Thursday, February 01, 2007

Letter from a friend

No. I am not feeling bad today. But on a day when I was - - when I really needed a friend who could identify, I recieved a letter from a friend -- this letter. The letter is part of a book I Mother Superior asked me to write about my life called "Congratulations your child is a boy and a girl." But just because I am not feeling bad today doesn't mean I might not tommorow or someone else out there who reads this is feeling bad about themselves today. So here is the letter (used in my book by permission) from a friend...


Hi Julie,
Please don't feel badly because a few people dislike you. Like you, I am also a sensitive person and want people to like me, but it's unrealistic to expect everybody to like you. That just doesn't happen. People don't like me because I'm:
female,
black,

not black enough,
have light skin,
have dark skin,
have short hair,
have long hair,
wear make-up,
wear modest clothes,
wear revealing clothes,
wear clothes,
Buddhist,
not a "real" Buddhist
not Christian,
not Muslim,
not Jewish,
not "born again",
American,
not a "real" American,
divorced,
educated,
under-educated,
not prejudiced,
Democrat,
dated White guys,
dated Black guys,
dated Hispanic guys,
dated Asian guys,
dated guys,
from the West Side
don't live on the West Side,
don't live on the South Side,
live in the city,
don't live in the city,
work for the government,
work in a white collar job,
work,
independent,
able to think for myself,
overweight,
socialize with friends,
don't socialize with the right friends,
attractive,
unattractive,
square,
hip,
nerdy,
brainy,
cool,
uncool,
wear fur,
don't eat red meat,
have food to eat,
over 21,
over 40,
over 50,
over the hill,
yada yada yada

Now, given this long list of horrendous faults, can you imagine how much time I spend worrying about it? NONE AT ALL! The folks who dislike me don't pay my rent and don't sleep in my bed; therefore, they can individually and collectively go jump in the lake.
You cannot change how others perceive you. Don't forget that if people dislike you, that is THEIR problem, not yours!!!!

During the 1950's before the Civil Rights movement, some black people thought they would be accepted (liked) if they changed how others viewed them. They moved to the suburbs, bought foreign cars, got little French poodles, learned to play golf, listened to classical music, sent their kids to finishing school, stopped eating soul food, accumulated stock portfolios, and distanced themselves from their roots. So what happened next? NOBODY liked them! White folks called them "uppity n------s" and black folks called them "saditty n-----s". (If you're not familiar with the term "saditty", it's black slang for arrogant, bourgeois, stuck-up, phony, and pretentious.) Perhaps a better route would have been to focus on just being themselves, which came along a generation later.

It's human nature to focus on the negative. We quickly forget the multitudes of polite people who say "please" and "thank you" and "excuse me" "have a nice day" and smile at us every day, but we will always remember the one rude boor who snarled at us in 1978. Try to activate your Buddha nature by understanding (1) the boor's behavior is because he feels badly and needs someone to dump on, (2) saying a prayer for the boor's happiness, and (3) appreciate the kind people who outnumber the boor a million to one.

As I mentioned earlier, there are over three billion people on the planet, so the few who dislike you are in an infinitesimally tiny minority. I tried figuring out the percentage of 100 people who have an attitude versus 3 billion who don't, but the calculator went into "overflow" mode. In other words, this shiny whiz-bang computer was incapable of computing numbers that small!
Everyone wants to be liked, but everyone is not going to be liked by everyone. It's sad but true, and you should not waste any energy feeling badly because someone else has their head up their rear end. Enjoy the beauty of the whole garden instead of crying because one tiny petal on one tiny blossom on one tiny plant is shriveled.

2 comments:

bryanthmsn said...

I found your site while Googling 'Margaret of Costello'

Here's a saying that I've taken to heart...

Whatever you think of me is none of my business

Bryan

Abby said...

I found your site while googling for the Men in Black people quote. I decided to read further and found this letter. I remember I was in my 30's before I finally got this concept and wished I had gotten it much sooner. I know that I cannot please everyone or make everyone happy and I don't need to. That realization has made me a better parent, a better person, and given me the freedom to be myself but living so long for others, I still need to discover myself.