When I was thirteen I had a ballet teacher who was incredibly hard on me. He’d shame me in class and never offer a kind word, no matter how hard I worked. One day as I stood on my toes and twirled and twirled, he yelled out, “You could walk into any company, Hamilton, and they’d take one look at your body and hire you. But as soon as they saw you dance, they’d fire you!’
I remember the feeling of shame and the heat that rose up and stained my cheeks as I kept twirling and trying. Tears escaping the corners of my eyes, heart crushed. One of my friends twirled by and brushed my arm with her hand, a gesture of sympathy, and I had to work harder not to break down. I danced that day with a fire raging inside me until he finally asked if I was okay. That shocked me, and made me wonder at my rage and his behavior. How could he think I was okay?
Years later, after I’d stopped dancing, I ran into him on Broadway. He called out to me. He seemed much older, but his gait was unmistakable. He asked me how I was, how my little brother was, and where I was dancing. When I told him I’d quit, he was stunned. He said he’d always thought I’d been special, that’s why he was so hard on me. The fact that he was so hard on me was one of the reasons I’d quit, though I decided not to share that with him. He wasn’t teaching anymore, so his brand of tough love wasn’t likely to have a painful impact on any other thirteen year old. I could see he’d meant well, even if his methods were lacking in compassion or understanding at the time.
If you’re a certain kind of person (people-pleasers, take note), and you sense someone doesn’t approve of you, the disapproval is a hook. Once you’re on the line you can dance like a clown, but you’ll never get the affirmation you seek unless you affirm yourself. I’ve had people roll up their mats and leave my yoga class, I’ve had people write nasty posts about this blog. Not everyone is going to like me, or you. The main thing is being able to look yourself in the eye at the end of the day when you’re brushing your teeth in front of the mirror. The only opinion about the kind of person you are that truly has an impact on your well-being is your own opinion. If you live your life trying to please everyone else, you’re going to be miserable. You’ll be coming from a place of neediness and desperation. There’s no power in that, and you can never make everyone happy.
I’d argue you can never make anyone happy. People are happy or they aren’t, that’s inside work. But if you’re living in alignment with what’s true for you, if you’re honoring your intuition and following the pull of that yes, you really can’t go wrong. That yes is your connection to your purpose and your gifts. Your gifts are yours to share. If you’re coming from that place, you’re coming from love. People who are angry or bitter may not like that or understand it. It’s hard to be coming from a place of pain. Wish them love, but follow your heart, so when you see those “I want you to like me stickers” on your mirror at the end of the day, it’s a no-brainer.
Sending you so much love,