“You should never change, not for anyone”. It’s a theme of so many blog posts, articles, and motivational speeches to heartbroken friends. And I agree, at least in most cases. Changing for someone is a slippery slope. But I’m not going to be talking here about dumb boyfriends who tell you they won’t love you if you don’t lose weight, or about bullying, or being different.
I want to talk about those people who say they’re doing everything they can but they have no friends (not a few ones out of school/work, I mean not a single one). And those who dislike the whole world. Or who think everyone has ganged up on them.
Let me start with a short story from my own past. When I was 16, I started grammar (high) school, which meant going to a new school, full of strangers. I was a very ambitious 16-year-old, I wanted to study law in the UK, at one of the top universities (one day I will tell you about how fantastically that worked out), so, obviously, I needed to study hard. I had very tunnel vision – it was all about the grades. Everyone who didn’t treat school as seriously as me was, in my 16-year-old eyes, a moron. I now realise how stupid I was, but hey, hindsight and all that, right? And you know what, people didn’t like me. Thinking about it now, I don’t blame them. I was insufferable. But back then, I didn’t understand what the problem was. Why does no one like me? Why don’t they try to understand me? It took me almost a year and a lot of tears to realise that it wasn’t the 17 people in my class who were the problem, it was me.
After I realised it was all about me, I made an effort to be more likeable. I didn’t become any less studious, but I stopped talking about it or judging people based on their approach to academia. I started joining the weekend/evening outings at times. I talked with people about things that weren’t education-related. And you know what? I’m still friends with quite a few of my classmates.
Change is pretty much the only constant in the world. The cells in our bodies die and new ones are produced, our faces and bodies change, seasons change, leaves fall off the trees, fashion changes, whole species become extinct. I could go on like this for a long, long time, but it’s quite pointless. You get my point – everything changes. Then why so many insist that our personality never should?
There is a difference, I feel, between people being mean to us (or, in more extreme cases, bullying us) and people simply not liking us. In the first case, it usually means they have a self-esteem (or basic human decency) problem. In the other, as I tried to illustrate in my own example, it’s usually us who have a problem.
And I still stand by the fact that we shouldn’t change for someone. But changing and becoming a nicer, better, more likeable person because we feel we don’t have enough friends, that’s not changing for someone else, that’s changing for yourself. Because, come to think about it, if you were happy being all alone, you wouldn’t even notice you’re alone, nor would you mind the lack of interest from other people. The fact that it bothers you means that there is something that can be changed. And, really, if something in your life bothers you, why not change it?
I know, sometimes it’s an issue of being different. You’re into some fandom not many people know about, you like your piercings, dress all kawaii, or trains are your whole life (I actually used to know a guy who was obsessed with train, it was all he would talk about. Guess how that worked out). In this case, finding group of friends, ones who share your interests might solve the problem. But you could also show the people in your environment that there is more to you than your appearance or main interest. That you’re not 1-dimentional, because you aren’t. People like things they know. Psychology has shown that the age-old ‘opposites attracts’ isn’t really true. People get together, or become friends, because they’re similar in one way or another. That’s why finding out that we share a passion or were born in the same city makes us immediately warm up to a newly met person.
In most cases, the key to having more friends lies not in actually changing, but in changing the way you behave around people. Trying to find something you have in common, and going from there. You might say it’s conforming to the society, or that it’s still changing, and that you shouldn’t have to do it, that people should like you for who you are. But, you know what, that’s bullshit. People around you aren’t your parents, or your family, they have no obligation to like you. It might sound harsh, but it’s so painfully true. There are, of course, people who will like you for who you are, but it’s because they are similar to you in one way or another. In a way, they don’t like you because of who you are, but because of who they are. So you can spend your life searching for those people that you’ll just ‘click’ with. Or you can try to conform a little bit, and make people like you. And you might actually realise that they’re much more fun than you initially thought, and you would have missed out if you didn’t change your ways a bit. That’s my experience, and I’m sure it’s not specific to just me.
But, coming back to change in general, it’s not at all bad. If anything, it can take us to interesting places. Because you can always change for the better. You can know more, be nicer, more helpful, a better cook, take better care of your body, be happier, smile more. There are so many little things you can change, which will add up to a big change over time. Of course, you can listen to the people telling you to never change, but will it actually be good for you?