I don’t care if you like me or not.
It took me 40+ years to be able to say that or think it, but once I came to that conclusion, it opened up a whole new world for me.
Up until my 40s, I think the most rebellious thing I did in my life was come out of the womb late….and maybe get a D on a test.
I’ve spent the majority of my life as a people pleaser. Like many people pleasers, I held on to the belief that if I did everything everyone wanted of me then they would like me or love me. Doing everything everyone wanted often meant getting good grades, never coloring outside the lines, always being on my best behavior, using my inside voice, keeping still, keeping active, keeping quiet, dressing a certain way, acting a certain way, looking a certain way.
Acting up was never in my vocabulary. Neither was talking out of turn our speaking up for myself. I was more conflict averse than Switzerland.
Throughout my life, though, I found that no matter how much I did to be pleasing or appealing to other people, it still didn’t change what they thought of me or how they treated me.
You can only be so accommodating to people or do so much for them before they start to take advantage of you. What’s worse, you become so exhausted that you become a shell of your former self.
That’s where I was in my mid-30s. I was Shell Erin.
40 is the new IDGAF
When I was younger and I would hear people say that their 40s were when you started to not care what other people thought of you, my people-pleasing self called BS.
Then I got into my 40s and realized all of that anecdotal advice I’d heard to stop caring what people thought was true. Granted, my not caring may have gotten a little extra and developed into what I affectionally refer to as ZFG, or Zero F*cks Given, but I digress…
I like to think it was a culmination of things that transpired around when I turned 40 that led to my ZFG/IDGAF confidence:
- I’d trained hard to reach and realize a badass goal
- I’d bought my own car, with nary a man or another adult around to assist me
- I lived on my own and on my own terms
- I’d survived a major health crisis
- I’d travelled alone to foreign countries
- I’d also survived a pretty catastrophic trauma in my romantic life
All of those things I went through were hard. Don’t get me wrong. I had supportive family and friends, but what finally clicked for me was that I’d survived each thing that happened. I built confidence in myself to handle what might happen next.
And therein lies the root of not caring what people think of you or whether they like you or not: Confidence
Like I said in Why We Need to Encourage More Female Badasses, you can’t order or buy confidence. Sure, you can buy a great outfit, drive an awesome car, or live in a gorgeous house, but that’s all decoration.
Confidence is all on you — and within you.
Liked and Likability
One of my favorite quotes is from Rikkie Gale and it sums up the transformation of going from people-pleaser to IDGAF’er:
I used to walk into a room full of people and wonder if they liked me… now I look around and wonder if I like them.
As I tried to figure out what non-Shell Erin was going to evolve into, I stumbled quite often in between people-pleasing weak Erin and boundary-setting assertive Erin. I’d say 85% of me is Assertive Erin now, but the remaining 15% still gets anxiety when setting a strong boundary with someone. To this day, at work in particular, I struggle with finding the balance between sounding kind and sounding assertive. The same could be said for my romantic life too.
I used to worry that people wouldn’t like me if I stood up for myself or if I set a boundary. I used to think that if I just did one more thing to look caring, then people would adore me and love me. The reality is a lot of people struggle to love themselves, so loving me isn’t even on their radar. No matter at work or love, in my family or around my friends, if you haven’t figured out how to love yourself — or even like yourself — then I prefer not to have you around me.
What’s ironic about my not caring what people think of me, my life choices, or whether they like me or not is that I’m really a sensitive soul with a good heart and someone who has kindness and empathy coming out of my pores. In other words, more often than not, I care about you, but what what you think about me is on you…and only you.
And that’s what it all boils down to for everyone: if you’re a good human, what people think of you is on them, not you.
Who’s with me to care less about what people think about them? Who else doesn’t care if they’re liked or not?