As I tried to chat with the woman sitting across the table her gaze slid away from mine. I scanned the rest of the women in the group only to realize that no one was talking to me. It suddenly occurred to me that the only person interacting with me at this shower was my friend, the bride-to-be.
Then it hit – they didn’t like me! It wasn’t that they disliked me, but they clearly didn’t like me.
So here I was in my worst nightmare. I remember the fear as far back as elementary school, the belief that if I’m not liked, if I’m rejected, then…what? The world would come to an end? Time would stop? I’m not sure what I believed would happen, but that jittering fear was always with me when I thought about social events.
So how did I feel, facing the rejection I’d feared for most of my life?
I was bored.
That’s all. No shrinking into my seat in humiliation, no fervent wishing I was a million miles away. I just realized that it was going to be a long afternoon.
And, as I thought about the group, I understood. Most of the women were suburban moms in their early thirties with kids in elementary school. And there I was, mid-fifties, divorced, with an adult daughter. I was just too different, I think I made them uncomfortable.
Once I realized that no one wanted to talk to me, I settled back in my chair and just let the activity wash around me. Most of the women there had been friends for years – they chatted about their kids, planned potlucks, talked about their husbands. It was pleasant, this murmur of friendship and sharing, even though it didn’t include me. I was an outsider, but it didn’t really matter because no one was paying any attention to me.
I ended up loving that shower, but not for the usual reasons. What I loved was how comfortable I felt even though I didn’t fit in. There was such ease in not loading up the experience with needs – the need for acceptance and approval, the need to be one of the gang. I’d carried the fear of not being liked with me all my life; what a delight it was to find that when the time came to face my fears, they simply vanished.
Copyright © 2010 From The Easy Place
9 thoughts on “It’s True – They Might Not Like You”
I loved this. I struggled for years with the fear of not being liked. There was a time when an uncomfortable bridal shower or group lunch would have me upset for days. As I’ve learned more about personality theories, especially MBTI/Keirsey, I’ve grown to appreciate the fact that we don’t all appeal to each other. And that’s okay, even kind of fascinating sometimes. Anyway, good for you for being able to enjoy the experience.
Thanks for your comment! Yeah, it’s gotten kind of interesting for me to pay attention when I’m not liked – is it me? Some kind of vibe I’m giving out? Or has the other person jumped to conclusions about who I am?
Once I got the fact that it’s all ok, and it’s not necessary to be liked by everyone, my social life became much easier 🙂
I am an infj and yes we are not usually easy to understand. Understanding my type has made it easier to see why I feel so alone in the world sometimes. Myers Briggs has also made it easier for me to identify the kindred spirits that I can connect with. Being liked by everyone is now not my priority but being authentic to myself is even if it means I will be lonely sometimes.
I think it’s awesome that you were able to come to this kind of acceptance! I don’t think I’ve reached that point that, though. I still take it personally if I’m among a group and not one person speaks a word to me. I start analyzing my behavior and feel a little resentful that I’m not more like them, when I know I really don’t want to be like them at all. Then I feel upset and turn to my boyfriend for support/advice, and he always reminds me that he’s had to go through the same thing all his life and that being different isn’t necessarily bad. I hope that one day I can adopt the same wise and mature outlook that you have on being an outsider.
Thanks for your lovely 10 steps and articles about INFJ! I used to feel the fear of being lonely, but I’ve realised that I have a few good friends, and I don’t have too many friends in my life. Quality over quantity! Happy belated new year and God bless! 🙂
That’s terrific, Mike, and I know exactly what you mean. I was forever comparing myself to people I thought of as “popular” but I wouldn’t trade my real friends for anyone else in the world! Happy (really belated) new year to you, too.
I’m discovering your blog and find it amazing ! I’m trying to stay calm and go to bed (11PM…) but I’m so excited about what you publish here … 🙂
Thank you so much, Muriel! I’m glad you find it helpful 🙂 Now get some sleep!!