Someone honked at me in traffic because I didn’t slow down so that they could enter my lane. They didn’t need to be in my lane. Their lane was not closed, there were no police pulled over or trees in the way. They wanted to be, and they expected me to be accommodating. That’s not really how traffic works, but it really, really bothered me to think that someone out there in the world might think that I am an asshole, or even be thinking about me with anything other than total indifference or mild affection.
I’ve always felt this way. When I was in grade ten, the boy who had a crush on me told me that his friend didn’t think we should date because he thought I was “weird and not the best looking”. This statement is objectively true, but it set my fifteen year old self back a few paces. It had truly never occurred to me that someone on this planet might have negative feelings untoward me. The very idea sent my head spinning, and I spent a lot of time trying to prove that boy wrong. He wasn’t wrong, though, they were true, the things that he said, but I had never imagined that after all of my years of trying to be the girl that everyone liked, someone out there didn’t care for me at all. I worked really hard to try to change his mind, and just ended up exhausting myself.
The need to be liked has been detrimental to my mental health in the past, and has also resulted in me doing some very, very shitty things to people around me. Such as the 2 times (because I didn’t learn the first!) that I made one of my friends “break up” with a boy for me. Amazingly, those friendships were not permanently tarnished, but the relationships with those boys certainly were. Probably much more than they would have been if I had just ova’d up and said something myself. More than that, though, is that I’ve gone above and beyond to prove that I am nice, even if I don’t particularly like someone, or if they’ve been unkind to me in the past.
I’ve had a bit of a turning point recently, where I’ve realized that I don’t really owe anything to anyone. Yes, the default should be to be polite and kind, and I will continue to do that, because I don’t think I am a bad person (though there is evidence to the contrary- see above). But if someone hasn’t offered me the courtesy of kindness, maybe I don’t need to go out of my way to be nice to them. Kind of a liberating idea. I’m sure a lot of people have caught onto this much sooner than I have, and you are probably reading it and thinking how silly and naive I am. And that’s okay. I don’t really care what you think anyway.
Okay, maybe a little.