Obinze’s wife, Kosi in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah was one character I did not like. She was a people pleaser. She strived so hard to be perfect. At home, she tried to create the ideal family life. At social events, her constant effort to please everyone was sickening. She was a good wife to Obinze but she lacked the vitality that would have complimented Obinze’s calm, deep personality. Even when it was clear that her man was cheating, she kept her head firmly buried in sand. She eventually lost her man to Ifemelu.
Kosi’s character spoke to me even though I did not like her. A lot of people go through life as people pleasers. They try so hard to please everyone. They can never say “No”. Eventually, they learn the hard lesson that you can’t please the world. Sometimes, I wonder why they try. The life of a people pleaser is a life of pretence; a life of compromise. You achieve nothing when you keep compromising. Everyone won’t like you still. But even worse is the fact that you won’t like yourself. Besides, if most people pleasers are honest with themselves, they’ll admit that they don’t like half the people whose approval they seek. Unfortunately, they can’t help themselves. They have two major problems, they lack confidence in themselves and they are scared of rejection. So, they keep searching for external validation of their worth from others and they keep trying to win everyone’s affection. Needless to say, the people pleasing life is a tiring and incredibly boring life. It’s not even healthy. Like the character, Kosi, people pleasers end up losing out on the best things in life. That’s because we stop living when we mortgage our happiness to other people’s approval. We shut the door on a lot of possibilities too. So investing so much time and energy in that kind of life is pointless.
I’ll conclude with a few words for people with this bad habit. It’s perfectly okay if we don’t like everyone and if everyone doesn’t like us. Learn to love yourself and to build your confidence. Master the art of saying no. Learn to say it with conviction if you’re tired or uncomfortable with a situation. It’s your right. Let go of people who take advantage of your people-pleasing nature. They are usually selfish people. Most importantly, be you. Stand by your values. Embrace your strength and accept your weaknesses. You’ll be more content; your life will be worthwhile and you’ll certainly find people who will like and accept you just the way you are.