It’s time to normalise this.
You’re gonna hear a lot of people round you preaching the idea that you shouldn’t let the opinions of other people affect what you want to do in life. At face value, a normal sentiment and one that I think the majority of people would agree with. I mean for the longest time I agreed with it too. The idea that as long as we are happy and living life to the fullest why should the opinion of other people impact us. I do believe this mindset works for a number of different scenarios we experience through our lives. For example, picking a career path your parents don’t agree with, dating a person your friends don’t like or having questions about your own identity. But when you take each of these scenarios I also think it is perfectly ok to care what other people think about the decisions you’re making.
Don’t get me wrong this isn’t me saying that we need to automatically follow the advice and opinions from those around us, but I do think we need to be aware of the world we’re living in and the value of other people’s perceptions of us. There are simply times in life where we have to and should care about what other people think of us. You’d find life quite challenging if you didn’t care about anyone’s opinions of you. I mean, there are some people in our life who’s perceptions of us we do care about, our friends, our family, even our co-workers to a certain extent. We can’t be blind to the fact these perceptions will have an impact on our life and it’s important to be aware of what the impact is and make an informed decision moving forward. What people think about us could have a huge affect on our mental health and quality of life, especially people we are close to. And opinions do not have to be simply opinions. They should be something that we are able to accept from a more holistic viewpoint. Just because your parents don’t want you to be an artist may come from a place of them wanting you to have a career with more stability and security.
Human’s are inherently selfish. As much as you want think of your self as not, you are, sorry. And it’s okay, there are numerous times in life where we have to be selfish and put ourselves first. And the notion that we shouldn’t care about other people’s opinions is our selfish side at play. In fact, taking those views and opinions into consideration is almost a selfless act. There are some people out there who you can just flat out ignore, mainly anyone on Twitter but don’t let the idea of empowering yourself to fulfil your own happiness cloud your judgement on considering the views of people you actually care about. A lot of the time people who may seem as though they are stepping in the way of doing something you want to do are doing it from a place of love and support. You shouldn’t be so quick to simply disregard this as a hurdle you just need to overcome. Differentiating between roadblocks and diversions is a key skill we all need to learn as we meander our way through life’s challenges.
Having said all this I do believe we all have an innate desire to be accepted by the people around us. The way we present ourselves is influenced by our preconceived ideas of how society will perceive us. We all conform to some societal standards but we are given the freedom to be able to work within these boundaries to reach a balance of self expression and external acceptance. Social media is a huge example of our need to feel accepted by a community. There is a reason why we love likes and people telling us how good we look in our latest post. If we truly didn’t care what other people thought about us, compliments would have no affect on us, the same with constructive criticism.
It’s important for us to accept that our world view is very narrow. We all carry our own lens and see the world in completely different ways. The way we are shaped as humans and bettering ourselves is by learning from those around us. Speaking to people, taking advice and allowing others to help direct our lives. There are a lot of people out there who want you to succeed, but the road to success isn’t a constant stream of wins. You will get your fair share of failures which almost certainly will be down to someone else’s opinion of you.
I do want to end by saying, I truly do believe if you do have your mind set on something and you have the drive and determination to do it you should go out there and go for it. If there is someone out there telling you that you can’t, maybe first understand why they are saying that as opposed to labelling them as another hater who is standing in the way of your success. You will have to care what people think and that’s okay. We show our true worth and value through our interactions with others. But also don’t let the idea of what people “might think” hold you back from doing something. What people “think” and what they “might think” are two very different things. Ifs, buts and maybes are what stop us from taking risks and making strides in our lives. We can’t give all the power to other people.
I hope all that made sense. It made sense in my head but as I was writing it I found out it was a lot harder than I thought to articulate. You ultimately have the power to direct your life, but it is okay and sometimes necessary to alleviate some of that power to other people. At the end of the day many processes in life are simply down to supply and demand, sometimes it’s necessary for us to follow this formula.