I want everyone to like me. No, it’s way worse than that. Everyone has to like me. This is ridiculous, I know. Not everyone can possibly like you, I’m told. You can’t please everybody, I’m warned. You will run into people who just don’t find you agreeable, I’m admonished. And yet I believe I can reach the unattainable goal of 100% participation in Operation: Liking Heidi.
I know where this stems from, of course. Hyper-critical parent, young, braided, German-American child who would do anything to pacify her, repeat. And repeat. Repeat when you go away to college. Repeat while you are a poor waitress living alone with your cat. Repeat after you meet your best friend and partner for life and move to another state. Repeat until you are fifty-five years old and this parent has been gone nearly a year. Repeat until you are emotionally depleted and in chronic pain but just cannot stop.
Like a piece of boardwalk taffy I stretched the notion that everyone has to like me into adulthood, honestly believing that I could appease everyone all the time. Surely this is an impossible task. And yet I persist, my boat against the tide, still believing, still trying.
Someday I will come to the realization that it’s okay to not have 100% participation in this endeavor. Someday I will meet someone who disagrees with me and I won’t back down. Someday I will set boundaries for what I will and will not tolerate from people and defend those borders with the fire power of my authentic self. Someday. But not yet. No, not just yet. I’ve got to back out of this slowly, perhaps disappointing someone and not falling apart. Perhaps I’ll start small, maybe by not petting Casey every time she meows at me for three seconds of attention. Then I will gradually work my way up to people. And one fine day, there will be a sub-population of humans who do not like me, and I’ll be okay with that.
But for now, it seems I am unable to resist the pull of this desire to be universally liked. I am working on it, though. It’s just way more difficult than I ever imagined. Oh, and by the way, if you don’t like me, let’s find a way we can change that, okay?