Sitting amongst a group of people ranging in age from early twenties to late sixties is tricky. There is age to think about. Family backgrounds. Current job situations. Romantic statuses. Intertwined relationships within the group. Religion. Expectations. How does one say something without offending at least one person in the group? How does one maximize the likeability of their words? With so much to consider before opening one’s mouth, how does one find the courage to open up at all?
I think the need to be liked is a universal human craving. Feeling liked is being hugged by your favorite aunt. Getting a slap on the back by your soccer coach. There is a certain comfort in knowing that someone is seeing you, and saying, “He is good” in their minds. We need that affirmation. We like to be liked. And the only thing better than being liked by someone is being liked by a whole group of people.
I tried to just sit there. I tried sitting pretty because sometimes all you need to do to be liked is to stay quiet and smile a little. But they started talking about planning. They were talking about long-term planning for the organization we were all there for. They started thinking about the vastness of the future and they were getting scared by all that had to be done. They weren’t actually getting anything done. I couldn’t sit anymore. I said, “For me, I’ve learned that I can’t plan because everything I’ve ever planned for never went according to plan. So I decided I’m just going to do it. I’m going to make as many mistakes as possible and pick myself up as fast as possible. I think I will get more done that way.”
And they hated my plan. They hated everything I said. I could see it in their eyes and the way they immediately moved onto the next raised hand. I felt my likeability dropping like a heavy stone going through water.
But it was okay. The only thing better than being liked by a group of people is being liked by yourself.