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On Being Boring

I moved from London to Brussels with my husband nearly 10 years ago. When I told people we were moving, the news was greeted with bemusement: why did we want to move to a city that was possibly the most boring place on earth? Ten years later and I can honestly say that I've had more fun here than I ever did living in London. It might not be the most exciting city in the world but it is a fantastic place to live. It is full of hidden treasures that you probably never get to see as a tourist: wonderful shops, amazing food, great museums and galleries, beautiful architecture, a forest (yes, a whole forest), and so much more... And if that doesn't convince you, well, get on a train and you could be in Paris, Amsterdam, Cologne or, yes, London in no more than a couple of hours... Which other city can you say that about?

Life’s a Lesson

Blog every day in May, day 15: What is the single most important lesson you have ever had?

Not everyone has to like you.

Even well in to my 30s, I was convinced I had to get EVERYONE to like me. This is, to a certain extent, probably quite normal. Most people like the thought of being liked. Most people want other people to like them. But most people will also accept that there are some people you don’t really want in your lives. They’re either not nice people. Or they have very different values to yours. Or they’re a bad influence. These are the people that you don’t actively encourage friendships with. You don’t go out of your way to get them to like you. Because you don’t like them. But it took me nearly 35 years to learn that lesson.

For nearly 35 years, I thought I needed everyone to love me. Even people who were generally unpleasant or uncaring towards me. In fact, the meaner you were, the harder I’d try. I would even try to imitate these people, mirroring some of the nastiness or negativity, in the hope of… I don’t know… impressing them? Then, about 5 years ago something happened. I’m not sure what it was, but I remember very very clearly the moment I realized this behavior had to stop: I was sitting at my desk, at work, when an e-mail popped into my inbox. It was from an ex-colleague I hadn’t spoken to in at least a year. The message read “why did you change your profile photo on Linkedin? The new one is horrible”. That’s it. That’s all the email said. This was a colleague I had considered a friend, that I wanted to like me. I spent all day trying to think of a response, of a witty come-back. I even considered changing my photo again and apologizing. And then it hit me: what was I doing trying to get such an unpleasant person to like me?! How many other people was I playing this stupid game with? How many people had I given too many chances to? I decided to stop. I decided I didn’t want friends like that anymore. And I accepted that this decision might mean some people wouldn’t like me as much – or even at all. But I also realized, that was ok: not everyone has to like you.

It’s not always easy. There are people I’ve spent a lifetime trying to please. Old habits die hard. I often have to remind myself to walk away. Or at least to take a step back and let them decide if they want to move forward and bridge the gap. I don’t want to waste my time and energy on people who’d write to me just to tell me my profile picture is horrible. I’d much rather give it to some of the truly amazing, kind and caring people out there. My real friends.

16 May 2013 - 9:46 PM Adeline - Such a good idea Cass!!!!

16 May 2013 - 9:46 PM Adeline - We love you xxx

16 May 2013 - 9:51 PM Cass - And I love you. I'm so lucky to have you in my life xxx

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