“Not one drop of my self-worth depends on your acceptance of me” Quincy Jones
The day I realized that no matter what you do, there will be people who just don’t like you was the day that I set myself free. Prior to that faithful day I was the pleaser. Always wanting everyone to like me and invite me and include me and feeling personally slighted when it didn’t happen. “Why wasn’t I invited?” What did I do wrong?” “How could I have been nicer?“ These questions would swim around my head like angry Piranha gnawing at my brain for days, weeks and sometimes months. I was a hopeless people pleaser and couple that with a mild manner and fear of speaking up and you get an easy target.
I remember the day that all changed well. It was a sunny day and I had on my High School uniform: Blue plaid skirt, crisp white shirt, navy blue socks and black penny loafers; all regulation at the old, all girl private catholic school on the hill. My hair was straightened and blew in the warm breeze. After school I would go the long way to my mother’s hair salon, pass the area guaranteed to have the most boys who looked like me. I was an anomaly at school, one of two Afro-Caribbean girls in a grade level comprising of 3 classes. Was it a coincidence that we were placed in the same class? That fact really didn’t matter because I was alone in the expression of our culture. AS soon as the bell rang I was on the train headed to the part of town none of my school mates would dare venture into. Looking back now through mature eyes and life’s wisdom; I realize that I was an anomaly there too. I couldn’t see it then as I desperately sought acceptance and approval. I wanted to belong. I wanted everyone to like me. I needed to fit in…somewhere. So I did all I could to get others to realize that I was nice/kind/loving/friendly/loyal. And if they didn’t “get it” at first I would just try harder. Make them realize how great I am. Yet, that faithful day as I walked along the cracked sidewalk, pondering God-knows-what I had a moment that Oprah would later coin as “an AHA.” I realized that some boys just wouldn’t like me. Maybe I didn’t fall for them. Sleep with them. Give them something that they wanted. I realized that some girls just wouldn’t like me either. Maybe I had a big bum. Maybe I had hair that was too long. Maybe their boyfriends looked at me in that certain way. It had nothing to do with me.
That faithful day the light bulb went on and I realized that since I can’t please everyone and make them all like me, I may as well stop trying and please myself. Some will, some won’t, so what. I decided to enjoy the company of those who wanted to be around me and wish the others well on their journey. Empowerment was earned that day, as I walked along the crack riddled sidewalk, hair blowing in the wind with a smile on my face.
I thought you should know.