My desire to fit in and be accepted has always conflicted with my ability to stay true to myself. The tattoo on my back, a fishing fly, is a motif of not selling out with my beliefs to be liked by those around me.
The price is too high.
At 18, I was working on a horse ranch in Spain and found myself for the first time, being myself. After years of frustrated conversations with myself as I lay in bed and pondered on whether I was good enough, and why I lacked the integrity to remain a single person within different crowds and conversations, I accidentally let the act fall when it had slipped my mind.
I was working too hard to think or care about anyone’s opinion of me, and so I naturally fell into a rhythm of opinion and emotional interaction that wasn’t measured or filtered before I spoke or acted.
I forged a deep and meaningful friendship in that stage of my life. As he left, Jackson took a fishing fly from his hat and put it on my rucksack, which now reminds me that to be loved for someone that isn’t you isn’t to be loved at all. I wear a fishing fly tattoo on my skin to remind me of this.
It’s been a bit of a rough old time with self-doubt for me. I both doubt myself to such an extent it can cripple me, and feel compelled to speak loudly for what I believe to be right. If I didn’t speak out, I wouldn’t be doing justice to myself. But also, by speaking out I’ve pushed people away, and sometimes been disapproved of by my peers, which sends the spirals of doubt back into motion.
And so, I came to a realisation. That no matter what happens, you will never be universally liked or appreciated unless you live your life like the world is a stage.
As my dad always says: ‘the best lesson you can ever learn, is that some people aren’t going to like you. Not because they don’t understand you, they will understand you completely. They won’t like you for the very things that make you great.’
When all is said and done, you can only seek the approval of yourself. Do you think you are a good person? Only you can know the kindness in your heart, or the empathy in the pit of your stomach when you see another person in pain. No one can measure your goodness but you.
Don’t try too hard to be liked. Don’t sell out. I’m getting better at that now, but for someone with strong political and social beliefs it can be hard to stay firm when your intensity makes others feel uncomfortable. It can be isolating and frustrating, easier to nod and smile in the face of what you hate.
To be not liked is to have stood have something. To stand for something is what ultimately gives you a sense of pride and sureness when the lights are off and you lie in bed with no one to talk to but your own insecurities.
It’s ok to not be universally loved, and it doesn’t mean that you are of any less worth.