From facade to freedom

by | Feb 29, 2024 | Creative, Opinions | 2 comments

The courage in being disliked and how to love who you are

Growing up, one of my greatest fears was the looming presence of being disliked. To avoid this, I found myself constantly shifting between different cliques, and molding my speech and actions to fit the perceived ideals of those around me. While this chameleon-like approach granted me plenty of acquaintances, none of them truly knew who I was; honestly, I don’t think I knew who I was, either. I lived behind a facade, exhausted from the effort of maintaining a persona that wasn’t authentic. In my journey to be liked by everyone, I had lost sight of the one who mattered most – me.

The breaking point came just after high school when I found myself completely worn out by this need for approval. Desperate for change, I dove into the sphere of self-growth books. Mark Goulston and Philip Goldberg’s Get Out of Your Own Way: Overcoming Self-Defeating Behavior finally shone light on my predicament. I realized that I had been playing a role 24/7, and mirroring the expectations of those around me instead of discovering and embracing myself. Recently, I was listening to Episode 159, “Embracing the Courage to be Disliked” from the podcast “Psychology of Your 20s,” and it made me reflect on that difficult time, making me want to share my journey to help anyone else with the same people-pleasing tendencies. 

Learning to embrace being disliked was a crucial step in my path to authenticity. Despite my initial doubts, I discovered that being myself was not only easier, but also essential for genuine self-confidence. Just as you wouldn’t criticize your eight-year-old self’s speech, appearance, or clothing, treating yourself with the same kindness is paramount. Constantly seeking validation from others only erodes self-confidence, as insults often stem from the insecurities of the people delivering them.

As I embarked on my journey of self-discovery, I realized that everyone is unique. This understanding, particularly prevalent in the university setting, liberated me from the self-imposed pressure to conform. Owning my style, humor, and attitude became a celebration of my individuality and a testament to the beauty of embracing authenticity.

For those afraid of losing or not making friends when they decide to be true to themselves, my experience as a self-proclaimed people-pleaser hopefully offers some reassurance. Despite my fear, I found that being authentic made me infinitely well-received in the eyes of those who truly mattered to me. Yes, there were losses along the way as some friendships faded, yet the void left by these departures was quickly filled with meaningful connections which arose from my newfound self.

The truth is, embracing authenticity is a powerful filter for true friendships. As I began to live more true to who I am, friends who appreciated and celebrated that authenticity gravitated towards me. The bond with these individuals was built on shared values and interests, creating a foundation for connections that went beyond superficialities.

In the process of being myself, I discovered that meaningful friendships are forged through honesty and vulnerability. True friends don’t expect perfection; they appreciate the flaws that make each individual unique. By letting go of the need for constant approval and embracing being disliked by those who didn’t resonate with who I am, I paved the way for deeper connections with those who did.

The journey of learning to be disliked is not about seeking confrontation or deliberately alienating others. Instead, it is a journey towards self-acceptance and authenticity. It is about liberating oneself from the suffocating ties of conformity and allowing the true self to shine. Through this process, I not only found true friends, but also cultivated a profound friendship with myself.

In a world that often pressures us to conform to ideal standards, the courage to be disliked is a revolutionary act of self-love. It is a declaration that our worth is not determined by the opinions of others, but by the authenticity of our own hearts. So, to those grappling with the fear of being disliked, I implore you to embrace your true self. In doing so, you’ll not only find the courage to be disliked but also discover the profound joy of being genuinely liked by those who appreciate the real you.


Graphic by Thai Sirikoone

Avery Chilton

The Griff

2 Comments

  1. Zaneb Alzubaidi

    Very true

    Reply
  2. Rebecca Reeves

    “embracing authenticity is a powerful filter for true friendships.” This part was super compelling and spoke to me. Thanks Avery!

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related articles

Passing the torch

Passing the torch

A raw conversation shared between two culture editors, one from the past and one from the present. Before the Griff, Intercamp ran the news around...