The other day on my walk I was listening to a podcast where the speaker was talking — not entirely in jest — about handing out stickers with the message, “So it’s all about you ...” There are plenty of examples when this would be appropriate.

Like when you’re following driver’s ed protocol and leaving one car length between you and other vehicles when some maniacal driver whose time is clearly more important whips over into your lane and almost creates a pileup. No, sir, I want to say, I was not holding traffic back so you could more easily merge ahead of us all.

And when I notice someone pulling out of a parking space without checking for oncoming cars so I stop to avoid a collision, I wasn’t just being polite in hopes of parking there once you exit.

But it’s all relative, isn’t it?

Someone driving perilously close to our back bumper us can bring out the ire, but flip it around where we’re forced to slow down behind another driver and we forget all about turning the other cheek and doing unto others. Why? Because it’s all about us. 

I once had a job where I was lavished with praise when they called to say I’d been hired. Oh, they couldn’t gush enough about my skills and talents and how fortunate they were to have me. It wasn’t too long after working there that I saw a different side emerge. Griping. Complaining. Compliments disappeared. Suddenly I was lucky they “let” me work there. It went from, “We want YOU” to “Stop being you!”

The experience provided a lightbulb moment. I realized a direct parallel between jobs and relationships.

In my case, this replicated similar situations where this had also happened. Some guy lavishing me with praise and comments of how wonderful I was, only to later proceed to try to change everything about me.

The point is, whenever the new wears off, we all show our true colors. Sometimes we accept one another’s flaws and faults; sometimes we get annoyed and try to make them over.

What I have come to realize, though, is it’s one thing to politely suggest responsibilities of a job or things you’d prefer in a relationship. But ultimately, whether it’s a boss or a boyfriend, anyone who tries to berate us into being his royal subject, dismantle our character or destroy our personality, well, that’s hurtful and mean.

A dear friend once pointed out something to me after yet another failed attempt at a relationship with the wrong person for me. First of all, she gently suggested that I shouldn’t settle for trinkets along the way when God had a wonderful gift for me. But beyond that, she also passed along the wisdom that changed the course of my life and stays with me to this day.

“You draw people to you,” she said. “So don’t lose who you are just to please someone else.”

The point is, hold onto the gift that is you. If others, and I mean anyone — boss, friend, potential relationship partner — mistreats you and cajoles you into giving up those things about you, think a moment. Then run.

No matter what job you have in the physical sense, the bottom line is the role of being you can’t be recast. So get up and do you. Be you.

Those who are most capable of appreciating it, of unconditional love, will be capable of appreciating what you have to offer.