As I entered into the prime age for peer pressure, I remember my beautiful and popular friend, Jessie, invited me to a party. She was the new girl at school and made a grander entrance than me. Everyone loved her. Boys and girls. She had clear skin and long, flowing blonde hair and the coolest clothes. For some reason, she liked me and actually invited me to a party.
I was scared to even ask my mama if I could go, because for the last few years, she put me on a strike system every time I wanted to go somewhere. I always got in trouble for being sassy or talking back, so I got a strike every time I was sassy to my mama or even rolled my eyes. If I got three strikes within a week, I was out and couldn’t go to anything. Sometimes, I didn’t even have to talk and I’d get a strike! It was a losing game every time. It became useless to ask to go anywhere.
Side note: Isn’t it funny that a discipline used to supposedly teach us a lesson or change us as adolescents never worked?
For some reason, this time was different. Maybe my mama felt sorry for me because I was in that horribly uncomfortable, insecure, un-cute phase of puberty. Whatever it was, she not only said YES when I asked her, but she also helped me pick out my outfit.
I remember a few hours before I was supposed to leave, I was pitching a fit and freaking out that I didn’t have anything to wear. Of course, my mom reminded me how fortunate I was to have clothes at all and what a ridiculous statement that was to make.
I wanted the boys to think I was hot and the girls to think I was cool. I didn’t have anything remotely hot or cool in my wardrobe. Everything felt so…uncool. Our family didn’t shop at name-brand stores.
I’m up in my room, pitching a tantrum, screaming that I didn’t want to go anymore, raging about how ugly and stupid I am. I’m imagining all these scenarios of rejection. It all came down to this question…
“What if they they don’t like me?”
Do you ever ask yourself this question?
The fear of not being liked or accepted can drive us to do dangerous things. It will make us do things we don’t even like and say YES when we really want to say NO.
The fear of not being liked will also make you a shell of a person. When we are so worried about fitting in, we try to become what we think we should be rather than who God made us to be.
My mama gave me a piece of advice that night as I was crying and doubting my ability to be liked. She said to me,
Kristen, it is better to have people respect you than to like you.
The wisdom in her words struck me, even in my immaturity. Not only did it feel true, it felt liberating.
Isn’t it exhausting hoping to be liked? Do you feel like it magnifies all the ways you are insufficient or don’t measure up? Do you place more value on others over yourself?
That night, I ended up wearing a white V-neck vest trimmed in faux fur spruced with silver metallic. I know it sounds crazy. Looking back, I wouldn’t have let myself walk out the door like that. But at the time, I liked it. Probably because it sparkled. Nevermind…definitely because it sparkled.
I walked into that party hoping to be liked, but remembering what my mama had said. I was offered a drink spiked with alcohol and I kindly said NO. To my relief, no one made a huge deal about it. At least nothing I couldn’t handle.
I mused, “It takes a lot of pressure off not trying to get people like me.” It allows you to realize what you like and don’t like and then make confident decisions.
I stayed a few hours observing the scene of this teenage house party. I never went to another house party again until after college.
At the time, it would have made social life at school, finding a place to sit at lunch and a group to stand with before the bell rang for the next six years a lot less anxiety-ridden.
But I was a young girl with a dream.
I decided that even though it wasn’t fun to choose respect over likability, my mama was probably right…even though I wasn’t going to admit that! Just like you, I always knew deep down it was best to listen to my mama. So, I did.
The desire to be liked and accepted is a basic, human desire. It’s so easy to want to fit in, but we end up compromising ourselves.
If you want to start living an empowered life, reflect on these…
- What have I been giving away that I don’t want to?
- When do I say YES when I want to say NO?
- Who do I trouble saying NO to?
- What do I really want?
- What is the worst thing that could happen if I start saying NO?
- Do I trust God with the results enough when I say NO even when I am afraid?
- Why is it better to be respected than liked?
- How am I going to start developing self-respect?
- Why am I strong enough to start setting boundaries and standards?
- Who does God say I am?
You were not made to make other people feel comfortable. You were made to be a confident and secure–a bold woman who loves God, yourself and others well.
The sacrifice to being popular can mean compromising the beauty of who you really are.
You may be the only Jesus-like person anyone ever experiences. If you are busy getting people to like you, you might become someone that Jesus never meant for you to be.
Your Reputation = The Sparkle Effect.
Thank you that I can trust you when I make decisions that aren’t easy or popular. I need to believe I am worthy and that you have wonderful plans for my future in order to have the strength to start living differently.
People may be confused or give me a hard time when I start making changes and I am scared about that. Will you be by my side every step of the way so I can have the bravery and persistence to do it? God, it is more important to me to reveal the love and wonder of Jesus and your love to others than it is to compromise my worth for the sake of being liked. Being liked now might feel better, but being respected lasts much longer.
Help me to see and feel the reward in doing the right thing now when it could mean losing a relationship. Help me to see that all I need is your love. When I live for you, the right people will come into my life and the wrong people will go. I trust you, God.
A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold. Proverbs 22:1
Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. 1 Peter 2:12
A good name is better than precious ointment. Ecclesiastes 7:1
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel. Philippians 1:27
He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. Acts 16:2
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. Psalm 1:6