You’re Going To Make People Angry.

Miyah Byrd
7 min readOct 31, 2022


Photo by Sergi Dolcet Escrig on Unsplash

At any given time, I’m worried 3–5 people are upset with me. Sometimes, it’s an acquaintance, and I worry I’ve said something offhand that burrowed under their skin and made their eye twitch. Occasionally, it’s a colleague or client I think I’ve forgotten to complete a desperately needed task for. Rarely, it’s a friend, and I’m scared I’ve done one friendship faux-pas too many. Always my mother.

If anyone related to me does read this (cause we’re all nosy), I’m not going to talk about it with you. Love you.

When you’re an anxious person who spends the majority of your life people-pleasing, you collect people who want to be pleased. People who like the you that constantly puts your boundaries on the back burner. People who pushback hard when you come in as an unfamiliar-to-them version of yourself.

You start keeping around old personalities. Reshuffling through the stages of your life like those frayed sweaters in your closet you keep around even when they no longer fit.

This person likes the naïve, God-centered 17-year-old you who doesn’t have or want a septum piercing. That person likes the political activist 20-something you who railed against everything. This one likes the geeky comics-reading 24 year-old you who never cusses and didn’t understand the catcall about handlebars on her head.

I’ve had those and a few others on rotation for a minute.

I’ve leaned hard on the label “skeptical” Christian so I can voice doubts without alarming Christian friends even though my life philosophy’s been closer to lazy humanist for years.

(This label’s useful so I don’t get asked to coffee to “chat about my walk”. An unwanted possibility causing way too much back sweat. It’s second only to being invited to “catch up” by a person who has recently joined a MLM.)

I haven’t published any of the erotica I’m experimenting with since some versions of me still wear the label “wholesome” like a badge of honor, even though it’s become a chain around my creativity’s neck. And writing about the joy of sex would offend all but 2 of the people in my life.

(Which is wild to me because 1. most of us wouldn’t even be here without somebody boning and 2. When it’s with people you love, or even are just attracted to, sex has been one of the top best things of being human and alive. 13/10.)

I’ve stripped a lot of the cursing, terms of endearment, and snarky humor from my writing in the past so I don’t offend the readers who like to police my tone. But I’m writing like I speak, babes, so I wouldn’t fucking count on that continuing.

(There will also be a lot more awkward sidenotes because I add caveats, ramble into non-sequiturs and say “here’s the thing. look. listen.” in almost every conversation I have.)

So, why am I doing all this now? What changed?

It’s an age-old tale, really.

I met a girl.

Reading under a tree in my neighborhood park (like the nerd I am), I look up and see one of the most gorgeous women I’ve ever laid eyes on. Black locs flecked with beads glinting in the sun. Lips made for nibbling. Draped in a long, flowy yellow dress with thigh-high slits that makes her entire body glow. And her legs……..good god.

If you’re worrying (like I did for a minute) about me objectifying her, she’s read this whole piece and thought it was adorable……among other things.

It’s rare for me to meet taller women. Most women in America land solidly in the 5ft to 5' 4" range. Quite a few of my femme friends are shorter than 5ft. I’m 5' 8" on a good day, 5' 10" when I wear my normal heels.

I find taller women and shorter men, when they carry themselves with confidence, positively magnetic. And if she was anything, she was magnetic.

For a good minute, I did that sly-corner-of-my-eye, “I’m looking but not really”. She sits at a nearby picnic table about three feet away, and this goddess of a woman pulls Zami from her satchel. This girl randomly pulled a Royal Flush in the genetics poker game, and just casually rocks up with Audre Lorde?!?

“Stop staring and come say hi.”

This sentence doesn’t register to me until she beckons me closer. She laughs and waits for me to gather up my things. We strike up introductions. Exchange book recommendations. She flirts. I flirt. She’s mesmerizing. I’m barely passable.

