In recent days it has occurred to me that I have gotten away from the things that truly make me happy. I’ve stopped walking barefoot in the grass and running out into the rain when there is a downpour. I haven’t painted in months and any writing I’ve done has felt forced. I’ve been careful not to be too “myself” in public places, even around the people I love the most. It seems that out of nowhere I’ve adopted this idea that I am “too much” for some and “not enough” for others. I’ve started to care far too much about the opinions of others.
Due to this recent discovery, I’ve made a fierce effort to get back to my happy, peaceful state. There was once a time when I didn’t care nearly as much about whether the neighbors thought I was crazy for dancing in the rain or how my coworkers felt about me being “extra.” I just danced. I just kept the joke going. I didn’t worry about whether it was “ok” or not because it made me happy. I felt free.
So, if you find yourself in this predicament, I encourage you to ask yourself the following 5 questions. Take this time to figure out why you care so much and how you can get back to living a life in which only one opinion matters: your own.
1. Whose opinion am I worried about most and why?
Is it your parents? Your best friends? You bosses? Maybe you have a dream of becoming an entrepreneur, but you’re afraid to tell your parents, who would rather you be a doctor or lawyer. You’re scared that your friends will laugh at your business ideas. What if your boss finds out and starts giving you a hard time at work?
All these anxious thoughts start to flood your mind. I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve also been on the other side of it and I can tell you from experience that in the end, none of those opinions did anything for me, but delay the pursuit of my dream.
All over-considering the opinions of other people does is get in your way. It makes you second guess yourself even when your gut feeling is telling you you’re on the right path.
This is not to say you should completely disregard others. If your best friend voices some concerns, understand that they may be doing this out of love. They don’t want to see you lose money or time, but don’t let that sway you from pursuing your dream. If you have a mentor in business and they share their seasoned opinion regarding your ideas, give it the thought it deserves. If it doesn’t feel right to you, thank them kindly for their support and advice and go on your merry way.
2. If time and money were no object, what would I be doing right now?
I was first faced with this question when one of my managers approached me and a group of my coworkers and said, “Find some paper and write down five things you would do if you didn’t have to worry about time or money. We’ll review them when you’re done.” I was immediately filled with anxiety. Five things? I could hardly think of one right off the top of my head! Not only that, but my coworkers would hear what I wrote and what if they thought it was ridiculous, silly, or cliché?
When it came time to share our lists, I took a moment to look around. Everyone was just as nervous as I was and obviously so.
No one’s list was ridiculous. None were silly or cliché. They were just honest. Pure hopes and dreams from the hearts of each of us. It was vulnerable and awkward, but from the soil of vulnerability sprouts the most beautiful things in life.
So, be a little vulnerable. Be a little awkward. Make a list of 5 things and show at least one person. No matter what they say, be proud of your list. Pursue the dreams you sprawl on the page because they are some of the things that will make your life worth living.
3. What is my favorite thing about myself?
Superficial answers are not acceptable here. Remember that you’re physical being is not you. It’s your shell. And as beautiful as that shell is, I want you to look within. Look at your heart, your mind, your soul. What is your favorite thing about yourself?
You know what? It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but personally, I like being “extra.” I care about people a little more than I probably should. I drag out jokes because it makes people laugh. I talk in ridiculous voices and dance horrendously when I get excited. I’m a little odd. I’m kinda out there. But being a little (or a lot) “extra” makes me happy. It allows me to laugh at myself and embrace even the most awkward moments in life.
Maybe you’re shy, but it makes you a good listener and you like being there for people. Maybe you’re a little loud, but you make people laugh and that makes you feel good about yourself. Whatever it is that you love about you, take it and run with it.
4. Who is one person I love because they just don’t care?
One of my coworkers inspires me on a daily basis because he simply does not give people power over him. It’s one of the many reasons I admire him so much. He shows respect where its due and he isn’t necessarily rebellious, but he just generally doesn’t care about what people that have no bearing on his life think of him. He’s someone I try to model myself after, especially on those days when I’m afraid to be authentically myself.
Find that person in your life that inspires you to be yourself. Someone that accepts you for you and accepts themselves for who they are. People who are confident in themselves don’t feel the need to judge others. They’re too busy appreciating the good things in life.
5. What would I say to my favorite person if they were consumed with the opinions of others?
If my little sister came to me with an issue like this, the first thing I would do is probably an Alyssa Edwards pop.
I would then proceed to shower her in an eruption of compliments that goes a little something like this…
“BB YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, TALENTED, HILARIOUS, AND BASICALLY THE QUEEN OF THE WORLD. ALL OF US ARE PEASANTS IN COMPARISON TO YOU. YOU ARE KIND AND STUNNING AND PERFECT IN EVERY WAY. DO NOT LET THOSE HEATHENS BRING YOU DOWN.”
(See… extra. But tell me you don’t feel even a little bit better after reading that. I dare you.)
The point I’m trying to make is that you would never let your favorite person walk around thinking less of themselves because of the opinions of some people that don’t even matter in the grand scheme of things.
You would never let Harry Styles walk this earth thinking his hair was not flawless any way he wears it just because some 12 year old Twitter user in Wisconsin is pissed that he cut off his man bun. You wouldn’t let Demi Lovato think she’s fat just because some pig with a laptop in his mother’s basement can’t appreciate curves in all their shapely glory. Just like I will not stand for you thinking that you are not perfect and wonderful just the way you are because some ignorant dude said something mean or some Barbie doll gave you a backhanded compliment.
Whenever you’re feeling down because someone shared an unsolicited opinion about your clothes, your hair, your career, or you life, you tell yourself whatever you would tell your favorite person. Or just come back and read this:
BABY, NOBODY PUTS YOU IN A CORNER. DO NOT LET ANYONE PUT YOU DOWN. MOMMA WAS NOT LYING WHEN SHE SAID THEY ARE JUST JEALOUS AND INSECURE. WHO WOULDN’T BE JEALOUS OF YOUR SHIMMERING EYES AND NATURAL TALENT? THAT GUY IS JUST MAD BECAUSE HE KNOWS HE CAN’T GET A FANTASTIC PERSON LIKE YOU. THAT GIRL IS JUST JEALOUS BECAUSE YOU LOVE YOUR BODY AND SHE CAN’T FIGURE OUT HOW YOU’RE SO SECURE IN YOURSELF. THOSE PEOPLE ARE AFRAID BECAUSE THEY KNOW YOU HAVE THE VISION AND POWER TO CHANGE THE WORLD SO THEY WANT TO KEEP YOU DOWN. WELL, GUESS WHAT? I LOVE YOU AND GOD LOVES YOU AND SO MANY OTHER PEOPLE LOVE YOU AND WE ALL WANT TO SEE YOU SUCCEED. NOW GO OUT THERE, TELL THE HATERS TO GET BENT, AND MAKE US PROUD.