It’s Okay if You Don’t Like Me


I often confess to being a people pleaser.

It recently occurred to me this may not be entirely true. I’m not actually a people pleaser, what I really want is for everyone to like me, even if (more like when) I am not pleasing or compliant. This is the most honest truth: I want people to like me, to think I’m smart, funny, edgy, intelligent, talented and insightful. I want you to walk away thinking, Man, I really like that Dana. We should hang out more often.

I also wrestle with my ego. Not that you’d notice.

This desire is a crazy obsession entirely based in unreality. I barely meet a single one of those descriptions on my best day. It’s a selfish desire which never makes room for someone to shine brighter or sing better or be more interesting than I am in any given environment. It’s ridiculous because it means I am forever contorting my personality, my actions and my conversation to bend in the most unnatural ways to meet these self-imposed expectations.

The desire to be liked is a very real idol. For years it’s inhabited the dark spaces of my consciousness telling me I’m not enough or I can do better or can’t I just change in ways that would make people so much happier? My insidious ego demands things no one else expects and even though his message is so old it smells, it’s still sometimes the loudest voice in my head.

But lately, there’s another bold, beautiful voice making herself heard. I think she’s been there all along, but trauma and fear muffled her and locked her in a closet. She’s breaking free though, I can feel her welling up and bursting out in audacious song:

It’s OK that not everyone likes you. In fact, it’s better if they don’t.

You might think a grown woman would already have this figured out, and honestly I hope you are sitting there scratching your head wondering how it took so long for me to get here. Good for you! I say. You’re probably much happier than I have been. Here I am knocking on the door of forty-three and just now figuring out: I don’t have to care to if you like me or not.

As a grown, Christian woman, there are certain behaviors and characteristics I need to exhibit. I strive to be kind and patient. I have responsibilities, and a certain level of maturity to maintain. I want my yes to be yes and my no to be no. I want to be a person of good character and integrity, a loving person who invests in the communities around me. I want to laugh often and have meaningful conversations.

At the same time, I have deep, driving passions making themselves known in my opinions, beliefs and choices. I need to live in ways which are consistent with my faith and my convictions. We all relate to and interact with the world from our unique individuality and nothing we do will ever align us perfectly with another person, organization or institution. Apparently, God in His creativity is unable to create a planet of compatible clones.

So here we all are, an imperfect people living together in a fallen world. Even if I could do all things perfectly – an event which has yet to occur – there are still people who won’t like me, each one for entirely different reasons. Who can say precisely why some personalities never gel, why some people seem to rub us the wrong way no matter what we or they do. If we are going to be true to ourselves – heart, mind and soul – people won’t like us no matter how much we may want them to.

You don’t have to like me.

In fact, it’s better that way. A world full of yes men is a dull world which never changes, has no impetus to move forward, improve, excel or imagine. A conformed community lacks inspiration and vision. And let’s be honest, the whole planet would be incredibly dull.

It’s the ways we rub up against each other, causing friction and discomfort that encourage introspection, self-examination and change. Opposition ignites cooperation and understanding. It’s the balance between being too compliant and too set in our ways which keeps us both humble and true.

It’s OK if you don’t like me. I’ll never embrace the knowledge with unquestioning acceptance, but I also won’t allow it to be a problem which keeps me awake at night. It’s a big world, there’s plenty of people who like us to go around.

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"It's okay if you don't like me": There’s a bold, beautiful voice making herself heard in my heart. I think she’s been there all along, but trauma and fear muffled her and locked her in a closet. She’s breaking free though, and I can feel her welling up and bursting out in audacious song:

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Dana Portwood
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Dana Portwood

Dana is a writer, book-a-holic, lover of dogs, tattoo addict, wanna be beach bum, hair color-er, a survivor of cancer, over the moon about being 40, and a sold out minimalist. She's madly in love with her husband of twenty years and crazy about (or maybe just crazy) raising three teenage daughters.She believes in the power of Love, the miracle of grace, and the strength of community.
Dana Portwood
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