You Can't Be Everything To Everyone (So Stop Trying)
The other day I received two angry emails from people who’d submitted to my site, but hadn’t gotten published on it. I’d apparently also let someone down because they sent me a Facebook invite for a birthday party that I didn’t make it to.
That same day, my cousin, who’s more like a sister than a cousin, told me she’d been angry with me about something for four months. I’d had no idea. I listened to what she had to say and did my best not to defend myself but, (a) I truly didn’t remember saying what she’d said I said, and (b) It didn’t make sense to me why she was upset, even after she spent 47 minutes explaining.
Still later that night, a piece of my writing was rejected for a major magazine I’d been pitching. I wanted to get back in bed and zipper my mouth shut. I wanted to stop writing. I wanted to shut down my blog.
I felt swallowed by life. I gave myself seven minutes or so of feeling sorry for myself. I reread an email from a friend who is a well-known author:
“Jen, I allow myself 15 minutes to feel like sh*t. Then I say f*ck it and move on. It's taken me years to get this good at it. Years of tears and self-loathing. Have a donut and a cookie and move on.”
So I made a pot of coffee.
And then I remembered what I know to be true but sometimes forget: you cannot be everything to everyone. You cannot make everyone happy. Just a little reminder today for you. (Who am I kidding? It’s for me, too.) For all of us.
You cannot be everyone's friend, mentor, companion, lifeline, confidante, airport picker-upper, publisher, soulmate, meal ticket, patter-on-the-backer, lover, mother, feedback giver, wine pourer, yoga buddy, movie date, editor, nail polisher, fiasco fixer. Not everyone will like you. You won't like everyone.
Let me reiterate: You ABSOLUTELY cannot make everyone happy. (So stop trying.) It's a no-win situation. It'll drain you and leave you like a pile of coffee grinds. People will be disappointed for various (often weird) reasons. Sometimes those reasons will make sense, sometimes not. Sometimes those reasons will be fair and sometimes fair is just another word for a place where they have funnel cakes and roller coasters.
So stop worrying so much. There is most definitely someone out there who doesn't like you or feels you've failed them. But, on the bright side, the really blinding bright side, the I-need-my-glasses-this-sh*t-is-so-bright-side, there are many people who love you, who think you're the greatest thing since sliced bread, who could've never made it through X, Y and Z without you, who trust you, who care for you, who would lay down in front of a Mini Cooper for you, who think you are as hot as Gisele Bündchen, regardless of what you look like on the outside. Just look at you, you greatest thing since sliced bread, Gisele-ish person, you.
So let's do our best to keep moving forward with less second guessing and worrying, less "I-wish-everyone-loved-everything-I-said/did/wrote/wore." Less, "I am a bad/mean/awful person because I had to say NO."
Let's try not to intentionally hurt others but for the love of sliced bread (with gluten), let's give up worrying so much, people pleasing, and all the other time-sucking, love-wasting, energy-vampirish things we do.
Here's to being human. My coffee mug to yours.