People Pleaser

“You can please some of the people all of the time. You can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”

-John Lydgate… but Abraham Lincoln was the one who made this quote famous.

I love this quote. Take my blog for example. A few weeks ago I wrote a post about my birthday and how I felt that life is actually getting better with age. My brother was the first one to read the post and said, “I didn’t like this week’s blog post.” When I asked him why, he said that he didn’t feel it was an accurate depiction of my life. He said it made me sound like I wasn’t happy for most of my life.

Naturally I became defensive. 

Either he misread the intention of my blog. Or I didn’t articulate my feelings well enough. Or I am not grateful enough for the life I have had. Or I have rewritten my own emotional history. 

Of course, I started to second guess my birthday reflections. Then I started questioning my ability to write. Then I started questioning my ability to appreciate everything. Yes, it took me down a rabbit hole. (It doesn’t take much to do that.)

Following the birthday blog, I received the following texts, emails, and comments:

  •  Happy belated birthday my friend. I absolutely loved your blog… it really resonated with me!!!

  • I am so glad that you have found real happiness for yourself. You deserve it.

  • The piece you wrote was terrific. Of course the subject is very much on my mind… and I am sure others in this category.

  • I agree!! Happy Birthday & thanks for the post. We think alike :-)

  • That was so right on the money! Thank you for sharing this.

  • I can totally relate. 

So, of course, I sent these “reviews” to my brother to tell him that he was “wrong” about my birthday post. But then I realized that neither of us were wrong or right. 

Writing a weekly anecdotal blog is always going to resonate differently with different people. For example, I have one friend who likes the ones where I write about food and nutrition. Who doesn’t like a blog post with a title like, I Really Miss French Fries? It turns out my brother doesn’t. He actually called me after that one and said, “Enough about food already.” LOL. 

One of my friends likes the posts where I write about my struggles with my imperfections. 

Another friend likes when I write about the television business. 

A few of my male readers favor the ones I write about marriage and raising a teenage daughter. 

My sister likes the blog posts about our family. 

My oldest brother was an English major (and a bit of a literary snob), so I am sure my colloquial writing and loose punctuation gives him major anxiety. But his favorite posts are when I tell a story with an "O’Henry” ending.

My other brother only likes the blog posts that specifically mention him. 

So when I write, I just have to remember that I can’t please everyone. But isn’t that a great reminder for life? It literally applies to everything: What you wear. What you say. What you like. What you don’t like. So the lesson is that as long as we’re not hurting someone else, and it makes YOU happy, then do it. 

Except when it comes to making dinner tonight… because I have a family full of picky eaters.

And I still try to please everyone, but I will save that for another blog post.