Over the past two years, I realized something very astonishing, yet valuable and enlightening. But the sad part is, I had to learn it the ‘hard way’. Since my childhood, I grew up with an idea of being ‘nice’!(whatever that meant) Nice to friends, nice to teachers, nice to family, nice to things, nice to everyone I knew and also nice to strangers. I know this sounds crazy or too much, but my utmost mission in anything and everything I did was to NOT hurt people involved. I can’t blame my family or my surroundings or my upbringing for this idea of mine, but my own very self! Nobody taught or forced me to be ‘nice’ at all costs, or to please every lame person I knew. But I did it and later I had to repent.
This obnoxious idea of mine worked perfectly fine in my growing up years. There were hardly ANY instances where I intentionally or unintentionally caused discomfort to someone. Thus, I was the most likable, admirable and ‘nice’ human to everyone who knew me. But, I hardly got this in return. Not everyone I knew was ‘nice’ to me. But that was okay, after all, that was how I was different and unique from the rest, I convinced myself. I always had clean intentions and wanted people to know I did. This strange habit of making sure I was perceived right, made me think more about “What others think of me?”
This phenomena was the stepping stone for my irreparable downfall. As I became an adult, I could see the way people changed. Being honest and ‘nice’ did no good to myself, as I was anyway not perceived the way I intended to be. My intentions were misinterpreted, my fear of being misjudged happened and I was no longer likable. My life started revolving around these constant life ruining questions- “What will others think? What if I’m labelled?” Though I heard and got advice from my well-wishers that what others think was none of my business, I craved to be perceived the way I really was. I feared judgement, I feared misunderstanding, I hated being talked about in a wrong way. As a result, whenever I was misunderstood, I started giving explanations for myself. This is the worst part! No matter how truly and righteously you try to explain yourself, the person on the receiving end, only receives what they want to!
I failed making the right decisions, as I worried more about what people may talk about me, rather than what I really wanted. Soon, I faced situations one after the other where I was misperceived in spite of all my efforts. I was judged, labelled, talked about, everything I always feared. I became what I never wanted to be. I lost peace, felt like a failure and was stressed out.
As a consequence, I realized that it was a flaw. A flaw in myself that doesn’t work to survive in the world today. This hard hit lesson made me realize the importance of what others think was not up to me. In the process, though it was hard, I learned to make the right choice of putting myself over others. Though I don’t have as many people that ‘like’ me than I used to, I don’t care anymore. I realized this from ruining and making the worst mistakes, as the impact was hard on my life and not theirs.
I learned to let go people, places and things that don’t matter for my happiness and well being. I learned to say ‘No’ and stopped being a doormat. I became fully aware of the fact that if I’m pleasing everyone, it means that I’m definitely doing something wrong. The people pleaser in me has slowly started subsiding and as a result my inner peace started emerging. Finally, I feel free, after experiencing a hard learned lesson!