Life isn’t really one big stage on which we’re performing on a daily basis.
So we don’t actually need to worry about the crowd’s perception so much.
I’m not a gymnast. Even though I tried to be way back in the day, I didn’t get very far—I was horrible. So, honestly, it comes as no surprise to me that no one has ever asked me to judge international gymnastics competitions. I mean, what expertise do I possess to be qualified to judge others in this sport? Zero.
It’s interesting, though, how quickly we’re able to judge other people in so many other areas of life. I was talking to my friend Bonnie one day last week about a mean comment someone had said to me about my outfit. I usually don’t care what people think about what I’m wearing, but it was one of those days when I didn’t need any extra negativity, and this person made me feel like I didn’t even belong at work that day.
And then Bonnie said something so true: “The world would be a better place if people would stop judging.”
For many of us, as we get older, we tend to care less and less about what people think of us in some areas of our lives—we’ll go to the grocery store in pajamas, and we’ll say things out loud in public that might have embarrassed us 10 years ago. But, even as adults, every once in a while, other people can still make us feel small.
When I was teaching high school, I remember so many instances when I had to remind my students that they should feel comfortable in their own skin and not worry about what other people thought or said about them. I would argue that most high schoolers are pretty concerned with judgments others make about them, but I would also argue that the concern doesn’t always vanish when you’re older.
For the most part, I couldn’t care less about people judging me. Life’s too short to worry about stuff like that. It’s been more of a struggle, though, when it comes to guys I’m interested in—because obviously their opinions matter. But I don’t think they should to the extent that I sometimes think they should. I can recall many situation in which I’ve been to shy or quiet when I really should have just been me.
Let’s flash back to college. I was really good friends with a guy I had a crush on, and we spent a significant amount of time together. I was pretty comfortable around him most of the time, but there were other times when I felt I couldn’t completely be myself and make my dumb jokes and comments or even sing out loud in the car. That’s not a good thing, and I later realized that.
Thankfully, down the road I became more comfortable with other guys I met, and I performed Taylor Swift on a boat and unexpectedly sang the same song at a wedding reception, both in front of fellas I liked. But I sometimes still have moments when I freeze up out of fear of what a guy will think of me. Every once in a while, it may take me about 14 minutes to hit send on one text because I’m having anxiety about what homeboy will think. Note to self: It’s just a text.
People are always going to judge us. It doesn’t mean it’s right, but it’s a reality. We don’t have to let their opinions impact the way we live, though. We are the people we are for reasons, and we don’t need to change simply because of what others might think about us. If you want to sing Whitney or Britney at karaoke, please belt it. If you want to veer away from tradition when planning your wedding, go for it. If you want to believe that leggings are pants, believe it, and wear them with pride. If you want to put ketchup instead of mustard on your hot dog, slather away. If you really like the shirt that your friend said she’d never wear in public, for the love, buy the freaking shirt. If you are sitting at the airport and realize you forgot to put on deodorant, but the bathroom is too far away, and the deodorant is right in your bag and would be easier to put on right where you are, you do what you need to do, regardless of the looks you receive.
Just be you.
Bonnie is right: The world would absolutely be a better place if people would stop judging. But it would also be better if we stopped caring so much about those judgments. I know I’m going to remind myself more to be me all of the time, even when it comes to some guy who strikes my fancy. After all, he should accept me for who I am—just like others should accept you for the person you are. And, to be honest, the people who truly care about you won’t make you feel like you’re not good enough as you are.
Because love is better than that.