Up until the summer before my junior year of college, I was the girl who always searched for approval from my parents, from my friends, and even from random acquaintances I barely knew. I always wanted to be liked and as a result was always a bit timid about speaking my mind.
I could deal with the family and friends thing. Of course we want to be accepted by the people we love, right? I’m also lucky that I’ve never been pushed into something I didn’t want to do by the people close to me. I know that most all of them have my best interests at heart.
The one thing I could never stand about myself though was the need for approval by everyone. Was I going to be like this forever? Would I graduate from college and seek approval or acceptance from every coworker and acquaintance in the future? I knew things had to change.
I can pinpoint the exact day I was able to let this part of me go. I was interning at an art gallery in Washington DC and trapped in a small room for eight hours a day with my fellow public relation interns. It seemed like the room was divided in two groups: rich sorority girls and alternative hipsters. I was neither one of this things and I quickly lost any chance at becoming a clique member as the girls bonded over semi formals and bands I’d never heard of. Even though I sat next to a nice girl who seemed to be in a similar situation to me, it wasn’t enough. I wanted to be at least marginally liked by everyone.
One of the hipster girls, *Meryl, was working on a card design for our company and asked us for font suggestions one day. Trying to be helpful, I scrolled through some font choices and told her I thought one called “papyrus” was pretty. Meryl looked at me like I had two heads and then started cracking up. She said, “Papyrus?? seriously?? my friends and I always make fun of people who like papyrus. Those people know nothing about design”.
Normally, I would laugh along with a person like this because even as they insulted me, I’d still want seem laid back and likable. But this time I was silent. As she and a few of the other girls laughed, I had a revelation. This girl and her friends make fun of people for liking certain fonts. FONTS. Who does that? I suddenly didn’t care at all what Meryl thought of me. I would never say that to someone who was just trying to help me! This moment seemed to spark a chain reaction of self confidence. Thanks to the font papyrus, I stopped trying to seem likable 24/7.
I think self worth is such important lesson for post grads to learn. When we graduate college, we’re plucked from our safe group of college friends that we’ve cultivated for four years and thrown into the masses. It’s tough to accept that people will not always like you, no matter how laid back and friendly you attempt to be. Thankfully, there are also tons of great people who will. It’s just a matter of weeding through the bad apples.
This is the time of our lives where we absolutely need to stay true to who we are. Let worthy people into your life, and for all of the Meryls of the world who don’t treat you the way you deserve to be treated? Well, Cee Lo’s got a song for them.
* name has been changed