People-pleasing 101

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Because making people like you is a full-time unpaid job

I learned to read people at a very young age.

My siblings thought my Dad favored me most among all his children, and while I did consider it on more than one occasion, I was certain it was because I was one step ahead of my siblings when it came to consideration.

Little miss perfect

Whenever a person came to me to complain about someone else, I would register everything the person was saying, taking notes never to repeat the same thing. If the person was nice, I would try to be in the person’s good book by doing what I knew the person expected, and if the person was a terrible person (I knew from the way they spoke about other people), then I would distance myself because I understood there was no winning with that person.

I took corrections and liked it when people told me what I was doing wrong. I liked the extra perspective, and getting that information would allow me to work on myself until it was obvious I could do no wrong.

My intention was never to be perfect; it was to be liked. But it dawned on me that for everyone to like me, I had to be perfect for everyone.

I knew I was close when after correcting my sister of her misgiving, she made a statement in the lines of “I have heard, Miss perfect.”

I looked unbothered with the statement, and so softened my voice and said, “If there is something you think I am doing wrong, just say. I have no problem with discovering my fault.”

She looked at me and kept quiet. Her silence spoke volumes.

That was the first proof that being perfect did not mean everyone would like you, on the contrary, it builds a wall that separates you from others — the imperfect people.


The second thing I learned from trying to be perfect was that trying to please everyone heightened their imperfections. With this discovery came the second phase of action, learning to forgive people.

I am cool-tempered; this brewed from years of studying people. I always tried to put myself in their shoes and consider all the things that might be going wrong in their lives. And at the end of my little brain exercise, I feel too sorry for them, to even react. I know being a bibliophile and writer helped too.

Hence, learning to forgive people was relatively easy.

A lady acquaintance of mine made a back statement that I was being pretentious, and because she couldn’t trust me because she never got a reaction from me, hence, she could never guess what I was thinking. I found it funny because I have very expressive eyes and trying to act was in direct opposition to what I was trying to achieve.

I wanted TO BE perfect, and not ACT perfect.

I wanted to imbibe the skills, so no one would ever have a bad thing to say about me. I would soon realize that no matter how good you are, not everyone would be happy with you.


When I finished school, I got a job in a different state, and I had to live with family friends for a while. I went into the house intending to be as little bother as possible. When I wasn’t away at work, I was locked up in the room I was given. I did this because I thought it would make everyone comfortable.

Boy, was I wrong? It seemed I had earned a variety of titles from the older children; lazy, hermit, snobbish, quiet, and weird.

I did not take offense, I realized why they would think what they did, and so like the people pleaser I was, I tried to use this feedback to remedy their perception of me. I came out more, laughed a little bit, helped out in the kitchen, helped out in the house, agreed to run some errands, and thought maybe they would like me then.

They did, on some days.

Other days, which became more popular, they were disrespectful and attacked me unprovoked.

I forgave them without apologies. I attributed this to mood swings, they weren’t like that all the time.

Day of Reckoning

It was when I had done everything I thought humanely possible to be in their good books and it was forgotten at the sight of a mistake or misstep that I realized I had wasted most of my life trying to please people.

I had made it my life’s work to make people happy with me. And it was exhausting because I had to reinvent myself every day, for every single person I came in contact with.

In Conclusion

People-pleasing is the most exhausting thing in the world.

What do I do now? I work with vibes. I work with whatever energy a person is giving off at that particular time because I have realized that people have their problems which they have to figure out on their own, and sometimes it has nothing to do with me.

I learned not to care about what everyone thinks of me — especially those who don’t mean anything to me. It was never my job to correct their perception of me. As long as my intentions are good and my actions are not hurting anyone, I do not stress over what people are saying.

After all, it is human nature to be insatiable. Rather than wear myself out trying to make everyone happy, I choose to focus on being the best I can.

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