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By Sandy Rodriguez

There’s an easy way to drastically minimize the likelihood of ever being judged or criticized.

All you have to do is be very boring, dull, and drab. Very forgettable.

If you don’t want to be boring, dull, drab, and forgettable, I’m sorry, but like it or not, you might attract haters. I am not referring to violent or discriminatory individuals. Those types of people need to be reported and a safety plan can be implemented. When I say hater, I am referring to people with too much time on their hands who seem to enjoy criticizing and arguing, either online or in person, for the sheer entertainment value, just to have something to do. Maybe they gossip about you in the office or make snide comments on your social media.

Being successful tends to attract this type of hater. So does being famous, outspoken, wealthy, beautiful, interesting, sexy, or an independent thinker. Standing out in any way—even in a good way— could earn you a hater or two.

Because of this, being on the receiving end of someone’s dislike could be taken as validation, even as an indirect compliment. Haters don’t ignore you. You are often on their mind and stir up feelings in them. Strangely, even if they say they dislike you, your ideas, or what you stand for, they are probably also jealous of something you have, such as the confidence to be yourself.

Trying to please everybody or always conforming to society’s rules might help you avoid haters, but it can also lead to being overlooked and ignored. If exactly zero people disagree with you or judge you, it probably means no one is paying attention to you at all.

Interestingly, the criticism something or someone triggers is often proportional to the attraction and excitement it generates. Think of important politicians, songs, comedians, movies, or books. Notice that the most popular examples in any of these categories are adored by many, and also despised by many.

Think of art. I’m sure you have heard some form of the sentence “I hate modern art” or “a kindergartener could paint this.” Different types of art appeal to different audiences. Art is tremendously subjective, and every single painting in existence, even the most acclaimed masterpiece, is hated by someone out there.

You know what people don’t hate? They don’t hate blank canvases or blank pieces of paper. There’s nothing to hate, but there’s also nothing that can thrill.

Let that sink in, and if you’re still afraid to be polarizing, consider this. If you as a person were to be rated on a scale of 1 to 10 by five judges, wouldn’t you rather get four 10s and one zero than, say, all sixes or sevens?