McKenna asks: My friends and my family always make fun of anything I like because I like stuff that almost no one else does. I know that I should not care what anyone else thinks, but it hurts when they make fun of the things I like. Also my mom always thinks that I’m too old for this stuff, so she won’t let me get anything I like because she thinks its dumb. How am I supposed to ignore them when it’s all I can think about?
Hi McKenna –
This world would be a lot easier and more fun if everyone would just accept that not everyone likes the same things, and that that’s okay (as long as no one’s being hurt or taken advantage of).
I deal with this all the time. Handsome thinks about 99% of what I like is just fine. He loves watching me run, he loves feeding me dinner and treats, he loves that I love him and other people. But when I smell some really fragrant cat poop and find it delightful to roll in and eat, he’s downright intolerant! He washes me off with soap, and makes me sleep outside till my breath goes back to normal! Really, he’s my favorite person in the world, but at moments like that, he’s kind of a jerk!
At the same time, believe it or not, Handsome has had a number of friends (and especially girlfriends – you know, the sort of friends where they hug and kiss and all that?) who have serious problems with how much he likes me! “What’s the big deal? She’s just a dog!” “What’s wrong with you, are you in love with that dirty mutt?” “You don’t let it near food, do you?” People are just funny that way!
The problem for you is, like Handsome’s problems with his friends and girlfriends, you can’t just ignore them. Here’s something you really like, and here’s someone who’s super-important in your life (even your mom!) saying that you shouldn’t like it. That’s completely crazy-making!
So, to answer your question… You Can’t. It’s impossible to ignore those people. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still pursue what you love. It just means it’ll take a bit more work.
First of all, you’ll need to accept that your interest is yours alone, for the moment. And yet, at the same time, there’s a huge world out there with 7 billion people in it, and I can pretty much promise you that, whatever it is you’re interested in, there are lots of other humans out there who share that interest. You just need to accept that it might take time for you to find them.
And secondly, you need to start working on your Diplomacy skills. What do I mean by that? Well, your mother loves you, and wants the best for you, but she simply doesn’t understand your love of this stuff. But have you ever sat her down and tried to explain it to her? Have you ever put it into terms she’d understand? For example, when Handsome was a teenager, his parents absolutely couldn’t stand the voice of his favorite singer. They’d beg him to turn his music down or off, and tell him how lousy that voice was. So Handsome went around the voice. He would play them songs by that artist, but sung by other people, or by himself – in ways they could “hear” it better. Or he’d just read them his lyrics as poetry. And that way they at least would understand what he loved about the singer – even though they still couldn’t stand the voice.
Could you do something like that? Could you find a way to get your mom to understand your love of these things? And your friends? It’s okay that they wouldn’t love them the way you do, but if they could just understand a bit, they’d be more accepting.
But in the long run, you’ll find that it’s absolutely great that you love something others don’t. It will tell people so much about you, about your heart, about what you’re really like.
If you want to see a wonderful story about just this issue, check out an old movie called “Breaking Away.” It’s wonderful and funny, and should encourage you a lot to Pursue Your Passion, no matter what!
Hmm… speaking of that, I just noticed a cat climbing over the fence from our yard… I wonder if he left me any gifts…!
All my best,