You know something, I was sitting here today wondering why someone had replied to all the comments on their thread and not me and it occurred to me, I still hate it when people don’t like me. I still love for people to love me and will go out of my way to make them change their mind. Well, sometimes.
And don’t even get me started on what sort of overdrive I go into if I find out I’ve been blocked or unfollowed by someone I thought was my friend. Someone I thought I could trust but couldn’t. Someone who lied and somehow it still feels wrong to me that they don’t like me.
Hold on Suger, why do you even care, right?
Well. There’s something in me that is driven to secure the approval of others. Do you ever get that? Something that makes me want them to think I’m the best thing since sliced bread. It’s a needy quality but one that I have to continuously keep in check. Yes, keep in check.
When I was a child my Dad and I would talk in the car as he drove me here or there. He would share the things he learnt, the dreams he had for us all, the wishes he had made as a father to my siblings and I. I felt the pressure to perform because of those chats. I made a lot of choices based on what I thought my father wanted me to do. I wanted him to be proud, to love me for doing all the right things and being a good daughter.
It was years later, over a decade actually, and those conversations had become something I resented for trapping me into a very serious, unsatisfying life. So much so that I spoke to my Dad about it. About his expectations and how I know I haven’t always lived up to them but I am happy so that has to be enough for him. I was almost in tears. I was being brave. Declaring myself an adult standing on her own two feet.
He smiled and said that he didn’t know what I was talking about. That he was always proud. The he always loved me. That he had tried to stand back and let me make my decisions even though he could see that they were making me unhappy. He said he knew I was ok now. That he never meant for that to be pressure and that I needed to be responsible for the way I had seen things too because it was time to let it go and move on.
That day I was free from the constraints of doing the right thing to please my parents. Those old conversations came back to me and I could value them in a way I never had before. Looking at my Dad and the bemused expression on his face as I poured out my poor heart, wanting for acceptance has never left me. I try to remember that face when I find myself aiming to please. Needy for love and affection.
It’s a dangerous thing the need to be loved. Dangerous because you can sacrifice your entire self to it if you aren’t careful. I know this now but I cannot count the number of times in my life where I have made decisions that haven’t served me to make someone else happy, to make them like me more.
As I grew up it happened less and less. I saw with blinding clarity exactly what I was doing. So I stopped doing it whenever I noticed that it was happening again. It doesn’t mean that sometimes I’m not half way into a conversation and I think ‘wait, hold on, what’s going on here’. I’m still learning myself. Learning what drives me.
Learning that what others think of me is none of my business. Not really. Not in the end. Stopping myself from making decisions based on what I think other people want of me. Having the space in my own head to just say “oi, what do YOU want”. Part of growing up for me. Part of getting out of my own way and living a life that I LOVE.