Lately, I’ve been trying to practice what I preach but it’s hard because I’m a woman with anxiety and severe insecurity issues that have made me codependent on basically anyone who treats me like shit.
My earliest memories of hanging out with friends, wasn’t something fun or innocent; it was me, blocking the door so my then neighbor who had just wrote on my bedroom walls in red Crayola crayon and broke my Barbie doll tried to leave because she was “bored.”
From a very early age, I wanted people to like me. I was Michael Scott before Michael Scott even existed. I’d feel this need and insecurity about myself – that I was unloved, or unwanted, nerdy and just plain terrible to be around – that I subjected myself to years and years of being an outcast. I was once so unpopular that one day at recess, my parents decided to bring hula hoops, McDonald’s and a boom box to the recess court in an effort to have kids play with me.
High school was more of the same; bottom-tiered. I wasn’t explicitly teased but I was far from being popular in the smallest of terms. I even used to duck my head when I’d get in the car with my then best friend because I didn’t want to come across as a “loser” when we drove past the popular kids. I have pangs of regret about that to this day because that was a shitty, shitty thing to do.
Fast forward to modern day and there’s that little, chunky girl with a face full of acne and stringy hair who had no friends who lives inside me. She comes out whenever someone new at work shows up who is seemingly prettier and more polished than I am. She comes out whenever I walk into a room, once feeling confident, and then feeling the swelling panic and anxiety that no one there really likes me. She comes out when I try to assert myself and then feel rejected because people around me don’t deserve to know my true feelings. Like everything else she did, those feelings must be suppressed. They must be buried.
Those years have made it painstakingly difficult for me to understand that not everything is worth my attention. I’ve become so accustomed to having to claw my way out of situations in order for people to like me that I’ve forgotten to ask myself, “Do I even really want that person in my life?” Does that person even bring any value to my life?
People will always and consistently be mean to you as a course of nature. The cycle of rescue, victimize and persecute is a real thing and it’s often something that those who engage in it, will stick their claws out and scratch you with later on. Those attacks will seemingly come out of nowhere. Those attacks will seemingly catch you off guard.
People will always and consistently be mean to you because it’s a choice they have. It’s a choice to rattle you and attempt to make you feel a certain kind of way, but you don’t have to adhere to it. You don’t have to oblige.
Your choice is to recognize what is actually worth your time. Your choice is to recognize what will hurt you, and what you can learn from.
It’s a cliched thing to say, but life is way too short and fleeting to spend time with people who don’t want to be in your life. You can recognize these people. They are the ones who hurt you under the guise of caring about you. They are the ones who go out of their way to fling insults. They are the ones who are up and down, always expecting you to be there to catch them with open arms. That’s not friendship; that’s abuse.
They are the ones who offer sincere apologies – the ones who rescue you – only to later feel victimized by their kindness and persecute you for their actions. You are not responsible or at fault for the decisions of others. You are not responsible or at fault for the nature of another human being. You are only responsible for what you respond to, for what you allow yourself to indulge in, for what you allow yourself to feel sorry for.
No one has the right to make you feel bad. That is only a choice you can make for yourself. I spent my entire life living with the fear that people who were mean to me, people who failed to support me, people who went out of their way to be mean-spirited were deserving of my friendship, my time and my loyalty.
At some point, you have to ask yourself: “Don’t you love yourself more?”
The people we spend time with, whether they are friends, co-workers or family, are who shape us as we move through life. Don’t choose to think you always belong with the same category of people. There are people who will try to bring you down, who will try to make you feel like you’re in the wrong and put you on blast for all the horrid things you’ve done – and continue to do – as a person. They will break you down without the worry of building you back up. They will break you down because it makes them feel better – even momentarily.
It is not their responsibility to build you back up. It is only yours. And it’s only you who can prevent people from breaking you down in the first place.
We are all human. We are all going through an internal struggle that those around us can’t understand – or won’t understand. We are all sensitive creatures and emotional, but at the very same token, we’re people who are continually striving. We are people who are continually choosing to stand after we’ve been kicked in our knees.
Don’t allow someone to make you feel like you’re the person who’s destroying it all. People who are mean to you are angry at you for the traits you hold but they lack. They are angry at the same actions they are guilty of doing. Be mindful of who is talking to you and where that anger is stemming from. Your life, your mind, and your days will be brighter when you stop depending on everyone around you to bring you happiness and unequivocal support. They won’t.
And that’s fine because it’s not up to them; it’s up to you.