(Note: The part of the conversation that I’m talking about begins around 4:30.) Words of wisdom can come from so many places. I was pleasantly surprised when I watched this clip of two famous men inadvertently having a truly deep and personal conversation about feelings of insecurity on public television. I admire John Mulaney’s willingness to be vulnerable, because he makes it clear that it is not easy for him. His willingness to be vulnerable left room for Stephen Colbert to share about the place that he’s come to in his life where he is comfortable with the knowledge that not everyone likes him, and how he finds connection with people who understand him to bolster his sense of self. I wish I could be a fly on the wall to see whatever conversation took place backstage after the taping because Colbert definitely had Mulaney’s attention.
It’s not just public figures that have to come to terms with the fact that not everyone will like them. We all do. It’s just not realistic to expect that we will be so universally likable to all sorts of different people, with their own beliefs, preferences, baggage, and issues. When we try to do this, we get stuck in loops of toxic perfectionism that can be painful and sometimes even incapacitating. It can be uncomfortable being around someone who doesn’t like us. But, so long as we do little self-checks along the way to make sure that we are conducting ourselves as honorably and considerately as we can…that’s all we can do. After that, whatever the source of the dislike is (and it may have way more to do with the other person’s baggage than anything we, ourselves have done), it’s out of our control so all we can do at that point is practice acceptance. It can also help to check in with people who accept us for who we are to remind ourselves that our thoughts and feelings are valid and important.