How to stop caring what people think, is something that I’ve tried to figure out my entire life.
Growing up, I’d always fantasize about some day in the future when I bought/became/accomplished/dated x, y & z and THEN, I’d finally get to feel great about myself with no more f*cks to give about what anyone thought.
But like all fantasies, It was kept alive through my belief that the actualization of it was dependent upon the superficial.
It’s so much easier to become engrossed in a fantasy instead of the hard work it takes to get there.
Deep down, I knew it would never happen. There’s no way I could ever NOT want to know, worry about or obsess over what other people thought of me.
My need for others to give me an identity soon outweighed the belief that I could ever do so for myself.
It got so bad that surrender was the only option. So, I accepted that this was who I was: a well-intended doormat; an emotionally lost, eternally-paranoid-and-embarrassed, insecure, never-good-enough-for-anyone, FAILURE. A failure that had acquiesced to living a life on the sidelines of other people’s actions.
(& the relationsh*ts I attracted always reflected and solidified this belief system)
Everything that I did was built off the question of “what will they think?”
It was exhausting.
I cared WAY too much to believe that I could ever get to a place of not caring at ALL.
Up until a few years ago, this was my life:
- Not making a move. My life had become the never ending mannequin challenge. I actually experienced this with launching Post Male Syndrome. Most everyone that I knew looked at me like I had 7 eyeballs and 2 heads when I explained what I wanted to do… and then the name (PMS??), they didn’t get it at all. So, what did I do? I froze. I obsessed over the color scheme instead of the content. I wasted time and sat on an idea – MY idea – that the fear of judgement disallowed the execution of for far too long.
- Approval addiction. Nothing mattered unless I had approval of the people that I pedestaled and of course, the disapproval/doubt of the “haters,” that I obviously had to prove wrong.
- Obsessing (to the point of crippling social anxiety, health problems, lying & fearfulness that turned into paranoia), about what other people thought of me, my life, my decisions, my looks, my education, what I did/didn’t do, etc. I remember being MORTIFIED when my grandparents would pick me up from Kindergarten and elementary school (they’d get out of the car and wait outside of my classroom). My grandparents were not born in this country. Their English is not the best and although they are all 4 still alive today, I can’t tell you what I’d give to be able to walk with them now in the way I tried so hard to avoid back then. The earliest memories that I have from school aren’t these carefree times with friends, just being a kid. My earliest memories are of doing everything in my power to be an unnoticed follower – to avoid judgement, negative opinions and the subsequent humiliation and bullying. The truth is, no one has ever humiliated, bullied or thought lower of me, more than I have humiliated, bullied and thought of myself. I remember being so scared of getting made fun of in school that I’d starve myself. Yup, I’d throw away my favorite Persian dish that my Mom made me and buy a 50 cent cookie, instead of run the risk of getting made fun of for not having the same sandwich and chips as everyone else. Today, I’d do anything just to know that my Mom had the everyday strength to cook that very meal.
- Desperation for other people to fill me in on myself.
- Jealousy. This was beyond going on an Instagram binge and dealing with a bit of a jealousy hangover. This was on a whole new level. I was so jealous of people that had zero sh*ts to give when it came to the opinions of others, I’d do everything that I could to attain the material possessions that they had. Why? I’d feel this intense (but ultimately very short lived), pseudo strength by having the same item as someone that had the one thing money couldn’t buy: immunity to the opinions of others.
Today, I’m one of those people who I thought I could never be.
I’m currently writing a blog post under a photo of an outfit I’ve worn many times before. I still don’t have a photographer, I still don’t own a camera and I still take every single photo on my iPhone. I know that I’m doing the best I can right now, so I really don’t care.
Why haven’t I gotten around to stepping it up?
Because I know that perception will always be based on perception and connection will always be based on substance & meaning.