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Pleasing people

I was pondering life, the universe, and everything the other day. You know, like you do in the shower or washing the dishes. ;-) I began to fixate on one of my hang ups: that I want everyone to like me. Of course, that’s not possible, and there are plenty of people out there who probably don’t like me at all. Some for valid reasons, and others for really silly ones. Like when I first came to live in the States, a popular CBS show was running called “Touched by an Angel” starring Roma Downey. Her character, being the angel in question, was Irish. And of course, being an angel, was as sweet as sugar pie.

After several people whom I’d befriended remarked on my apparent likeness to the character, I realized they had a very false impression of me. Upon hearing my accent, even though it's Northern Irish, they had already made up their minds as to who I was and how I was expected to behave. I further realized that once these friends had decided this, they carried on with their assumption, not making any effort to try and get to know the real me. In hindsight I understand that they weren’t friends at all. But at the time I was new to living in the States, and naturally I was eager to make friends and get integrated into my new country.

I think it was my humor that caused these early proto-friends to fade away, one by one. The Northern Irish in general have a very dry sense of humor. The problem was that no one said anything to me about it so I didn’t know it was a problem. I guess I’d make some smart ass remark that any of my friends and family back in Northern Ireland would laugh at, but in Oregon the reaction was embarrassed silence. Eventually I learned to curb my humor so as not to offend. Or at least try not to.

I’ve learned to live with the fact that not everyone can like me. I sometimes wish I hadn’t chased certain friends away with thoughtless or selfish actions. But you simply can’t please everyone, no matter how much you want to. There’s an often quoted proverb, which states that you can please some of the people, some of the time, but you can't please all of the people, all of the time. Over 2500 years ago, the famous Greek slave Aesop illustrated this point in his fable "The Miller, the Son, and the Donkey." Look it up; it’s fun. The moral of the story is basically, "He who tries to please everybody pleases nobody."

Now I have a circle of truly wonderful friends. Who make an effort to communicate if they don’t understand what I say, so we clear up any misunderstandings on the spot. And I’ve learned to just be myself and not worry about whether people like me or not. Although I'm very happy if they do! :-)

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
jaylake
May. 2nd, 2012 11:37 am (UTC)
*I* like your sense of humor...
daedalus_x
May. 2nd, 2012 05:03 pm (UTC)
I think it's probably a good thing that no one ever said anything to you about your sense of humor -- you might have changed it, thinking it was wrong. (You said "so I didn't know it was a problem.") And that would be a mistake.

Personally, I've got a somewhat quirky sense of humor and while my family and my friends do give me crap about it, it's a necessary part of me. Deep-seated and reflective of who I am. I, too, want everyone to like me but I don't think it's right, or smart, to give up something that's so much a part of me just for that. Especially a sense of humor -- there's enough people out there who don't have much of one.
saycestsay
May. 2nd, 2012 09:26 pm (UTC)
Yes, I'm human
I like you fine. Plus, I appreciate (and frequently use) a dry sense of humor :) Sometimes acquaintances don't understand and you gotta be a bit ... guarded, which is why being with those who are close/appreciate you for yourownself is such a relief.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )