in my life. They have stuck with me through thick and thin and I know, I know that they are forever friendships. I have a husband and sisters who are my life, who constantly remind me that I don’t need to be anything other than myself because they love me through the good and bad days, whether I say yes or no. It probably seems very conceited to complain about people not liking me, but it’s the human condition isn’t it? It goes back to when we were cavemen and needed to be in groups to survive. It is do deeply ingrained that it can be hard to let go.
For those of you who have read my words and have stuck with me this far, thank you. If what I have said resonates with you, please know that you are not alone. If I can give any piece of advice, I say this. Stop trying to please people who don’t care. Don’t give yourself freely to people who don’t appreciate it or understand what it costs you. Focus on those that are in front of you and appreciate them for what they also offer to you. Make friends, but set limits. If you are constantly following up with them and they don’t reciprocate it is time to move on. Cut your losses and try not to take it personally. Be yourself, unapologetically.
I am still learning how to take my advice, and it might take me the rest of my life. But one thing I have taught myself is that it is OK to not fit in, and that I don’t constantly need to try and please people. I say no to things now, when I used to always say yes, and believe it or not it is quite liberating. But I think a part of me will always be that 18 year old beauty therapy student, ready to lend my ID to someone so that they like me.
I leave you with this quote, by Bernard Baruch:
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”