A while back I had a situation. Something not real flattering that I’d heard.

About me.

And it slowly drifted my direction the way these things always do.

And I cried.

Now, I have a few years behind me—and sure, I remember things like this happening to different girls back in high school—but it was my first experience dealing with it as an adult, even as a writer. And so I did the only thing I knew to do in this situation. I called my mom.

We talked for a while that day, and she told me a lot of things. But the thing I remember the most was when she paused the conversation and said, “You know Aim, I’m going to tell you what your great-grandmother said to me when I dealt with something like this years ago. You can’t make people love you. So stop trying so hard.”

I quit breathing for a second. Those words punched me straight in the chest.

You can’t make people love you.

When I look back, I realize I’ve spent most of my life believing the opposite. If I just smile enough, care enough, am kind enough, am interested enough, do enough, be enough, love enough. Then nothing bad will ever happen. Then everyone will be happier. Then my enemies list will be short…maybe non-existent.

I’ve thought about her words a lot lately, and my great-grandmother was right. She was a kind, gentle, unassuming, smart, and well-liked woman in our little town. And the idea that a single person might not have seen all her great qualities is preposterous to me. But I guess someone out there didn’t. And she dealt with it with grace and wisdom and zero bitterness. And that is a great way to be. And those are some wise, wise words.

You can’t make people love you.

All you can do is your part.

If someone says “hi”, say “hi” back. If someone smiles at you, smile back. If someone waves, wave back. If someone texts you, text back. If someone calls you, call back. If someone asks how you’re doing, ask back. If someone cares about you, care back. If someone gives to you, give back. If someone loves you, love back. And do these things consistently. And do these things always.

Even better, be the one to initiate. Go first. Care more. Give more. Love more.

That’s your part. That’s doing your best.

Do these things not to get, but to give.

And if unflattering things happen, or if unkind things are said, or if someone just refuses to like you…it’s not because of you. It’s just because.

You can’t make people love you.

But you can love anyway.

amy matayo signature