“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” — Marcus Aurelius
We tend to let a lot of goofy things bother us far more than they should. Most of us are guilty of this. And I’m not talking about pet peeves or annoyances that we overblow. I’m thinking more internally. A little bit of soul-searching.
I would say a good majority of us are guilty of this at one point in time. What I’m talking about here is the weight that we give the opinions of others.
Like many things, the growth and popularity of social media has inflated this problem. We put our whole lives out there for others to see. Of course we want it to look good. Of course we want to look happy.
Especially if we are distorting ourselves. What benefit is there to trying to impress people online?
I’m not saying don’t share good news like when you get a promotion or a scholarship or just think you look good in that selfie. I’m talking about when we try to make everything look perfect.
Here’s the problem with that. It is all smoke and mirrors. We control what we put up. And no matter how much anyone posts, that is just a small percentage of that person’s life. An online persona isn’t giving you the whole picture.
I started thinking about this when I saw that someone had unfriended me. First, I had wondered what I had done to upset this person. Then a light bulb, for once in my life, kind of went off. Why did I care? I totally know I am guilty of thinking too much about how people view me. But this damn light bulb finally went off. How was this a loss to me? Would I really want to change who I was because of one person, who I didn’t really talk to at all anymore? Would it even make a difference? Did I want it to?
It just really got me thinking in a way I hadn’t before. And I think it was very insightful into myself. I’m a people pleaser. I always want to make everyone happy. I want everyone to get along. These things are not possible. This doesn’t exactly stop me from trying.
But who I am now – its worked for me. I’m all about growth and development. I’m always aiming to be better. Part of that is the perfectionist in me which I do kind of need to tone down but otherwise, I think you know what I mean. Always be learning. Always try your best.
The person I am is flawed. I’m working on it. I’ve made mistakes. Some I’ve been rectified, some I haven’t been able to.
The person I am now has also had some accomplishments I’m pretty proud of. I don’t want to come off as bragging (I recognize the irony in this), but there are definitely things I wouldn’t have accomplished without certain aspects of my personality, for better than worse.
Why would I let the opinions of others change that?
The biggest “opinion of others” that I get – and sometimes gets in my head – is my short hair. I have been told by so many people – friends, family, and total strangers, that a lot of guys aren’t attracted to short hair. So I should grow it out. Then I can snag a man. First of all, and I think this is important, we shouldn’t let any other one person define our worth. As an individual, you should define your own worth. Your self-worth should never in anyway be defined by another person’s opinion. Emphasize on “self” in “self-worth.” You define your worth. And why would I want to be a guy who will only be with me if my hair is long? Does this not sound absolutely ridiculous to anyone else? I don’t even think that this is even actually a thing.
Second, the fact that it takes me about five minutes to style my hair after showering pretty much outweighs anything else. I love that perk of short hair. I’m pretty positive that growing my hair for a guy would not make so happy that I don’t miss that benefit. Third, it’s the hair on my head. Why can’t I enjoy it? I’ll admit that I can be pretty self-conscious about my appearance. But I do think I can rock the pixie. It’s fun. It’s different. Think of Lydia in Beetlejuice,“I myself am strange and unusual.” It’s basically along those lines. Ultimately, to be honest, I’m not a patient person and probably don’t have the patience to grow it out. In case you were wondering. Whatever.
Tattoos are another big one. I don’t understand why people are so opinionated about something they don’t have to permanently live with. I also don’t know the point of telling someone how much they hate your tattoos. At that point, it’s really hard to change the tattooed person’s opinion on them. And it is also an expensive change of heart. Two of mine have serious meaning to me. And I have no problem telling someone the meaning of the one and why it is important and healing to me. The other two, I like books and writing. I also really like Star Wars,and you don’t get much more Star Wars than “May the Force be with you,” at least when it comes to quotes. In case you were wondering.
I am a huge supporter of loving yourself and accepting yourself. Be-YOU-tiful. That’s my favorite thing ever. I say it a lot. There is no one else quite like you. We all know the examples that society sets that are not necessarily obtainable. The idea that you need to check off all these boxes by a certain time in life to have it together. It happens from the time we are in high school and we tell these teenagers who have no idea where the fuck they are going to end up in the life that they need to meet an absurd amount of criteria to get the college of their dreams. Sometimes I think its too much. From this time on, we put so much pressure on ourselves that I think often we aren’t reaching our potential. We’re stretched too thin. It also starts us competing against each other. Competition is a healthy thing. But when it turns into comparing yourself to everyone else is what starts to mess with your head. We start in high school and never really stop.
