The need to be accepted. We all want it. Crave it. It’s apparent in the way we fill our social media pages with witty captions and filtered photos. How we run mile after mile, piling on weights at the gym to get that glamorous magazine cover body we covet. How we bake the perfect cupcakes, host Pinterest worthy parties, post picture after picture of our adorable kids and animal babies. How we Instagram the hell out of our lives in an effort to make ourselves seem more exciting than we really are.
All for more likes. More followers. More friends.
Charmingly clever. Downright dashing. Dazzlingly beautiful. We strive to be all these adjectives and more, looking up to those of us who seemingly are all these things, but also secretly hating them because we know no matter how hard we try, we will never be enough.
Comparison is a bitter enemy. So then what do we do when we realize someone will always be more charming, more dashing, more everything than us? We post more pictures. Our glamorous vacations, our beautiful babies (human or non), and everything that we’re experiencing that other people are not at the moment. All in the effort to pretend we are the gold standard other people wish they could be, to stir up jealousy, whether intentional or not.
To make ourselves feel better about our own inadequacies.
“Maybe I can’t be as clever or as beautiful as Mr. and Ms. Popinjay, but at least I’m more likeable than Ms. Socially Awkward over there.”
So the point of my thoughts today really isn’t about comparison, which I’ll leave for another day’s discussion. But I do want to talk about something else.
Everyone wants to be loved and accepted.
Ms. Socially Awkward and Mr. Painfully Shy…those who are viewed as different whether it be from a disability or autism or just atypical from what society views as “normal”…well, all they want is to be accepted too. And if you struggle with that, just think how much harder it must be for some of these people. Especially when they are constantly bullied, are on the receiving end of weird remarks or stares, and are treated as lepers.
Or are just plain ignored.
Maybe I just feel more strongly about this issue, as I have a younger brother who has Asperger Syndrome and struggles with making friends. It was always sad for me to see him try to overcome his disability, but still have people look at him with pity and disdain and ignorance. To see his peers toss up their snotty pointed noses and arrogantly assume they were better and smarter.
I’m not trying to step on any toes here, or call anyone out because I’d be a hypocrite to point fingers at anyone besides myself.
I think about all the times I’ve thought someone was weird. All the times I decided to exclude someone. All the times I thought I was better than someone.
This past weekend, my family went on a day trip to celebrate my brother’s birthday. I couldn’t help but feel a little sad for him. Because I kept thinking about how few friends he had, how he wouldn’t get that many happy birthday messages on his Facebook wall. Compared to the crazy birthday party I had this year and all the blessings from friends I’d received, I was just sorry that it seemed like he was missing out.
But as the weekend rolled on, I realized he was just enjoying the time he could spend with his family. The joy on his face was apparent as we celebrated by eating dessert waffles topped with ice cream and chocolate drizzle.
And that wasn’t all. More people than I thought wished him a happy birthday on Facebook and liked his birthday pictures. It boosted his confidence, made him smile.
It reminded me that there are still good people out there.
It reminded me that it doesn’t matter how popular someone is in the world’s eyes. All that matters is that you surround yourself with people who genuinely care for you. Those are the people who bring the greatest joy…real joy. You don’t need one hundred likes or a thousand followers. You just need a few real friends.
Most of all, it reminded me to continue to be kind, to love more. To advocate for those whose voices may be drowned out in a world where popularity and wealth and power sit on their thrones of contempt for those who are not like them.
To love the ones who feel unloved.
Because in the end, we all want to be loved.