I knocked my glasses off my face in a moment of Zumba intensity Monday morning.
It was awesome.
My inner Latina stopped her twisty moves and bent down, doubled over in laughter. The instructor held her hand to her mouth and tried not to lock eyes with me in the mirrors. And the woman beside me – whom I’d also nearly hit in this moment of aerobic ecstasy – walked up to her friend in the front row, whispered in her ear and pointed back at me.
Were I 25 years younger, this would have become my “Most Embarrassing Moment Ever,” the one I wrote in to Teen magazine to try and win the $25 publishing prize.
But then the whispering woman did the most curious thing. She walked up to me. She put her arm around me. She started laughing, and she said, “You know what? I like you!”
And I told her I sure liked her in reply.
I suppose it hit me at that moment: there’s something to hearing – literally hearing someone say those three sacred words – I like you.
Most of us, if we’re lucky, get to hear the all-important I love you on a regular basis. My babies say it in a drunkenly slurring sort of way, and the HBH (Hot Black Husband) says it and means it on a regular basis. Elmo says it on Sesame Street, and Gaga says it like she’s a broken record player when we call her on FaceTime.
But I don’t always hear I like you on a regular basis.
Maybe it speaks to my seventh grade self, the one that passed notes to all of her best friends between classes like the Easter Bunny passes out chocolate replicas of his bunny self over resurrection weekend.
I like you. Do you like me? Check yes. Check no. Check maybe so.
Saying I like you seemed to roll off our tongues. It’s just what we said and did, maybe because we knew saying I love you actually came with series consequences. Those words couldn’t be taken lightly. But apparently I heard the former phrase enough to gain a “positive self esteem” that eventually carried me through life.
So when a stranger at the gym, someone I’ve spoken a mere ten words to in my short Monday morning Zumba career, and whom I’ve only interacted with in passing, pulled me close to her and whispered it in my ear, it sparked something in me.
Maybe she likes me because I make her laugh. Maybe she likes me because I don’t take myself – or others – too seriously. Maybe she just likes me for me.
When someone pulls us close and whispers these sacred words, we’re reminded that we matter, that we have meaning, that who we are at our core is good and necessary and just plain likable. We’re liked with all our quirks and mannerisms, with all those things that make us us, that separate us from the gang, that make us unique and individual. We’re liked for us.
So, let’s do this: let’s first of all believe that we’re likable ourselves – I like you, I like you, I like you! See, didn’t you need to hear that?
And then, let’s tell someone else they’re likable today. See it. Name it. Claim it.
Will you join me?
Hey! I like you. Isn’t that just good to hear sometimes? Believe it.