My mother is brilliant. Beyond brilliant really. In fact, many would call her wise. She is just like the countless mother’s who give advice such as, “Don’t chew with your mouth open”, “Don’t talk to strangers” and the classic Cinderella line “Have Courage and Be Kind”, she’s said it all! While all this “advice” is great, there is one sliver of wisdom that has totally revolutionized how I interact and love on other people.
Before I tell you what it is, you need to know something about me. I’m crazy. Yes I am. I overthink everything. EVERYTHING! I feel like I need to say the perfect thing, look perfect, be perfect! Oh yhea. I’m also a perfectionist. You know those moments when you wish you could have changed something you said? Normal people move on. I think about something dumb I’ve said for years! For example, the very first day I met my fourth grade teacher, Mr. Clark (named changed for privacy) I was super excited! I had already planned what I was going to say. You see, he was a “hall monitor” for the dance recitals that I was a part of. The Studio’s name was Illuzion (name changed for privacy) which will come into play in a moment. I was super excited to tell him that I was also a part of Illuzion and that he had once made me laugh when he had pretended to throw water on the dancers walking by. Well, he came over to me with a big goofy grin and said, “I see that your name is Dreamette! How are you?” to which I blurted out “Illuzion!” instantly my face flushed. I could have died. He laughed so hard he might have even snorted. “You’re Illuzion? No, I meant how are you doing?” Yhea. I knew what he meant. All I wanted to do was melt into the floor. That was eight years ago and I still get squeamish thinking about it. Unfortunately, at the time my mom never had any great advice on how to laugh at yourself when you look foolish. That kind of advice would come after many more incidents.
The reason the above situation bothered me so much is because I’ve always been very concerned about what people think of me. For someone to think I am dumb is horrifying! I tried SO hard to make people like me. But there was always someone who didn’t! I would agonize and beat myself up over it. I would spend all night and day trying to figure how I could be different and try to figure out why someone didn’t like me! Until one day when my glorious mother enlightened me with this little gem.
Setting: Our Kitchen
Action: My mom washing dishes while I dry and put them away
Me: Complaining about someone not liking me
Mom: “Jeanette I’m going to tell you something and I want you to listen well, okay?”
Me: *classic teenager sigh* “Oka-a-ay Mom.”
Mom: *ignores sigh* “The minute you walk into a room there will be three types of people. The first group will love you. They don’t know who you are or why they love you but they do. The second group will hate your guts. Again, doing absolutely nothing, they’ll dislike you. The third group could care less. They don’t love or hate you, but your actions from that moment on will sway the majority to either side. If you are a kind and caring person the people in group one will still love you. Some of the people who hate you will come to adore you, but there will ALWAYS be people in the second group who won’t like you. There is nothing you can do about that. Now we come to the third group of people who don’t care. If you’re kind, quite a few of them will come to “like” you, some may even come to admire you, but there will always be the ones who could care less. Don’t beat yourself up over the one’s who could care less or the ones who hate your guts. Focus on the people that love you, and still love on the ones who don’t.”
Mind blown. I can’t tell you how this totally changed the way I view myself and other people. I don’t worry half as much about impressing others as I used to, mainly because now I know that being myself is enough. And if other people don’t like me, so be it. I can handle that. I can love and pray for them. I’ll be honest, it’s still really hard for me to wrap my head around people not liking me for no reason. i.e., the people who won’t accept my friend request on Facebook and they leave me going, “Whaaa? I have literally done nothing to you!” But it makes sense. There are some people I have a hard time being around and they’ve never been malicious to me in any way. Needless to say, my mother is brilliant. How did she come by this amazing piece of advice you might ask? My mom was a high school teacher for 18 years. She experienced new students and the prospect of not being liked every semester. AAAHHH! I don’t know if I could handle that. Maybe someday. . . Anyway, I hope this advice helps you as much as it did me!