Being Okay With Being Unpopular

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This is the first in a series of brilliant guest posts that will be appearing on the blog while I’m in Italy. Let’s roll out the welcome mat for Jess – leave your thoughts/ experiences/ questions in the comments below. I’ll be checking back in, but in the meantime, enjoy!

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What’s with this incessant need we have to want everyone in the world to like us? It’s obviously an impossible feat, and yet we feel icky whenever we’re faced with someone who is critical of us, who disagrees with us, or who speaks badly of us. Even if we don’t know the person slinging the negative remarks, criticism can leave us with knotted stomachs and self-doubt for days.

Smack bang in the middle of a particularly tough week on the blogosphere, one of my readers sent me a TEDx talk by someone named Erika Napoletano called Rethinking Unpopular. It was just the medicine I needed to soothe my bruised ego, and console me enough to see the beauty in the situation – both in the humility it was affording me, and also in the perspective it gave me.

This talk made me realise that being unpopular is not a bad thing – especially now that we’re no longer in high school. Being unpopular as an adult means that we’re being authentic. It means that we’re being so loyal to who we are that we’re not willing to morph into something else just to please other people. And this authenticity is what’s going to deliver us all of the goods life has to offer.

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“There will always be naysayers. If everyone agrees with you, you’re doing it wrong. But then again, if everyone disagrees with you, you just might be doing it wrong, too.” ~ Erika Napoletano

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Sure, being authentic and speaking out in the face of naysayers may rock the boat, but that’s good. Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone just agreed with each other and no one had the audacity to challenge someone else’s ideas? We’d all be completely ignorant to the fact that the world is round and that perhaps it’s not such a great idea to smoke while pregnant.

As Erika says in her talk, being unpopular is all about honouring your two most important relationships – the relationship you have with those who love you for everything you are and everything you’re not, and the relationship with yourself. Nothing else matters. We can’t please everyone (this is a cliché for a reason), and there’s no way around that. We may all come from the same source, but we’re all made up of different cells and we’re all results of different conditioning.

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“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” ~ Dita Von Teese

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Being a blogger, I have something to say. This is the case with every blogger. If it weren’t, our websites would simply be filled with pages and pages of cat videos. But even this would spark critical comments from those weirdos who don’t like cats. Some days I’ll post something that’s met with a round of virtual applause from all directions, and then just when my ego starts to get ahead of itself I’ll be brought back down to earth with comments alluding to the idea that perhaps I have no idea what I’m talking about. It’s humbling. But without keeping a healthy perspective, it could also make me want to close my whole site down and hide away.

If you have something to say, please say it. It’s an incredible disservice to the world when you play it safe for the sake of pleasing the masses, and you have no idea of the potentially great impact you could have by being true to yourself and being your gorgeous, shining, authentic self. Be okay with being unpopular.

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Jess Ainscough is a writer, speaker, health coach and cancer kickin’ Wellness Warrior. As the creator of The Wellness Warrior, Jess writes daily articles on courage, kindness, self-respect — as well as practical how-to’s for shopping, cooking, juicing and nourishing your body. She is also the creator of the revolutionary guide to mind-body reinvention, The Wellness Warrior Lifestyle Transformation Guide. This year, Jess will have her first book published with Hay House called Make Peace With Your Plate: How To End Your Tortured Relationship With Food.

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OVER TO YOU…

Have you ever experienced a backlash when you’ve gone against popular opinion (whether that’s on your blog, at work, or in conversation?) Ever stayed quiet on an issue to “keep the peace?”

Share your stories below.

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18 Comments to “Being Okay With Being Unpopular”

  1. I love the timing of this fabulous post. I can relate very well. In my non-virtual life I tend to have large opinions and get worried about bringing those to my online life but this brings it all back into perspective. Beautiful words, Jess. Thanks for the post ladies xo PS Rach: OH.MY.GOSH I hope you are living it up Italian style, lovely ;)

  2. While I’m sad not to get my weekly dose of Rach, I am so excited for the guest writers over the next few weeks!

    I’m learning to be more authentic and okay with being ‘unpopular’ – but I do struggle with it. I feel like we’re so ingrained with getting on with people and making people like us when we’re growing up that it can be hard to shake this and just say ‘screw it’! But I am learning and growing, slowly.

    Thanks for the great post Jess! (and Rach, have a gelato for me :P).

  3. I once contributed a piece to Jezebel (www.jezebel.com — a spinoff of Gawker), thinking not much of it. Not long after, I got an email from a friend: “DON’T LOOK AT THE COMMENTS ON YOUR JEZ PIECE.” I got a phone call from my husband saying the same. In total, by the end of the day, the piece had racked up over 300 comments saying that I was a spoiled brat who used an experience of rape to get attention. That was hideously painful, but I listened to my loved ones and did not look at the comments. People can be really awful sometimes.

  4. Oh no, looks like the comment I posted earlier hasn’t posted – damn hotel Internet!

  5. Jacq: Glad this one hit the spot for you honey, Jess is definitely a shining example of someone living her life unapologetically (and I love her for it!) No question it can be scary (at first) to “go there” with blogging, but damn it’s good to see it in action. Go girl x

    Sophie: Ahh, but of course. It’s ingrained in us humans to seek validation and confirmation that we’re doing OK. Bravo for witnessing where there is space to streeeetch, beautiful. x

    Esme: High fiving you through the interwebs right now. I’m so SO sorry to hear about the (mindless, nasty, hurtful) comments, particularly given the sensitivity of the topic, but seriously inspired by the way you handled it, even though I can imagine it was Tough with a capital T not to check.