I think the comparing yourself/opinions of others go hand in hand. You don’t know the full story of the person you are comparing yourself to. They don’t know yours. You are probably not going to change someone’s opinion of you. And really, most of the time, does it really matter? There are times when it matters; like in a job interview or meeting your significant other’s family. But the girl you went to high school with that you haven’t talked to since 6thgrade and looks like she has the perfect family? She might be looking at you the same way thinking about how you have a great job and she’s not using her degree in her job. When you’re traveling Europe and wondering if maybe you should have gone for that Master’s degree instead, he’s wondering if the degree is worth it. Everyone’s story and needs are different. Stop. Comparing. We don’t need the full story.
Life is too damn short to be this concerned with the opinions of others. I think a good example of this would be group fitness classes or really going to the gym in general. When you are wobbling in yoga or struggling with your weights, most likely, no one really cares. In yoga class, everyone else is probably too damn busy trying to hold the pose themselves and counting down until the next one to notice what the hell you are doing. At the gym, if anyone is negatively judging you for trying to better yourself and become healthier, they are an asshole. It is that simple. The gym is the last place anyone should be judging anyone and where you should be competing against anyone but yourself. Going to the gym or group fitness classes can be agonizing for people when it comes to their self-esteem! We don’t need assholes making it harder. Unless you are working with a trainer who you are payingto give their opinion, no one else’s matters. Full stop.
Individually, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. We really do not need to add to that by worrying what Joan from Accounting thinks of your haircut. Sometimes, when someone gives their opinion they mean all the best. But your uncle Jack who was a hippie in the 60’s (and never left the 60’s) shouldn’t be talking you down for joining the military.
I am not saying that every opinion anyone ever offers you is horrible and should be ignored. I’m saying that we shouldn’t let the opinion of others drive our opinions of our selves.Not everyone is going to like your hair. Your political viewpoints (that’s a loaded one). Or, simply, you. And that is okay! It is not possible for everyone to like you or everything about you. Sometimes you are a pearl and they prefer a diamond. It doesn’t make one better than the other. Some people are going to prefer the pearl to the diamond. You aren’t going to like everything about everyone you do like, and you aren’t going to like everyone. That’s life. And there is no reason to be rude about it. Move on. Worry about you.
Really, we aren’t as important as we think we are. People don’t think about us as much as we think, or rather, notice us as much as you might think. Everyone is just trying to do their own thing, and all of our insecurities are the same. I think a lot of it stems from what we think about others. Somewhere along the line, we all decided that we have to put this façade up of having everything together and a picture-perfect life when none of us actually do. Who are we trying to fool and why?
I saw a quote that basically said she didn’t dress up for guys to look at her; she dressed up to look at her reflection in windows as she walked by. I loved this. You do you! It goes back to my short hair example; I don’t get it cut to meet the expectations of any guy I’m interested in. I do it because I like it, I think I look good in it, and it works for me. And honestly, who hasn’t looked at their reflection walking by a window and suddenly had a surge of confidence because they just looked good? Do you.
Another aspect of this is that any confidence issues you may face are definitely impacted by how you let the opinion of others affect you. Let it go. It isn’t your business to change their opinion. As Martha Graham says, “What people think of you is really none of your business.” You have to do what is right and best for you. Not for what someone else thinks of you. I think we do this subconsciously; back to the social media spin/picture-perfect lifestyle. None of these are doable. And striving for perfection isn’t healthy. It’s not good for you mentally. It can impact you physically.
Be real and authentic and you’ll know that you are giving people that what they see is what they get. I don’t see any benefit or purpose to being fake. That has to be exhausting. And sometimes, people are just going to see whatever the hell they want to see. You aren’t going to be able to change, so you might as well just be yourself. I really hope no one takes this as be an asshole to people you don’t like because that’s the opposite of what I think. It’s not an excuse to be a jagoff – there isn’t really a reason why your authentic self can’t be at least polite. I don’t think there is much benefit to rudeness either.
This “other people’s opinion impacting how I feel about myself” is hard for me to. It isn’t an overnight change. It is hard to not be self-conscious about everything you do, especially depending on where you are in life. I can’t imagine a sixteen-year-old girl just being able to adopt this attitude with no problem. I think that ultimately, we will be a lot happier for thinking like this. Everyone isn’t going to love you. But that should never stop you from loving your life. I feel like taking a deep, deep breath and exhaling all of the negativity. Just remember – beYOUtiful.