We live in the internet age. A time when you can be whoever you want to be. Simultaneously, we are bombarded with things telling us who we should be! We are conditioned to gauge our self worth by the way that other people perceive us.

Here’s the thing, you’re not meant to be liked by everyone. You’re not meant to fit into every situation. You may want these things but, the reality is, that’s a farfetched goal. I’d go so far as to say that it’s a utopian fantasy.

We have a tendency to push against the nature of things. For instance, many animals travel in tight knit packs with defined roles that serve the good of the whole packs. We seek to fit into multiple packs never contributing fully to the sake of any one group instead mostly concerned with the feelings we get from being a part of that group. Primates, as another example, know that when they reach a certain number their communities become unsustainable. To prevent this, they send a group off to start a new colony. Not out of anger or frustration but for the sake of the whole community. We build more floors on the building and pack people in tighter.

The difference between us and animals, besides the obvious, seems to be that they know their role, their purpose, or their lane, if you will, and they stay in it seeking the greater good of the community rather than personal gain. Yet again, we operate in opposition.

So desirous to fit into the various groups whose approval we seek, we willfully change our very identity, sacrificing our personality for the sake of approval! I’ve, personally, learned these lessons the hard way! I spent years of my life being the person I thought others wanted me to be. Doing things I hated in order to be accepted by others.

Something interesting happened when I finally got honest. All those people went away! When I made the decision to be the person that I wanted to be, and not the person they wanted me to be, they no longer had an interest in a relationship with me. It was a painful experience but it was also transformative.

You see the people who loved and accepted me for who I was, before I went in chameleon mode, were the people who were there to catch me when I fell. They were the people who nursed me back to emotional and mental health, and they are the people who love me dearly no matter what mistakes I make or what I do to hurt them or piss them off!

I never felt that when I was trying to be something I wasn’t. We seldom do in those situations because we are too concerned with keeping up appearances. But the love I feel and the love I give to those people in my life is genuine love, it has depth and value to all involved, it’s trusting and vulnerable, its honest even when it hurts, and it puts value on the individual as an individual not the person they pretend to be.

In the end, I’ve found that authenticity always trumps approval. If you love and accept yourself for who you are, you will seek people who do the same. Deep, meaningful, lasting connections will blossom.

Our relationship with ourselves sets the tone for all other relationships in our lives. It’s important that we love and accept ourselves first. It’s also important that we begin to cut away those connections based on false pretenses, fake personas, and self interest.

If someone doesn’t love you for you, they don’t deserve you! You’re worth more than that. My definition love is this: Love says I’ve seen the ugly in you, I’ve seen the defeats, the victories, the joy, the tears, the pain, and the beauty and I’m not going anywhere! Don’t accept anything less!

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