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Saturday, October 5, 2013
When They're Just Not That Into You
The Reverend Al Sharpton has a new book coming out, The Rejected Stone: Al Sharpton and the Path to American Leadership, which he told WSJ’s Lee Hawkins is about how “rejected people can embrace themselves” by learning from the life experiences of other “rejects” like President Obama, Jay-Z, and of course, Sharpton himself.
Sharpton says that “... people [need to] understand all of us have been rejected for some reason… because we’re gay, because we’re poor, because we’re the oddball at home… [But] if you learn lessons in how to accept yourself, you can make it.”
While this idea is not exactly revolutionary, it kind of is.
How many of us have truly accepted who we are? How many of us are comfortable enough with our foibles, eccentricities, peculiarities, neuroses, vulnerabilities, and sensitivities such that if someone rejects us because of it, we’re okay with that? My guess is not many.
I once had a friend share with me her surprise at another’s friend’s proclamation that when it came to her social calendar, she would only keep time with people she liked.
Well, I wasn’t surprised. Outside of work and family obligations, is there any reason to spend precious free time with people you don’t like?
And by the same token, is there any reason to spend time with people who don’t like you?
Hanging around with people who don’t like you is such a downer. It’s a real drain on your energy, and it keeps you on the defense, constantly apologizing for who you are, what you believe, and what you want.
What’s the point?
I’m reminded of an episode from the television comedy series Mad About You, starring Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt. The show, which ran from 1992-1999, focused on the relationship challenges of newlyweds Paul and Jaime. I haven’t watched it since 1999, but I still find myself looking back on certain episodes with fondness.
One is where Jaime shows Paul how to change the toilet paper roll (you know how you husbands are) and another is when Jaime makes herself crazy trying to get the new neighbors across the hall to like her. She’s inviting them to this, that, and the other thing and making a real effort to place herself in their good graces, and none of it’s working.
Finally, they just tell her in a very matter-of-fact manner—we don’t like you. And she can’t believe it. Who doesn’t like her? Everybody likes her! Later, Paul lovingly disagrees.
Whatever you have to offer the world—whether it’s your unique way of viewing things, your sense of humor, your sense of style, your principles—no matter. Whatever it is, someone will reject it. Someone will reject you.
But it’s okay, because someone else will accept it and you.
So repeat after me.
"From now on, I'm only hanging with people who like me."
At the job, do your job. But don't spend any energy and definitely don't spend any time beating yourself up about the haters or those with whom you simply have nothing in common.
When it comes to your friends, don't get roped into activities with people who make you feel terrible about you. Graciously bow out instead.
If you're a creator of any kind, understand that whatever you create has a specific audience and leave it at that. For example, if you don't like my blog (and the opinions I express on it) then you aren't my audience.