Screw What Others Think

    a.307w Not a Pretty SightWhat a sight it was. A hard scrabbled woman, could have been anywhere between 35-65 years, about 5’5″, overweight of the flabby sort — lots of wiggle and jiggle. Bleach-blond hair, a tattoo on her upper arm. Wearing very white, very SHEER, very SHORT shorts over a very dark, very small thong. Nothing left to the imagination .. particularly when she bent down. An eye-opener. (And not a pretty sight.)

    Still, it got me thinking about how much of our lives is wasted in angst over the question “What would [fill in the blank {who}] think if I did [fill in the blank {what}]?”

    Imagine how freeing it’d be to reach a point where you truly didn’t care what others thought.

    Imagine being confident enough to:
    *love whomever(s) you wanted (regardless of gender or sexual orientation),
    *allow yourself green, blue, pink and orange stripes in your hair (even if 70),
    *make decisions based on your own thought process and comfort level.

    Imagine how freeing it’d be:
    *choosing what works for you and what doesn’t,
    *annihilating the sound stage in your mind of all those voices from family who told you all you couldn’t do and couldn’t be.
    *blowing up the mixing studio in your mind of all those people in your life who repeatedly told you all you could not do and all you could not be.

    Imagine that if you can.

    a.308w I DonMaybe the woman I saw that day said to herself, “Screw what others think, a beauty contestant I’m not, but I still want to wear this outfit.” Looking at it from that perspective, I say more power to her.

    Continuing with that perspective, Jenny Joseph’s delightful poem “When I Am Old” fits right in. The poem enumerates all the things she looks forward to doing (and plans on doing) when she is an old woman. And while acknowledging the need for paying rent, setting a good example for the children, etc. she did end the poem by wondering if perhaps she ought to practice a little in the present. “So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised, when suddenly I am old and start to wear purple!”

    If memory serves, there have been studies done showing most people spend their time thinking about themselves and really don’t care what others do. Oh, there’s a perverse fascination in keeping a running commentary going — “Can you believe she’s wearing that?” “What makes him think he can go that when so many others have tried and failed?” But really, it’s more of a sport. A way to pass the time. Essentially it boils down to whether you’re going to be true to yourself, listen to your Little Voice, honor your Inner Goddess (your Inner He-Man), or let society dictate.

    [By society I mean any group you subscribe to, be it the larger country society, smaller city (or neighborhood) society, your co-workers/employees, political associates, house of worship friends, those who share political or philosophical beliefs, cliques, cults, even family.]

    d.425w chunky is okayI had a neighbor. A young woman. She told me she’d always been “chunky.” She didn’t have a problem with that because everyone had “something.” Hers was just visible. She didn’t care what others thought of her. She was comfortable in her own skin and dressed to please herself. Her outfits were always delightful, being of the colorful funky-punk sense of style.

    Lizzie Velasquez was dubbed “World’s ugliest woman” by you-tube cyberbullies. Rather than buy into the hurtfulness of the situation and subscribe to some of the nasty comments left in response to said video, she ostensibly said “Screw what others think” (though she used different words lol) and decided the bullies weren’t going to become the definition of who she was and the truth of her life. She went on to become a professional motivational speaker. Her 2013 TEDx talk in Austin, Texas called “How Do You Definite Yourself? catapulted her to internet fame and subsequent recognition.

    So long as you don’t harm another — and if you feel you want to — why shouldn’t you:

    ~Wear that skimpy little bikini over your very large body?
    ~Share your life experience and be a motivational speaker?
    ~Explore your inner kink and the world of BDSM?
    ~Leave the high-stress high-paying job you hate and simplify your life?
    ~Travel the world with your family in a sailboat?
    ~Write the book you really want to write, without self-censorship?
    ~Love the person (or persons) you want?
    ~[Fill in the blank here with what you really want to do]?

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    Sheila Bergquist - June 1, 2016 - 4:20 am

    I find the older I get, the less I care about what others think. However, I have to admit that I think it is a question of pride in oneself that keeps us from dressing in certain ways. I had an aunt who wore totally inappropriate outfits and had people laughing behind her back. I will also admit that she was very embarrassing to go out with. So, there’s a fine line there somewhere maybe? But it would be great to really not care!

    IR - June 1, 2016 - 2:30 pm

    I adore this post!!!

    I’m fairly certain I learned about a social or cognitive psych concept that suggested that others don’t pay anywhere close to as much attention to us as we think they do…i.e., nobody really cares about you because they’re so busy caring about themselves (especially in an individualist society such as the U.S.).

    A preliminary Google search brought up a Psychology Today article (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fighting-fear/201307/dont-be-embarrassed-nobody-is-paying-attention), and while that publication is admittedly very “pop psych”, this section stood out to me: “So, what embarrasses someone depends on the way that person sees himself/herself. Therefore, it is, to some extent, a learned reaction. In general, those individuals who are comfortable with the way they are, are less likely ever to be embarrassed.”

    In my opinion, when individuals present themselves with confidence and happiness, it’s much harder for others to ridicule them, and their confidence can perhaps even garner respect.

    Life is so much funner when we focus less on what we “think” other people are thinking or saying about us, and instead spend our energy on the things that bring us happiness and satisfaction.

    Star H. - June 1, 2016 - 5:13 pm

    Confidence.
    IR, you really hit on an important word. Nonverbal cues like the way you hold yourself, the way you walk, really send a message.
    People used to ask me how I could walk alone, at night, in the “bad” parts of L.A. At first, I couldn’t answer, so the next time I did something so “brave,” I watched myself. It came down to walking tall, walking strong, looking purposeful.
    The thing is, I’m not particularly brave or strong. So, I suspect everyone can learn this outer confidence, which someday will translate into an inner confidence.
    I wish for everyone a strong presence, both outer and inner.
    Confidence.

    Tana Bevan - June 2, 2016 - 1:58 pm

    Sheila~Interesting PoV re dressing, that it is a question of pride. Will have to mull. As for your aunt, if she didn’t care what others thought/said about her attire, more power to her. In terms of being embarrassed to go out with her, a friend of mine says, “your feelings are valid.” They’re yours. Though I suppose a question to be explored is whether embarrassment is a feeling or a learned trait. If it’s the latter it possibly comes from the “What will others think of me being with this person” mindset which is what I was exploring in the post. The nice thing about being an adult is, should you be uncomfortable around someone, you always have the option/choice of not being around that person. As always, thank you for commenting.

    Tana Bevan - June 2, 2016 - 2:08 pm

    Touche IR! ~ I’ve seen those rare individuals in action who are comfortable enough in themselves that the behavior/actions of others doesn’t affect them. (You’re actually included on this very short list. *smiles*) Life is definitely waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too short to waste time on worrying about what others think, particularly since we humans are ostensibly a self-absorbed bunch. (May have something to do with self-survival, but that’s a whole other topic of conversation.)

    The quote that stuck out for me from your link was “Some individuals seem immune to the kind of embarrassment that would affect practically everyone else in that situation” because that fits the LoMl to a “T.” My hope is that due to our close proximity, some of that immunity rubs off on me. *smiles*

    Tana Bevan - June 2, 2016 - 2:13 pm

    Star~Great share. Thank you. Your story is totally on point with the truism, “Do as if and it will be.” A lot of times (most times?) it’s the nonverbal which conveys far more than any amount of words. (Perhaps that’s where the saying “Actions speak louder than words” originated.) Confidence is priceless. To trust yourself and your abilities is an amazing gift you can give yourself. Back-at’cha in wishing you large doses of it.