So here’s the thing about me: I really don’t care if you like me. I actually really and truly don’t.
It’s not that I don’t want you to like to me. I actually want to be liked. I want you to think I’m friendly and helpful and funny and occasionally smart and mostly honest and authentically real as much as I can possibly be.
But if you don’t think any of those things? Oh farking well.
As my pal Sarah stated in her recent blog post, she’s having a hard time figuring out how can I be like this. So now I shall reveal to her and to all of you exactly how I can pull off all of this delicious disregard for everyone who’s not me.
The big secret
I just decided to stop caring.
I guess it was a few years ago … probably around the time my marriage side-skidded into the front gates of that silly theme park called DivorceLand. By the time I pulled myself out of the smoking remains of the family truckster, made sure the kids were OK and dusted everyone off, I didn’t really care so much that a crowd of gawping rubberneckers had pulled over to assess the damage … and, of course, to offer posthumous theories on what had lead to the demise of my family unit.
“Pssst … hey, kids … while they’re all out here going through the glove compartment, lets go sneak into the park and ride some rides. No lines!”
Hitting bottom in front of your whole world leads to a certain lack of humility.
It’s kind of like when you’re in labor and random people keep coming into the hospital room to check on your vagina. You just want it to be over so you’ll gladly show your snatch to the janitor if it will help move things along.
And we’ll have fun, fun, fun
Here’s something I learned from all that: Not caring about what other people think is SO MUCH FUN.
I think I actually stumbled onto this realization in my late teens one day when I was at the library. I was in college at the time and I was taking a class on human sexuality. I’d collected some books on STDs (yes, we used to use actual books for research … don’t pretend like you don’t know) and I started up to the checkout counter. Who was behind the desk that day, but the very conservative, very proper mother of a girl I used to be good friends with in my preteen days … I was a nervous wreck every time I went to their house. I thought about ditching the books and coming back later, but what a pain the butt. So I decided to go through with it. I went up to the counter and chatted it up with the woman, asked about her daughter, her mother, blah, blah, blah … and watched her eyes get bigger and bigger as she scanned my books.
Then I went out to my car and had a good laugh.
So now I think of that little scenario sometimes when I realize someone is not diggin’ me. I mean, we all have those people don’t we? Those people whom …(wait … is it who or whom? … I should probably look this up …)
… are clearly only tolerating us out of politeness. Like, sure, they’ll barge into our hospital rooms and take a look at our vaginas, but they are committed to not liking what they see.
I’m in love with your vagina
So that’s when it’s important to be in love with your own vagina.
I mean your own self. (And your vagina is part of yourself, so just go ahead and love that, too. Unless you’re a man. This whole metaphor is falling apart, isn’t it? Moving on …)
Let’s consider this further: Do you like everyone you know? Of course not. In fact, you probably get a little bit of secret joy out of thinking certain people are absolutely ridiculous.
Then do the math, genius. Sometimes it’s going to be you. And that’s OK. We all have to take our turn at not being liked.
Am I totally perfect at this? No, not all the time. Every now and then I get a 30-second pang of “OMG. So-and-so must think I’m a total douchebag!”
And then I have to remember … that I am, in fact, not a douchebag. And I’m not likely to turn into one just because so-and-so may or may not think that.
Plus, let’s be honest, the more you try to make people like you, the more you come off like a tool.
Don’t be Applebees
Let’s think about the restaurant Applebees. It’s so completely agreeably bland that everyone fucking hates it. (Really. What the crap is up with Applebees? And now that I’ve said this I’ll feel bad every time I hear about an Applebees closing because I’ll feel like it’s my fault because I apparently have an inflated sense of self worth. But I’ve actually never heard of an Applebees closing because people still go there even though no one on this planet thinks it’s a good restaurant … I mean, my kids got coupons for free kids’ meals for Applebees and I was like, “Dudes, I’d rather cook and hear you complain about it than use these coupons.”)
My point is this: If you try to be everyone’s cuppa tea, you’re likely to wind up being no one’s cuppa tea.
There are people who won’t understand you. There are people who are invested in thinking you’re a moron, for whatever reason. There are people who will take great pleasure in looking for stuff you do wrong.
You will not change these people. Write them off because there are plenty of other people who WILL like you.
Also, keep in mind that this gets so much easier with age. I’m 42. It gets a little easier to care less every year. By the time I’m 60, I hope to be just like Shirley Maclaine’s character in Steel Magnolias. By the time I’m 80, I hope I’ll just take a whizz in your shrubbery if the mood strikes. Whatever.
Practice makes perfect
As with any new skill, practice is important. I suggest you try practicing not being liked.
Go get yerself the equivalent of some chlamydia books and check ’em outta someone’s library. Or go to a party with a frozen Pepperidge Farm brick of a cake and insist that you made it yourself. (Take it outta the box first. I hope I don’t have to say that part.) Then stand there and feel the dislike … and then go home and notice that absolutely nothing in your world has changed because of it.
Just remember, no one is universally liked. You can’t be all things to all people. Have an opinion. Have a stance. Have an attitude. Go forth and make some waves, bitches. Don’t forget to go out to your car and have a good laugh with yourself afterward.
If you need me I’ll be out front, watering your bushes.