“Don’t compromise yourself – you’re all you have.”
Yes, you heard me right, Dear Reader – I do not want you to like me!
That’s not why I’m here, not why I am doing what I do. It’s not why any of us are here, really. To be liked. Don’t get me wrong – I have a need for affirmation just like anyone does. But being liked is not the important thing. Being true to myself is.
There’s little to be gained in trying to be what other people want you to be; no real reward from doing what other people think you should do. Striving to be liked will probably get us friends, some benefits, maybe even a lot of good things – but we will be empty, worn out, thin. Like butter scraped over too much bread. If we choose that path, we will leave ourselves by the wayside and arrive as less than we were to begin with. Saint Augustine, 5th century Bishop of Hippo and Christian philosopher, once said “Attract them by the way you live.” That sentence holds a lot of truth for me. People will largely ignore what we say if our words do not match our actions. The way we live acts as an example for everyone we meet, for better or for worse – the people we want to be are largely irrelevant, except as a standard and a goal for ourselves. Other people rarely care about that, though.
Instead of striving to be liked, accepted, welcomed, I feel we should strive to be better versions of ourselves. We need to take others into account, of course – a society where everyone thinks only of themselves is doomed. No one likes a selfish bastard. We only have this lifetime to build our story and our reputation in the world – when we are gone from here, our actions and personality will live on in the memories of others. Or be forgotten by them.
I’m reminded suddenly of a poem by one of my favorite poets, Lord Byron – written in 1803 when he was only fifteen:
When, to their airy hall, my father’s voice
Shall call my spirit, joyful in their choice;
When, poised upon the gale, my form shall ride,
Or, dark in mist, descend the mountains side;
Oh! may my shade behold no sculptured urns,
To mark the spot where earth to earth returns!
No lengthen’d scroll, no praise-encumber’d stone;
My epitaph shall be my name alone:
If that with honour fail to crown my clay,
Oh! may no other fame my deeds repay!
That, only that, shall single out the spot;
By that remember’d, or with that forgot.
I will not strive to be liked – instead, I will strive to be the best Me that I can (and probably fail by far in reaching that ideal – I’m only human, after all). I will try to let my actions and my work speak for me and give testament to the kind of person I am. Show, don’t tell, as the old writer’s adage says.
I do not want you to like me, but I hope you will. More importantly I hope you will like what I do. Or that I will at least affect you in a positive way.
- Read – Don Juan; Lord Byron
- Watch – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty; Ben Stiller
- Listen – Do What You Do; Martina McBride