For the first two decades of my life, I felt like I was on a stage.
Thousands of eyes were watching my every move, carefully scrutinizing the clothes I was wearing, the way I walked, the words that came out of my mouth.
They were eagerly waiting for me to make the tiniest mistake. Then, they would spit out their judgements:
“I can’t believe what she’s wearing. Can’t she see it’s making her look so fat?”
“She shook my hand for a second too long. She must be desperate to get the job.”
“Gosh, this girl is so boring. Can’t she just stop talking?”
Except, they never said such horrible things to my face. They were shouting them in my head.
I learned at a young age to care about what people thought of me.
My grandmother would always put her best dress on before leaving the house so strangers wouldn’t assume she was a slob.
My mum would beg my sister and me not to quarrel so loudly so our neighbours wouldn’t think she was a bad parent.
My father would always take us to church on Easter and Christmas so our friends wouldn’t question our faith.
The message was clear: other people were watching your every move. You’d better toe the line and put your perfect facade on or you’d become an outcast.
So, for years, that’s what I did. I’d put on the mantle of perfectionism and pretend I had everything together. I had to get the best grades at school. I couldn’t leave the house without makeup. I tried to be cheerful and funny even when I felt like I was dying inside.
Until it all proved too much. The mantle kept slipping off more and more often, showing glimpses of the real me I didn’t want anyone to see. I retreated into myself, hiding in my bedroom where no one could see me. No one could judge me there.
It took me a long time to realise the truth:
No one’s thinking about you, anyway
As I was busy worrying what other people would think of my new haircut or if they’d find my jokes funny, they were thinking about their own dramas, fears and insecurities.
My friend was wondering if that cute guy she saw every Tuesday at the gym would like her back.
The lady next door was thinking where she’d find the money to fix her car.
That stranger who locked eyes with me on the bus was hoping his interview would go well and he’d get offered the job.
Sure, maybe for a fraction of a second, they noticed my hair was a mess or that I stumbled on the stairs and almost fell down. Maybe they thought I was a slob or a clumsy idiot.
But two seconds later, they were already immersed in their own drama again. All thoughts of me and my “flaws” forgotten forever.Be your true self. Do what you want to do. No one's thinking about you, anyway.Click To Tweet
Go On, Be Free
While it may be crushing at first to realise that no one really cares about you, this idea is also incredibly liberating.
If no one is policing you, you don’t have to toe the line anymore.
You can be who you truly are.
You can do what sets your soul on fire.
You can love whoever you fall in love with.
No one will notice.
You’ll be the happiest you’ve ever been.
Over to you now. Do you still worry about what other people think of you or are you living life on your own terms? Share your story in the comments below.