I had a revelation this weekend about friendship.
It all starts with wanting to be liked. I do want to be liked, so much so that sometimes I assume that people don't like me or that once they do, they could change their minds. To someone not living in my head, this sounds like a lot of extra work worrying about things I don't have control over. And you would be right.
That, of course, is easier said than done. Why this weekend was such a revelation to me was because I finally realized the paradox I'd created.
Afraid of not being liked, I often hide my true self...or increase my mannerisms, humor and intensity to match what I think will attract others. As it may be clear to you, this means that by not being myself, I may be turning people away who would otherwise want to be my friend.
It took several decades to understand that being afraid of losing friends has actually cost me friendships.
What's come out of this realization is substantial. A big weight has been lifted. I get to be myself—that's easier—and I get to have friends who like me for me. What a concept.
And the surprising bonus has been that I really enjoy my own company. I believe now that my most engaging qualities are the ones that come naturally to me – the more I appreciate those, the more I use them, and the more true friends I reap as a result. The paradox has become a self-fulfilling prophecy.