Not everyone is going to like you, and here’s why that’s OK

My sister was 15 years older than me, which as a young girl, essentially made me an only child at home. Having no siblings around, free time was completely up to me. After dinner, I would put on variety shows for my parents. The shows were part-comedy, part-singing, and mostly me just gauging what made my parents laugh the most and doing whatever that was more. I was happy being alone, and I don’t ever remembering wishing I had a brother or sister closer in age to play with.

As I got older, the yearning to be social became more natural to me. I decided I wanted to make friends, and I rather quickly picked up on ways to do that. By the time high school rolled around, I had a huge pack of friends, and at that point, could barely stand to be alone.

But high school was no cakewalk. Within a week of losing my virginity (to a complete a**hole, btw), my entire school knew about it, and they also knew he hadn’t called me. Girls called me up just to taunt me, saying things like “You’re so stupid! He doesn’t like you at all! He just wanted to take someone’s virginity!” I was constantly called a slut, ridiculed, and accused of pretty much everything you can imagine. By my junior year, I was being psychologically evaluated, cutting myself, and in an incredibly dark place for such a young person. I stopped feeling. I started rebelling. Everything people said about me, whether true or not, didn’t matter to me. Nothing mattered to me. I didn’t even matter to me.

After surviving high school, I moved to the Pacific Northwest and started over. Though I never entirely believed all the nasty things people said about me back then, some part of me deep down wondered if they were right. The next decade, I spent moving around to different cities, learning more and more about how I wanted to live my life and what type of woman I wanted to become. But it would take writing publicly and opening up my personal life in my writing to realize that maybe I hadn’t completely accepted that sometimes people just don’t like you.

Receiving criticism is crucial to any artist, person, pursuer of dreams and/or human. But when rando people on the Internet (or worse people IRL), start being jerks to me, I know I have to step back, figure out how to accept that not everyone is going to like me, and learn how to be totally myself without fear of what people are going to think. I remind myself that I am the captain of my own ship, and I do not exist to make everyone happy. And neither do you.

If you’re tender like me, and wounded when you find out someone doesn’t like you, try to remember these five things.

1. Loving yourself is always priority one

From the moment you’re born until the moment you pass, you are stuck with yourself. All of your thoughts, beliefs, pain, happiness, sparkling moments, and regrets will be constantly swirling inside your heart and mind. If you work hard to be positive, you will be stronger than if you smash your confidence with memories of nasty things people said to you. Don’t let them fill your spirit up with mean-spirited muck that will only wear you down, make you crabby and empty.

2. You can do anything good!

Take it from my spirit animal/spiritual guru/life guidance counselor, Jessica, you really can be “anything good!” Yeah, so what, some people think you’re stupid and awful and blah blah. You can be the type of person you want to be, and maybe you’re not there yet (who is?), but at least you’re trying! Don’t let shame hide who you are. You belong here. People love you. You can do anything good!

3. Focus on those who love the real you

No matter how badass you are, it still hurts to find out someone doesn’t like you. Instead of putting yourself through the ultimately soul-crushing cycle of trying to make everyone like you, think of the people in your life who love you for you. And if you feel like you don’t have anyone like that in your life, remember this Frida Khalo quote:

4. You don’t have to be any one thing

I’m not perfect, and that’s okay with me, because I trust that I am strong and committed to learning from my mistakes and trying to become a better person. I spent a handful of years trying to only be tender. I was so afraid to say anything short of the sweetest thing ever. But it wasn’t honest. Am I tender? Yes! Do I want to be liked? Yes! Do some people need to be told to back the eff off me? Yes! You don’t have to be one thing. People are full of a million contradictions. Embrace your strengths even if you think they oppose one another. Diversity in your heart and mind is an integral part of becoming well-balanced and confident.

5. It’s inevitable

For the rest of your life, there will be people who don’t like you. Don’t get lost in peripheral opinions. If you dedicate your life to trying to make everyone like you, you will inevitably end up emptied out and unsure of who you are. Stand up for yourself. Be yourself. Love yourself. Those feelings of self empowerment can come from no one else but you.

If you’ve made a mistake, try to right the wrong. Learn from it, forgive yourself and move on. If someone is just being a jerk, tell them to back up and create a clear boundary between yourself and that person. Your attitude is up to you; in an attempt to avoid rejection you can allow the world’s opinion of you to shape you into something you’re not, or you can bravely do your best, be yourself and move onward!

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