For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be liked and generally adored. Now, this doesn’t mean I care about likeability. I don’t. Caring about likeability means I’m willing to twist myself into different shapes and forms just to be liked and that’s one thing I rarely do. I just wanted to know that the reason why anyone would detest me was because that person was a shitty person who didn’t know good even when it hit them in the face. Alas, my present reality is not the case. Of course, there are many people who detest me for flimsy and no-good reasons but a great many more do because I am not as pure or kind or as noble as I ought to be. My shortcomings are glaringly obvious; I am ruled by emotions, illogic and dwarfish patience. I come off as abrasive and brash and it doesn’t matter how right I am or how good my intentions are. Soon, my disgust with myself morphed into debasement. I would cringe at my own memories. I began to hate myself. I wasn’t a good friend. I said mean things to people. I didn’t react properly to situations. Of course, the fault is not all mine. Certainly , some of those people weren’t on their best behaviour either but I’m the one who can’t hold her own gaze in the mirror anymore.
I’m better now. It took some work, a lot of introspection and retrospection but I’m better now. I now breathe a little easier and laugh a little louder. So, what did I do with my friendship-induced self-loathing?
- I reminded myself that imperfect is all everyone is. We all are deficient in some way and dwelling on my deficiencies helps no one. I’ll never be perfect but I can be better. Just better. Only better.
- I resolved to be kind to myself, to be gentle on myself, to give myself attainable prospects and to be satisfied with small steps in the right direction. Yes, I’m working on myself and sometimes those efforts seem futile but progress is rarely ever linear; lapses happen and these lapses do not erase whatever prior progress I have made.
- I taught myself not to dwell on regrets. Regret is such a futile emotion. Very pointless. What is done is done and there is nothing I can do to change it. Instead, I chose to focus all that energy on being superior to my former self, seeing every single day as a brand-new opportunity to try again.
- Of course, I can apologize to wrong parties and attempt reconciliation but the urge to repair all of the past should be treated with wariness. Regardless of the efforts I make and the nobility of my intentions, I’ll never be universally liked and that’s okay. I don’t even like everybody. Why should everybody like me?
Arekpitan Ikhenaode is a writer of fiction, creative nonfiction and op-eds. She can be found travelling, blogging or studying engineering in her spare time.