I have to preface this post by saying that I write this mainly about situations where someone’s dislike of me is unwarranted. There will definitely be some people out there who don’t like me for very good reasons. Maybe I offended them, or there was a misunderstanding that was never addressed. To those people, I’m sorry. And I deserve your dislike.
But with regard to the people whose dislike of me that I wasn’t deserving of… I apologise to myself for wasting my time and energy being preoccupied thinking about them. I would put this down to me inherently being a people pleaser and wanting to fit in. I couldn’t handle it if someone didn’t like me and I didn’t know why. My mind would race at a million miles an hour questioning myself, wondering why I wasn’t good enough to be liked by a particular person. I would go home and analyse everything that they did that was evidence of their dislike of me: the tone of their voice, the lack of acknowledgment, the way they talked to everyone except me… all these thoughts were so rampant that they occurred while I was showering, peeling carrots, lying in my bed.
Ugh. How exhausting. This happened throughout my life. School, university, work, social situations etc etc.
The most recent example of this occurred when I worked at the hospital and I noticed that certain colleagues didn’t talk to me, or were cold or difficult to make conversation with when they did talk to me. I noticed that when they were with other colleagues, they were the life of the party and seemed to show a side of them that I never experienced. (And before you attribute this to me being introverted or reserved, yes I am those things, but I am not that socially inept that I am incapable of making conversation). These interactions really did make me question myself. That is, until I spoke to my other colleagues about it who also happened to be Asian and who experienced exactly the same thing from the same people.
I was kind of shocked. I thought the days of racist microagressions were over. But clearly they weren’t. And I was naive to think otherwise. But even with this realisation, I still wanted those people to like me. I wasn’t exactly going to diminish myself or go out of my way to gain their approval. But what bothered me was that I wanted their approval in the first place, when they were obviously racist.
But now I have more self-respect. Or at least I like to think so. Time has allowed me to put myself first and in doing so I have gradually learned to like myself. I have realised that at the end of the day, all that actually matters is that I like myself. My whole Asian self. And while it’s nice for other people to like me, it’s not my main goal in life. Rather, people’s approval of me is a byproduct of me living in a way that allows me to like myself.
So now, if someone wants to let me know that they don’t like me, I welcome it. In fact, I celebrate it.
The way I see it, when someone doesn’t like you and somehow communicates this to you, they are just being honest about how they feel. Even if its unfounded because they’re racist, prejudice, sexist- as long as they don’t hurt you… then I kind of respect this level of honesty. Because I would rather be able to see someone at face value, and have them be authentic in their interactions with me (even if it means they tell me they think less of me because of the way I look or because of my ethnicity or whatever) than for them to pretend they like me and waste our energy engaging in superficial and unnecessary conversation.
So let’s reframe our rejection. Instead of feeling disappointment, let’s celebrate it. The people who reject us and dislike us don’t see how great we are. They remove themselves out of our lives so that we don’t have to go through the discomfort of removing them ourselves. And this leaves space for genuine connections with people who truly like us for who we are, people who we don’t have to prove ourselves to… and it also allows us to reflect on how we can be better people.