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The Need To Be Accepted, Belong, Loved

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Aristotle said, “Man is by nature a social animal.” Another saying goes, “No man is an island.” In one sense or another, they both dictate that we, as, people need other people. We, as people, want to be loved. In many ways, they highlight the need for society: a man-made construct without which living would perhaps cease to exist.

Being social and thus being part of a group is part of our DNA. Millions and millions of years ago when man was a hunter (not that people aren’t hunters anymore, they are hunters in a different sense), there was only one way to survive – in a collective. Whether it was to pool resources or fight the sabre-toothed tiger, one needed to belong. In those times, it made perfect sense. But does that mean that technological advancements and civilization have cancelled out the need to belong? The answer is a strong no. If anything, a civilization that allows individuals ‘individuality’ in the first place has strengthened the desire to belong with others.

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Even as society lives in fragments, in broken up families, we continue to feel the same pressures. Besides it being embedded in our DNA, solitary living is unfulfilling. It would be a boring existence, to say the least. Aristotle even went as far as saying that it’s unnatural to want to be alone. And if a man did, in fact, want to be alone he was either beneath our notice or more than human. So to conclude, any normal person wants to belong and have a place in society. But why is it so that people are also “needy”? Needy to be liked, loved, accepted- needy to “fit in”?

Why Are We The Way We Are

The simplest answer is that people are scared. People, by nature, are scared of everything: the dark, reptiles, needles, the world ending, so it is not far-fetched that they would be scared of being alone. Some people are born that way, some people didn’t have the feeling of belonging in their childhood so they crave it elsewhere; some are even loved too much, so they think they deserve more. It’s just the way we are wired, and most of the time it’s okay to have this innate sense. But over the years, this neediness has exponentially grown inside us.

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We have become obsessed with the notion of being liked by everyone and needing to be perfect. 

Is this wrong?

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No.

Is it healthy?

No.

Popularity plays right in the hands of this. With the growing use of social media, being popular and being liked has become quantifiable. Now our brain thinks that having a thousand followers means being loved by a thousand people. This is tomfoolery. Nonetheless, we believe because that’s another thing humans love to do- believe. We like to believe in Santa Claus, unicorns, and even that Harry Potter might be real.  

People think that the only way to be accepted is to shapeshift into an “ideal” specimen. This pressure to be perfect often comes from inside. But this desire is stretched to unattainable extremes by what we see around us.

Now, the standards for perfection are evolving every day – all thanks to social media. So we try our fatal best to ‘monkey see, monkey do’. While some aren’t affected by how popular they are/aren’t, others are, sometimes severely so. Such people risk it all in an attempt to be liked. They’ll let people walk all over them. And it sadly almost always backfires. 

Give Up On The Need To Be Loved

It is ludicrous to believe that everyone can love us let alone like us. There’s a saying, that goes that not everything can be our cup of tea. Similarly, we can’t be everyone’s cup of tea. All people aren’t wired the same way, and maybe it’s prejudice, but some people just won’t like you. And that’s okay. We are who we are. We aren’t obliged to change ourselves from head to toe just to appeal to everyone – that’s just impossible. Everyone is different – in who they are and what they like; and just the way you can’t like everyone, not everyone can like you. This inherent compulsion to be a “people pleaser” is unhealthy and borderline sociopathic.

I mean Jesus only had twelve followers. And today, unarguably, he’s a pretty popular guy. So don’t let numbers fool you.

But it’s important to understand that you can be popular and yet be unlikeable. Politicians are often individuals, who on the outside are popular but often deeply hated. Life is annoyingly short, it’s better to not waste it on being anything but you. I mean, the sabre-toothed tiger might not exist anymore but the guilt of lying to yourself will eventually eat you up. Don’t make Aristotle feel that he should have theorized “Man by nature is a needy social animal.”

Read more editorials here.

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