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Trying to please others is normal, but only to a certain extent. Sometimes, when you meet a new and unfamiliar group of people, you can feel unsure how best to behave. This is natural. But when your self esteem has plummeted, you might not feel good enough for them. They seem so cool. One of them tells a joke and you think “Why didn’t I think of that?” Perhaps they speak and dress in a way that seems different, cooler.
Trying to please others is normal, but only to a certain extent. Sometimes, when you meet a new and unfamiliar group of people, you can feel unsure how best to behave. This is natural. But when your self esteem has plummeted, you might not feel good enough for them. They seem so cool. One of them tells a joke and you think “Why didn’t I think of that?” Perhaps they speak and dress in a way that seems different, cooler. They might have some kind of status in your opinion because of the work they do, their connections or a title they hold. They might be completely bog-standard people but all these small things can make you feel intimidated if you’re already feeling a little fragile.
In instances such as these some people will feel the need to put on an act to feel accepted. It is only human nature to observe others and subconsciously mimic their behaviour if we like them. But if this comes more from a place of self-doubt than respect things can go a little awry.
Generally, when you are not being yourself you feel awkward and others will sense this. I remember, in my early teens, not feeling cool enough for some of my peers at school. At a couple of points I overcompensated for this by telling them stories of how bad I actually was. Some of them were true, but it was all I said to them and eventually they started to find it strange that I didn’t talk about anything else. It all came from a place of low self confidence in that moment. I realised later that they found me cool and quirky for the other, more teeny things about me, such as my love of books, quotes, and my ability to recite TV show quotes.
So the lesson I learnt on that day was the classic refrain: stay true to yourself. Otherwise, if you’re just a people pleaser, you will find the contradictions in your personality won’t play in your favour.
We are all different
Weirdly this is not as simple as it may sound. Primarily you should accept that it’s okay to be different because, obviously, everyone is. You have unique interests, you look different from others, you talk differently, hold yourself unlike them, you behave in different ways and you relate to others in different ways. This will come from your upbringing and all the experiences you have ever had, positive or negative, that shape who you are. Sometimes it’s not nice to dwell on this if you have been through any particularly difficult times. But, believe it or not, positive behavioural traits can come from negative experiences. It might teach you to laugh in the face of difficulty instead of breaking down, for instance.
This knowledge, that no person is exactly alike, will help you to accept yourself as different. When you behave differently from other people in a group, you might stand out, but if you’re friendly to others and that’s how you feel comfortable behaving normally, they are more likely to accept you and find you more interesting.
The words ‘find yourself’ might sound corny, like something a pretentious gap year traveller might say they are doing, before downing a load of shots and vomiting. Regardless of how it may sound, it can be a healthy to take more of a mental journey into your past and think about who you are. You might make a mindmap of all the personality traits that you have that you’re proud of. You could list your interests and hobbies. You might think about all the experiences you’ve had, any achievements you’re pleased with, or skills you like to share with others.
Thinking about what you like about yourself will put you in a good mood. But it will also strengthen your sense of self for social situations and allow you to feel more at ease in your own skin. Usually, if you like something about yourself, others will like it too.
Learn when to say no
Sometimes a relationship might require more than you are willing to give and in these moments it is important to learn to say no. It is healthy to set up boundaries that you don’t cross because you know you will risk harming yourself unnecessarily if you do. When others try to push you to be someone you’re not or simply expect your agreement with a claim you don’t accept, say no. Tell them that you won’t accept that and others will only respect you more for it because they will see that what you have done is brave.
Pay more attention to others
Another thing to remember is that others’ reactions to you don’t depend only on your actions. Sometimes people might respond badly to you but it may have nothing to do with your behaviour and simply come from their own insecurities or biases. Personality is a subjective matter because the way one person perceives you can diverge completely from the way another person does.
Choose your people
Bearing this in mind, you might want to think critically about how others view you before immediately blaming it on yourself. If you aren’t judged well by others for small, insignificant things, it’s not worth worrying about. Instead find other people whose company you enjoy more and who bring out the best in you.
"Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!
You are amazing just as yourself.