Like Me, Dang It!
I really want you to like me. I don’t like finding out that you don’t like me, for whatever reason. I realize that it’s usually something I’ve done to cause you not to like me, but I still don’t like it. I want every one of you to like me.
I realize that’s foolish. The more people you know or who know you, the more likely it is you’ll have more people who dislike you. Celebrities have fan clubs, but you’re just as likely to find a large group of people who despise them. You’d have to have thick skin to be a celeb, I think. I don’t think I’d be any good at it. I’d read that reviewer who disliked me or something I did, and I’d totally call them up and take them to lunch and try to fix it.
I used to do things to get people to like me – change myself in some way, hide parts of me that I thought they might not like. It usually worked… for a while. It’s kind of like those pictures in menus of desserts. They look delicious and creamy and wonderful, but the reality never quite meets up with the picture. I don’t mean to imply that I’m delicious, creamy, or wonderful, I’m just saying that the picture and the reality don’t seem to mesh. I could get testiomonials, if you need them…
It’s happened a few times to me, though, that someone has met me – the actual, not-put-on me – and stuck around, even chosen to hang around more. You know that image you have of yourself that you get reflected from the people who picked on you in grade school? Mine doesn’t jive with people choosing to spend time with me. That’s not what I want to focus on, though.
Here’s what I take from that: it’s more important to be me than to change myself for others. If you like me like I want you to, I want you to do it because you like the actual me. Granted, here online you don’t get all of me – I specifically leave a lot of myself offline. You can piece a lot of me together from what you read here, but not the whole me. That’s actually the problem with onlineness, some feel. You never know who that other person really is. They could be a spleen stealer, an albino turkey farmer, or – gasp – a 32-year-old computer technician. You just never know, so it’s best to be careful.
All this isn’t to say that you don’t change when you get to know people. Certainly not. There’s a theory floating around my current circle of friends that you take something with you from someone who has been significant in your life, whether it be the way you fold your towels or the fact that you eat chicken fingers at particular restaurants now. But it’s more than that. The thing I’ve had changed most drastically (and often) is my viewpoint.
I’ll just give you one for-instance, though I could list a bunch.
I do things I like, nothing more, nothing less. I’ve already decided on what I like in most areas, even if I don’t have much (or any) experience in the area. It’s never been easy to get me to do things I didn’t want to do. “Set in my ways” and “stuck in a rut” are phrases that have been applied to me more than once. Lately I’ve found myself trying things and doing things I never imagined I would. Like, I ate cactus a few months ago. It wasn’t good and I won’t do it again, but I tried it. That might not sound big, but for me, it is.
The problem is, you can’t ever get across to that person who helped change you just how much they’ve affected you. The outward sign might be eating cactus or leaving your house for a few hours, but that doesn’t really speak to the bigger, deeper change inwardly – that changing of the thought process that goes from “be safe, be familiar” to “try something new.” If you’ve always been a “try something new” person, you can’t understand the “be safe, be familiar” mindset. You just can’t. It’s huge.
Many times it’s not even that person who helped instigate the mindset change who reaps the “benefit” of you changing. They might see you change or try something new “for” (or with) someone else and think that it was that person who made the change in you. It’s almost impossible to show them how important they were in the process, how the process probably wouldn’t have even happened without them.
I’ve long had this idea to do a character I’d call “The Annotated Comedian.” After each joke, he’d hold up a card with bibliographic notes crediting who said the joke originally. The character isn’t totally made-up: I have a Jerry Seinfeld or Steve Martin quote for just about any occasion, and I tend to credit them. When I try to crack jokes, I’m not all that funny. I know because I’ve been told by many and varied people. That conglomeration of other people isn’t really me, and it shows. I’ve been told that when I’m not trying to make people laugh I’m funnier.
I should learn lessons from doing improv: change with the situation, go with my instinct, respond to the other people. The new things I try might not always work, but I should try them anyway. People are going to like me or not, but I want them to do it based on who I actually am.