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People Care About What Other People Think

It's true. As you grow up, you will hear things like “be yourself” and “don’t pay attention to others’ opinions”. First of all, I have no idea what “be yourself” means. Secondly, you live in a society. When you live in a society, you care about what your fellow society members think of you. It is a survival mechanism. Way back when, getting kicked out of your tribe was a big deal. If you tried to join another tribe, they were usually too far away and they would be too suspicious of an outsider. Living on your own in nature was too dangerous and you would likely die. What does this mean? We have been evolutionarily programmed to want acceptance. This is why people are afraid of public speaking. This is why the fashion industry tells us what to wear and we comply. This is why schools have uniforms. This is why etiquette is important. This is why rejection of any form is painful. This is why cliques form in school and fitting in feels so safe.




As you learn about the world, you will figure out how to fit in on your own terms. There is a fine line between expressing your uniqueness and creativity and fitting in in society. Over time, you will gain confidence in the things that really matter and the things that don’t. Committing a felony matters (don’t do this to be cool or unique, it can ruin your life). What color shirt you wear… not so much (probably won’t ruin your life).


Eventually you will find yourself as part of a ‘tribe’. You will need figure out if your tribe is the right tribe. I’ve found that knowing what you value and what you believe in helps. If you are hanging out with the popular kids at school and they are mean and spiteful to other people, does that line up with what you value? If you value being popular over being kind, then you didn’t listen to your Mama growing up. I can’t think of a time when kindness isn’t the right thing to do. Your tribe/people/family can be anyone. Eventually, you will find them. I am always looking for people to add to my tribe.


Someone, at some point, will make a comment to you that will make you second guess yourself about your appearance, style, or the things you want to do. It is normal to second guess yourself, especially when you are growing up. Remember that you are learning. You are not supposed to know everything about yourself and fitting in in the world. You are beautiful, smart and capable. Sure, listen to others’ opinions. But don’t take them too seriously. When you meet people who say things like “I don’t give a care, I do what I want, you are just a sheep, I’m a rebel, I live by my own rules…”, they are probably telling you what they would LIKE to feel, not what they ACTUALLY feel. Wanting acceptance from others is part of being a human. They are telling you how they WISH they were, not how they ACTUALLY are. This goes for a lot of other things people say. Usually, if you have to say it out loud about yourself, it probably isn’t true. Showing is more powerful than telling. Give these people a break and let them rant and rave. No need to call them out and embarrass them because they are figuring out the world too. We all lie to ourselves about one thing or another. Have some compassion and let them have their opinions.


So anyway… try on different identities. Experiment with clothes and fashion. Wear what makes you feel invincible. Learn new skills. Find the things that make you lose track of time while doing them. Find the things that make you smile uncontrollably. Find what makes you laugh and brings you joy. It’s normal to care about what other people think, just don’t let other people’s opinions run your life or make you feel worse about yourself.

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