There is nothing more tragic in our early social lives than the discovery that we can't always be liked. From a very young age, we crave approval, working hard for the love and applause that they herald on the silver screen. "You like me, you really like me!" yells Sally Field from the Oscar podium. We clap our hands wildly and lust for the same. Every person on this planet, man and woman, desires to be well-liked and well-received.
The truth to this story is no Hollywood romance. From the moment we start talking and formulating our own ideas, we are confronted with the notion that some people will not like us. Still more tragic is the fact that our words and opinions will be trapped in the consciousness of other people, turning us into hateful, odious people before we have even had the chance to show our true colors. Perception is King, and that King loves nothing more than to take control of everything around him.
As an attention-loving, validation-seeking society, being disliked can really put a damper on our plans. In the blink of an eye, it will ruin your self-confidence and make you question your own motives. If we try so hard to be well-liked, then why does it backfire? Why do the endless hours of political correctness and good intentions add up to nothing more than a sneer and a "what a jerk?"
Despite your best efforts, it's nothing personal. The way I see it, there are four main reasons why people won't like you:
1) They're self-projecting. They brought out the mirror, but uh-oh, they forgot to point it towards themselves. The things that they claim to not like about you are actually undesirable traits in themselves that they are either unwilling or unable to acknowledge. It's not your problem, and it's not your duty to swivel that mirror back to its intended position. Understand the person's underlying motives, accept them, and move on. You don't have time for people who don't know how to use mirrors anyway.
2) Your beliefs, opinions, ambitions, morals, etc. differ from theirs. This is where the Perception King reigns. Say they value family life above all things, and you keep your priorities with your career; this can be a serious conundrum for some folks. They may completely disagree with your free-flowing, Agnostic, left-wing agenda while you pursue your dream as a car show model, but that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with you. Your differences are just too much for them to continue a friendship with you. It's best to allow them to return to the Church of Scientology with their Republican friends.
3) You've grown apart. So, you've been friends for ten years, and all of a sudden, they don't have time to hang out? It happens. As we get older, our priorities change. We become different people, and soon after that, it becomes impossible to maintain friendships with people who no longer fit our new persona. Again, their priority changes are nothing against you. You just happen to remind them of the days when they were naked and drunk instead of clothed and productive. They'd rather not go back there.
4) You're awful. This is actually a rare one. I haven't met many people who were so bad at being people that no one wanted to be around them. Remember the Perception King? This is his favorite territory to rule, and he does so with an iron fist. As long as you care for others, act compassionately, and stay authentic to who you are, you will most certainly have some fans out there. You're only an awful person if you constantly work to hurt others, so barring any Henry VIII tendencies, I think you'll be OK.
We can't be Sally Field on Oscar night all the time. We will all be served with harsh criticisms, strange accusations, and cruel comments every once in a while, and it's how we deal with it that really demonstrates the true nature of our character. If you know who you are and strive to be the best person that you can be, you have nothing to worry about. The opinions of other people are boring compared to the unique "you." Rise up, be proud, and let the rest take care of itself.
In time, every ruler must give up their reign. Perception can't hold the throne forever.
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