30 June 2011

Someone is going to not like you eventually

I was reading a very interesting article online about how it's very bad for you if you try to please everyone around you. No matter how good you are to the crowd in your life, there are always going to be people who don't like you.

The best part of that article was that and it doesn't matter. The world is still going to turn and you are still going to go about your life. Even if you feel bad that you may have found a new enemy (well ok maybe not enemy, but non-friend).... so what? A lot of times in my life I've had people complain to me about my ways or my habits that they didn't like and I keep reminding myself, "so what?" and move on. I remember when I was younger, I had this obsession with black (and eventually colorful) nail polish, I used to enjoy the look on people's faces when they'd see my fingers painted in red, green, yellow, black, etc. colors that had no apparent relationship to each other. Many people would question if I felt uncomfortable when people gave me those looks, and I'd usually respond with my usual so what? I suppose having grown up in Hong Kong as a foreigner, I've gotten used to people giving me weird looks, or I've just grown numb to them.

The so what attitude probably came about when I was blessed with Metallica's cover of Anti-Nowhere League's So what:
 This song definitely had an impact on me when I think back to the number of times I had this drilled into my ears. Especially when you're a teenager, searching for your own identity, realizing that so what is quite a powerful attitude really helped me.

Speaking of teenagers, I recently had an interview with a group of 40+ students who fired questions at me one after another for 1.5hours. They included my growing up as the foreigner amongst my local friends, the challenges I may have faced learning who I am and accepting me for me. It reminded me of all the times in my life I was ashamed of who I was. I wanted people to like me, so I was searching for the ideal person that would fit into what everyone wanted to like.

Sadly, everyone likes something else and unless I can be a chameleon of personalities, I was never going to achieve that goal. Initially, the challenge was to make the people around me like me, then came the phase where I wanted to make girls around me like me, then came the period I wanted to make the girls I liked like me, which transformed into wanting to make my girlfriend at the time like me, and on and on and on. Each time things didn't work out, break ups happened or friendships ended, it was a good lesson and reminder to me that there is always going to be someone who doesn't like who you are, no matter how you change to suit their tastes. Heck, people's tastes change all the time. I used to enjoy painting my nails as a teenager and in university, but today I have no interest in it mostly because that's not time well spent in my books anymore and the surprised look on people's faces when they see my fingers isn't what I'm looking for.

Everything I do in my life has been criticized and there's at least 1 person who doesn't like me for that thing I do. But I guess instead of focusing on that 1 person who doesn't like it, why not focus on that (at least) 1 person who does. Me. And if you don't like what I just said, so what? :)

Long weekend ahead here in ol' Hong Kong, which means one thing for me (it always means the same thing), catching up on my work! Yay! At least I do this to myself because I enjoy what I do :).



Blogger Chi said...

Moving to UK when I was 8yrs old meant I had.a very similar experience. Al I wanted was to feel like I belong. I was constantly worried about what image I'm reflective for my own people. I enjoyed martial art and maths but I absolutely hated how that fed into the stereotype. I started doing things to please my friends and girls I liked, but being the only Chinese family within 30 miles radius meant news of my misbehavior travelled to my parents extremely fast. It was a very bad experience for us all. from then on I didn't want to stand out anymore... I think that killed a part of me, took me quite a few years, moving 3 times, end of a 5 yr relationship and buckets of self reflecting tears to rebuild.

I have tried explaining my thoughts to my friends before but not many seem to understand. Which is one of the reason I decided to come back to hk. Thinking back I wish I had the type of courage you have to just be yourself. I wonder how things would have turned out. I don't regret how things are now, as I'm much happier and stronger, just a little curious.

I'm reading a book by 37signal called ReWork at the moment, there's some good points in there which often resonate with what you say.

Thanks for the trip back to memory lane

03 July, 2011 10:10  
Blogger Vivek Mahbubani said...

Hey Chi! 37Signals are awesome guys!! I love their stuff, I read a lot of their things and they were a big impact on me when I was still starting my web business on my own... their idea of having tools to manage projects, etc. really inpsired me to set up proper ways to work... ways that worked for ME. I was tired of hearing people tell me like "oh come on, just use something like excel to keep track of everything, we do that in the office"...but it just didn't cut it... majority didn't make it the correct way.....

I had to go through some tough times in my life as well, but every bad situation, has been an eye opener for me. Reading old journal entries, seeing how I was so fed up with things around my life and where I am now, I'm glad those hard times happened...what doesn't kill you makes you stronger right? :)

Thanks for reading and sharing, glad you're a happier person now, hey, at least all those struggles make the story of your life so much more interesting :)

04 July, 2011 00:02  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool thoughts. Hope you're keeping up the positive habit.

This kind of resonates with something a friend of mine wrote which is kind of related regarding their music and defining their own sound... "I'm naturally gravitating towards a more rootsy, mountain folk sound, in voice and instrumentation. It feels Good and Honest to do that right now. Good and Honest is the highest aim, but on the days I can't reach that high, I just go with Honest."

It's nice being reminded that we can't even please ourselves sometimes! But as long as we're staying true to ourselves or our values that's okay too.


14 July, 2011 06:56  
Blogger Vivek Mahbubani said...

Hi there, thanks for your comment. Ahah that's a nice compromise :) I think at the end of the day, we ourselves are our biggest causes of stress...I find myself stressing myself out a lot of times simply because I expect highly of myself and when I don't reach that expectation I try to figure out why and the stress begins because my mind is saying "but you CAN do it" but my reality is saying "but you DIDNT do it" :P

14 July, 2011 11:18  

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