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You Really (Don't) Like Me

"You like me. You really like me."

Sally Field, upon winning her second Academy Award for "Places in the Heart"

When I was young, it used to upset me when people didn't like me for no reason at all. My mother used to tell me that there are people who aren't going to like you just because, and it has nothing to do with you. To me, it just defied logic -- how could you dislike someone who has done nothing to you?

Now that I'm older, I totally understand what my mother was trying to tell me. And my attitude has changed, too. In my twenties and thirties, I would have seen someone's unmerited dislike of me as a challenge, and I would have waged a personal PR campaign to prove myself worthy of being liked by them.

Now that I'm in my forties, eff 'em. Including the ones I'm related to.

That was the hardest part -- accepting that, yes, there are people I'm related to who don't like me. For reasons unrelated to me, for things I've never done (or at least I'm not aware that I've done). I remember at a recent family reunion, a cousin I hadn't seen since I was a teenager remarked to my sister in my presence, "Wow, I thought she was all stuck up." At first, I was pleased to see that I had inadvertently won yet another PR war. It later dawned on me that I shouldn't have cared whether this person liked me or not, even if she was related to me. I could count on my hands the number of times we had interacted, and there's a significant age difference between us such that, even as cousins, we wouldn't have run in the same circles. We hadn't spent enough time together for her to have made any judgment about me, but, lo and behold, she had. Whatever.

I'm done with trying to make people I've done absolutely nothing to like me. We all should be. My mother was right. And my best friend's mother used to put it best: "They talked about Jesus, and he was perfect; what makes you think they're NOT going to talk about you?"

Yesterday, I got on the elevator with two older co-workers I've not really interacted with since I started my job here in December. I've had a frigid reception from them since the day I started. But there's something about being in your forties that frees you from caring about petty things like this. I just smiled to myself and thought, "Eff 'em."


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