She spits out poetry references and innuendoes rhythmically while dropping life lessons left and right. Our conversation is warm and familiar without even trying. As we chatted for around two hours, I’ll skip to the most relevant part to our story today.

When she asks what brought me to the park today, I tell her the rote answer I give almost everyone. I’m surprised at how much it doesn’t fit me anymore even as I say it.

“It’s a good place to escape to when I need it.”

“What are you escaping from?”

“My life, mostly”

“Why you need to escape your life, honey?”

Readers, if I could honestly answer that question without downplaying or sarcasm, I probably wouldn’t be writing scathingly personal essays on the internet, going back to therapy next month, and considering shrooms. (Scratch that. I’d still be going back to therapy.)

After a lengthy pause, she sidles closer. Whenever I ask questions that I think are ‘too far’, I draw away. I apologize and retreat. She doesn’t. She asks if she can share what she thinks. I nod and stammer out a yes.

“I’ve found when most people need to escape their life, they’re trying to escape expectations. Judgement. The disguises they wear to be palatable. When I stopped wearing my disguises, maintaining them? I didn’t need to escape my life as much anymore. I didn’t need to hide away to be myself.”

After tipping my entire world on its axis, she asks for my phone number. Slightly reeling, I give it to her.

Here’s the thing, friends. By trying to please everybody and their mama (and my mama — couldn’t resist), I wasn’t allowing anybody to know me as I am now. And ironically, putting extremely unrealistic expectations of my own on those rare friends I’d been vulnerable and found myself safe with.

People-pleasing was a symptom not the root cause. The pathological need for external validation of my worth led me to suppress the parts of me that I feared wouldn’t be seen as worthy. Maybe for you, this doesn’t show up as people-pleasing.

Maybe you push people away before they can make a judgement about you. Maybe you get just drunk/high enough to not care what people think. Maybe you screw your way through people, literally and figuratively, everywhere you go. Maybe you work so hard and give so much to people so you’ll deserve their love. (Sidenote: No-one “deserves” love. Deserve implies you can do enough/get to a point where you are entitled to another person’s love. That is not a thing. It will never be a thing. A piece for another day.)

But being accepted for the mask you put on, even if it’s a past version of you, makes your already low view of your self-worth even lower. Who wants to be loved for the fake persona they put on?

Without that fake persona, though, you gonna piss some people off. It’s bound to happen.

Take curse words as an example. Some people swear like a sailor and don’t trust people who don’t. Others see swearing as sinful or disrespectful. And others still don’t swear themselves but are fine with it. You’re never going to please all three groups, and you’ll wear yourself out trying.

When you show up *snickers at buzzword* authentically, someone is not going to like what you’re doing and tell you about it. Heck, I shared a piece on the futility of activism in the long-term that’s been percolating for a while. People were, how shall we say, not amused. (They probably won’t agree with my upcoming piece on modern serfdom either. C’est la vie)

But now, I don’t feel the searing need to whip out my record of advocacy or rush to say mea culpa for daring to have an opinion that’s different than most.

If you are yourself, truly, there’s going to be people who just don’t vibe with you. Not because they or you are an asshole. Because everyone likes different things. Because they prefer pina colada people and you’re more a hot cup of tea. Because a 100% approval rating is not a goal humans can (or should) meet.

The advice she shared in the park that day wasn’t earth-shattering. I’ve written similar advice in the past. But sometimes, the life lesson doesn’t sink in until you’re ready. What seems like common-sense only becomes universe-changing wisdom when you’re in a space to receive it.

Don’t try to be a dick, but you don’t have to obsess over not making people upset.

Be thoughtful. Be brave. Be appropriate for the context you’re in. (Had to change the title of this piece cause I forgot the no cussing in your headline rule)

Make your little corner of the Earth a kinder place.

And when you do all that and piss someone off by being you, they’re not the peeps for you.

Peace ✌️



Miyah Byrd

The Ethical Storyteller. Founder & Host of We Don’t Talk About That!