    Hurt people hurt people, unfortunately – however, I have no doubt your bravery was appreciated by the people that needed to hear your words most… those that may not have wanted to comment (for fear of the attack turning to them).

    Keep shining… oh and LOVE your blog, thank you for stopping by and giving me a chance to discover you. x

  6. I really struggle to write like no one’s watching. It’s very difficult at times to switch off that internal ‘audience-barometer’ that worries about being liked and what people will think of what I write and that is scared of being rejected. But I swear to God, my best writing – and the stuff readers seem to connect with the most – is when I manage to transcend (or, umm, momentarily ignore) that noisy worrying voice and just goddamn write it anyway… X

  7. Absolutely! I remember when I began reading Silvia Hartmann’s The Genius Symbols book and there was a part saying something along the lines of “You must be willing to stand by your discoveries, in the face of everyone else saying that you’re wrong”. That was a real trigger for a lot of things that had meant it was easier to agree with the crowd. Nowadays I’d rather be wrong and believe in my message, as alien as it feels at times, than agree to be cool or right. I’m starting to see that the people that I once was alien to DO actually come around in their own time!

  8. Very well written Jess and like many of your other followers, fabulous timing!! As I get older I realise this very thing, that not everyone is going to like you or what you do or believe in. But that’s ok! And what you said was very true, it keeps us authentic and true to ourselves and our own values. Peer pressure to become one of the ‘in crowd’ is over and even morphing into someone you really don’t want to be is so unfulfilling and you will never feel complete. Thank you for your honesty! :)

  9. What an amazing post. “If you have something to say, please say it” is going straight to my inspiration board!

    I tried veganism for three years with ethical motivations. After 3 years if not feeling right I decided to incorporate a bit ofeat back into my diet. But my blog had built a bit of an animal rights following and I had vegan recipes on there. I felt that I needed to hide the fact that I wasn’t vegan anymore and it made me feel like I had a split personality. I felt I wasn’t being authentic to my readers.

    I got too tired of charades and wrote an honest blog post about it. I did receive some backlash but loads of people also thanked me for being honest and almost giving them permission to listen to their bodies rather than stigma surrounding dietary choices.

    Now I still feature mostly vegan recipes but occasionally some meat. While some animal rights people no longer associate with me others love that I’m not doing the all or nothing approach.

    Finally getting real has made me feel so much more grounded and this post added to it. Thanks Jess, you’re a hero!

  10. Love the post Jess!

    We all need a little reminder sometimes that not everyone is going to agree with our beliefs! And that can be really difficult to accept.

    I truly believe that we are unique, special and one-of-a-kind in our own way! It’s our job to just allow that weird/quirky/nerdy/whatever-ness shine out from within.

    Having chosen an unconventional career path to most, I’ve noticed that some people have a problem with me not doing what they are. And that’s OK. They’re also entitled to their own beliefs.

    However, I think it just takes a bit of courage to really listen to that little voice within – that knows us to our core.

    If we follow our hearts with passion…I don’t believe we can ever go wrong! Even if that means going against the crowd. It’s usually more fun anyway :)

    Thanks for your inspiration!

    Rachel X

  11. I love this post.

    In only a short few months I’ve noticed my voice change to be ‘more me’, knowing I’m not going to appeal to everyone and being totally okay with that. The plus side in all this: I feel amazing, I feel me, I want to write more, blog more, dream more and as Julie Parker said abundance follows authenticity so be you, f*ck the haters and know the universe will reward you :)

  12. Thank you for this post. I struggle with criticism, even pre-empting criticism that isn’t there, and when it does happen I get that exact knotted stomach feeling. The funny thing is that I blog about such an uncontroversial subject – sewing! – but even that still brings the occasional nastiness out in the minority.

    What has helped me personally to keep on blogging authentically when I just want to curl up into a ball is reminding myself that I am blogging for a very particular target readership, and that the haters and naysayers are not my target readers – and, quite frankly, I don’t want them as readers! So I can ignore them!

  13. Such a timely post! Maybe because it’s right what I’m in the middle of right now…or maybe because it’s what we all face everyday.

    Sometimes I feel like it’s just me who thinks this way! Let me just “out” my shit right now because I’m so in the middle of thinking what others will think of me. “I don’t have enough followers on FB! What will people think about me?? I don’t write as good as her….She has better videos than me!” THERE! I said it, and I’m leaving it at the alter (can this be my alter? Yes? Thank you!)

    Thank you darling friend for leveling with us all! Hugs and love!

  14. I am only new to this blogging business and I am completely cool if I have 0 comments. Just having the ability to share information for free is enough to satisfy me. There are many unheard voices in this world that don’t have the freedom to speak up so I can’t help but be grateful that I have the ability to do so. Even if it is about cats.

  15. Brilliantly written, and so very true! Thank you for daring to be unpopular! It’s vital that we only be who we were created to be, and not worry about who everyone else wants us to be.

  16. Great post =)

    I watched the TED talk from Erika Napoletano and loved it from the get-go!
    We are all guilty of letting others’ opinions sway and impact our decisions/actions and it can take great courage to be confident enough to go against the grain. But as Elizabeth said, abundance follows authenticity – so forget the rest!

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