Honestly, you are not going to NOT care at all what others think, and nor should you. How lonely would that be to not care at all! But the point is choosing whose opinion you care about and not having other’s expectations stop you from being who you truly are.
When I read this line, I really related. “The strange thing is, coming out (about her assault) to someone I don’t know is easy. Coming out to someone I know is much harder. Perhaps because they contain pockets of your past; who you were, what they believed you to be. It’s hard to watch those ideas dissolve to reconfigure around this new identity.” – Know My Name: A Memoir Chanel Miller
Only my “coming out” was about the loss of my dad – I didn’t want everyone to know about my biggest trauma ever, how vulnerable! Then the second, and even scarier layer of my coming out was about the rabbit hole his death lead me down, researching everything I could find on paranormal studies and scientific evidence of an afterlife – OMG how weird and woo. Then I decided to write a book about my experience, which if I actually wanted any form of commercial success, it would be kinda hard to stay in the closet. So I had to get over it.
Thinking of the following is what helps me care less:
1- You are worried people will kill you.
Ok super dramatic but true. The discomfort of going against the norm is a survival instinct. Back in the day, people were actually killed for going against the group, or would starve to death if they were kicked out of a tribe. You are gonna die anyway, but not because you are going against other’s expectations. So yes the feeling of discomfort is real, it is programmed into your survival DNA, but the fear is not realistic.
2 – No one is thinking about you anyway.
People are busy. They are usually thinking about themselves. If they are thinking about you that much it is usually because they are someone who cares a lot about you, like your parents or husband. Otherwise, they aren’t thinking about you that much.
3 – And even if they are, THAT would be weird.
If that girl who snubbed me in 9th grade, my ex boyfriend from college, or my boss who I interned for at Vogue (it’s really hard to not care what people who work at Vogue think of me!) think I’m weird or are baffled by my life change, fine. If they continually think about it, or talk about it when I am not a big part of their lives, that is on them.
4 – But it can be good if someone who doesn’t know you keeps talking about you.
Honestly, I have been the person who did that. When I began my quest examining if there was evidence of an afterlife, I thought non-stop about people I had met once or twice, or had not met at all, such as researchers, mediums, and scientists. I obsessively wondered f they were sane, intelligent, and not charlatans. Their work helped me during my darkest days, so if I have to be considered “weird” to help someone else, I’ll take it.
5 – You don’t owe anyone your life.
I felt I was letting everyone down by not being who I had told everyone I was going to be. I will probably always be uncomfortable if someone I haven’t talked to in awhile sees what I am doing now and is surprised, or disappointed, or condescendingly amused, but honestly that is not my responsibility to make them comfortable.
6- You’re uncomfortable. So what.
There can be an awkward cringe in my stomach to varying degrees when I let people know about my life change.. So what. I have pushed through physical discomfort before such as at the gym or working when I was sick. This is just another form of physical discomfort.
7 – Someone will always dislike you anyway.
Even if you adapt your life to accommodate everyone, people still won’t like you. So at least do what you truly want.
While I will never get over caring and worrying what others think of me, and you don’t need to expect that of yourself either, the above helps me at least not make that a deciding factor.
“You’ll worry less about what people think about you when you realize how seldom they do.” – usually attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt.
Written by Elizabeth Entin