Overheard at CoHo: “You love getting people to like you. But whenever you find out that one person dislikes you, you freak out.” Naturally, because the goal is to get everybody on campus to like you.
Not so much. If everyone likes you, chances are you aren’t showing your true colors, no matter how charismatic of a person you are. Chances are if asked, you wouldn’t know what those true colors are.
The fear of being disliked can paralyze students in a no-man’s land that is all effort, no returns. You try and try and try to get everyone in your sorority to like you, but there is inevitably going to be that one girl who you just don’t click with. You bite your tongue in section when an acquaintance starts spewing nonsense to keep your weekend relationship with that same person glossy and chummy.
All this comes at a high price. I’m not talking about having a “moral backbone” or displaying the same personality in every scenario. That’s unrealistic. I’m talking about trying to understand who you are for yourself alone and leaving others out of it, because let’s face it – in the end their opinion of you is not in your control.
In the vague groping toward understanding who you are, the pressure to be Miss Liked By Everyone can confuse things. When the question “will they like me?” colors every outfit, Facebook status, and sarcastic remark I make, I lose sight of who I am becoming and look instead to make everyone around me happy, even when I know it’s impossible. There is a frightening byproduct of the disease to please, a virus I’m afraid I’ve caught. I catch myself shaping my personality based on external cues instead of internal understanding. The result is contrived and, worse, conventional. Calculated. Bland. Vanilla.
Take the Facebook “like” button. A cursor click that boils down thoughts, conversations, and experience-sharing to two possible outcomes. A victory and a defeat. Accumulate victories and you can stroke your ego for a few seconds, no matter how little that external ego resembles your inner id. I had no concept of the power of the “like” button before I started writing this column. Now it dangles before me like a carrot on a stick, urging me not to write better columns, but to write more “likable” columns.
It feels like striving toward an aesthetic that is pretty and easily digestible, instead of one that is beautiful but complicated and subjective. Granted, when the student body is small and geographically circumscribed, it pays to be civil and pleasant to most everyone. Though I hate to say this, being fake is a skill worth learning. Do be civil and bite your tongue if you’re about to blurt out something hurtful, even if this behavior feels fake. Just learn how to distinguish between being fake and becoming fake.
Show Renee your true colors at firstname.lastname@example.org.