I have a confession: I was a major social pariah back when I was in school. I was the kid who would do anything just to have a friend in high school or college, and would go to extreme lengths to be considered “cool.” After I actually became popular post-high school, I also learned that trying too hard almost always comes off as awkward, desperate, and attention-seeking.
Making crazy grabs for attention and acknowledgement is also known as trying too hard to fit in. Trying too hard, without a doubt, is the easiest way to isolate yourself. If you relate to any of these things, it’s time to scale things back a little and relax.
- You’ve wasted whole paychecks on trendy clothes with the sole purpose of getting people to notice you in mind. Speaking as someone who has a naturally ostentatious sense of style, there’s definitely a difference you can see between a person who dresses the way they do because they like it, and a person who dresses the way to do to appear edgier, cooler, or richer than they really are. If you find yourself trying to dress up in ways that look downright comical, or like eery single model who’s trotted the New York Fashion Week runways, then you’re trying too hard. It’s better to be authentic than to be a fashion victim.
- You’ve made up stories to make you seem cooler than you really are. Trust me, sweetie, no one believes that you were chilling with Kanye West last weekend, nor do they believe that you have an oxygen bar in your room. If you’re all talk and no walk, no one will want to deal with you. If you actually do have walk to support your talk, the truth will eventually come out, and people will eventually come around.
- You name drop… a lot. When you’re the name dropper, you don’t realize that it often comes across as insecure and awkward, especially if you do it on a regular basis. When you’re the person who’s been name dropped, your first instinct will be to ask them why they hang out with you, and what’s wrong with them. No one wants to be with someone who props themselves up through the accomplishments of acquaintances.
- You regularly do favors for people who treat you like crap, and you have a problem saying no. A clear sign of someone who tries too hard to make people like them is someone who will sacrifice their self-esteem and well-being in order to please others. Make no mistake about it; doormats are always trying too hard.
- There have been times where you’ve practically begged someone to invite you somewhere. Trying too hard to be part of the “cool crowd” almost always involves fishing for invites, begging to tag along, and even more cringeworthy, a look of desperation whenever you hear them talking about future plans. In fact, if you’ve gotten to the point where you’re regularly trying to crash parties, you might have even flat-out asked people why they don’t invite you.
- Legit, you can’t relax around people. Are you always jittery about how you appear to people? If you can’t relax and enjoy yourself around others, you’re legitimately trying way too hard to make them like you.
- You’re always the one who reaches out to people, and you’re constantly making yourself available. This is a less desperate version of begging people to hang out. If you’re always the one initiating contact, then it’s clear that the people who you’re talking to probably aren’t really interested in continuing a friendship. It’s better to move on than to try to salvage something that isn’t working out.
- Standards? What are those? If you’re hanging out with literally anyone who approaches you, you might be trying too hard. This is especially true if you actually kinda hate the person you’re talking to, or if you’re dating anyone who approaches you. Not everyone deserves friendship, and that’s something that you’re going to have to learn.
- Others have told you that you’re too clingy, that you need to take things down a notch, or that you need to stop obsessing over what others think of you. Most of the time, people will not have the courage to confront you on bad behavior because they don’t like having awkward conversations about the matter. They don’t want to feel like the bad guy for saying it. If it gets to the point where people have confronted you about your behavior, or have actually told you that they don’t feel comfortable introducing you to new friends, then you’re almost certainly trying way too hard.
- You’ve lied about what you like doing, what you’re comfortable with, or what you’re interested in as a way to gain approval. This always backfires, and will do little more than make your life your own personal hell. Why would you be okay with being liked for being someone that isn’t you? It’s also a sign that you may be a people-pleaser, which can easily snowball into bigger issues in a short matter of time.
- You’ve repeatedly bragged about accomplishments or repeatedly turned the conversation into a topic about you. It’s been often said that no one likes a braggart. People also don’t dig people who regularly try to impress people by constantly talking about accomplishments. There’s nothing wrong with occasionally tooting your own horn, but when every single conversation turns into you boasting or fishing for compliments, you’ve got a problem.
- As a way to gain approval in a group, you’ve slept with someone or dated someone you had no interest in. If you’ve gone this far just so that you can have approval or try to earn friends, then trying too hard isn’t the biggest problem you have.
- You’ve crashed parties and hoped that no one would notice. Though there may be some people who will be totally alright with crashing a party, almost no host wants to deal with someone uninvited coming over. This is especially true if you’ve already asked for an invitation to the party and gotten rejected.
- Despite all the warnings that tell you otherwise, you’ve tried to buy friends and romantic partners. Just as that Beatles song said, money never will be able to buy you real love. If you’ve actually bribed people just to hang out with you, then it’s a clear sign that you’ve tried way too hard, hit rock bottom, and now reek of desperation. Save yourself the pain, and save your money for something that actually will benefit you.
- One single criticism will shut you down. We all have those moments of insecurity that just make us break, but when it literally takes a flippant critique or insult to shut you down, you’re way too focused on what others think. Incidentally, making enemies is typically a sign that you’re headed in the right direction, so if anything, you should love that people even bothered to insult you.
In reality, you really can’t force someone to be friends with you, approve of you, or even like you. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you’ll end up being hated. It’s often best to just go with the flow, and reciprocate positive gestures when they do happen. Besides, hanging out with people who don’t appreciate your efforts is a waste of your time, too, and you deserve better than that.