I remember about 3 years ago, when I was working in my food service job at the time, I was reading some self-help book. I don’t even remember what it was called. Don’t get me wrong, I do think some self-help books have valuable lessons and can be super helpful. And I’m sure I did learn a few things from the book, I just don’t remember exactly what they were. The only problem with my reading the book was the reasoning behind it. I simply didn’t like myself. I thought I was mean, impatient, difficult, the list goes on. I was told by adults close to me that kids my age probably didn’t like me because I was mean. While these adults probably wouldn’t remember that if I brought it up, I never forgot. There were times when I wondered if or why people even liked me, or if I would like myself if I weren’t me. I didn’t think I would. So my solution was to try to change myself. Almost completely. I have never been a very patient person, and I have always been sarcastic and sometimes short tempered. I deemed all of these bad qualities about myself that I needed to “fix.” While there is nothing wrong with wanting to be more patient or less quick tempered, these qualities didn’t automatically make me a bad person. It’s okay to accept “bad” qualities. Now there is of course a line here, in that you shouldn’t accept any harmful or abusive qualities but being an impatient person does not make you any better or worse than someone who has all the patience in the world. What influences our thought process in all of this is the influence of other people. It seems so cliché, but it is the truth. The influence that others’ opinions have on many of us is unfortunate, and affects us in more ways than we are willing to admit.
In my case, while there was no one in particular that I was crushing on at the time, my subconscious processes and reasoning for wanting to “fix” myself was partially rooted in how I imagined people would think of me once I was “fixed.” In other words, I wanted to change how people viewed me. I imagined them seeing me as someone who truly is the whole package. Could this just be my ego? Definitely. But I don’t believe I am the only one to have had this experience. In the end, I never finished the book and I never became “perfect.” I got so caught up in being perfect that I started losing who I really was. While there were other reasons and factors in my life that caused me to lose myself, this played a significant role. The thought process was so detrimental. I would often restrain who I really was around some people to please them. Writing this as the person I am now sounds insane. But it was real, and I never felt satisfied with who I was, the people around me, and how they saw me.
All of this is not to say if there are some qualities about yourself that negatively impact you, you can’t actively work to improve them, but more so to say that these qualities themselves, regardless of societal norms or stigmas, do not make you a bad person and are not all necessarily bad qualities. And even though you should never worry about aspects of your personality for the sake of merely pleasing other people, there will ALWAYS be someone who loves every single thing about you. Don’t waste time trying to be someone you’re not. We are on this earth to learn, yes, but also to enjoy ourselves and be happy. It’s hard to do that if our goals are to constantly keep “improving” ourselves until there’s nothing left. All for the sake of others.
For so long I felt bad about myself because people around me would make sly comments about qualities I possessed, and I would worry so much about trying to be different because I didn’t think I was likeable. It was an unfortunate period in my life but a necessary one. The reality is that I can be an impatient, quick tempered person. And while there are times that these get me in trouble, and I do wish to continue working on them, they also (along with all my other qualities–good or bad) make me who I am. As we are all ever-evolving individuals, there is a high possibility that I will change in the future–maybe even become a patient person, who knows–but that is no excuse to hate myself along the way.