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Be Yourself Instead of Trying To Impress Others. People Will Judge You Anyway

Be Yourself Instead of Trying To Impress Others. People Will Judge You Anyway

Every day, we dive headfirst into our schools, workplaces and the first thing we do is to surround ourselves with people.

We gossip about the latest trends. We discuss about the newest classes our kids are taking.

“Oh, Alex started playing the piano last week, how is George?” “Same old, same old, just going to that Arts class I’ve told you before. He’s now drawing …”

We talk about the game the night before – “Man, he was so close from scoring that jumper, I’m telling you. That would’ve been a winner for sure.” “Nah, they have no chance unless they trade…”

We stopped being “I”.

Humans are social creatures. The number of people who can survive without communicating and interacting with each other is slim to none. However, just because we tend to form, or join groups of people that we enjoy being with, it doesn’t mean it should be our whole purpose of living. There are times when we would ponder upon our purpose and reason for doing the things we are doing right now. We would wonder:

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“Why am I applying to this firm?”

“Why am I joining this team?

Or even,

“Why am I wearing this outfit?”

When we couldn’t come up with a satisfactory answer, we would shake our head furiously to ignore and cast it to the back of our minds. Yet we must understand that no matter how hard we try to avoid thinking about it, one day the truth will come back and bite you.

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The fact is, we try so hard to merge into a group, a community that when we sense that something we do would create or increase harmony, we would do it without questioning it. We try so hard to impress the people around us that we barricaded our own wants and desires. We stopped being “I” to make sure “we” are happy. But am “I” really happy?

Accept that we can’t control others’ opinions.

First and foremost, ask yourself: even if you are doing every single thing to make sure the people around you are happy, does that mean they won’t think otherwise? It might hurt to know, but people are easily swayed and judgmental. Your 120% might come across as a lack of effort to your boss. Your application to Penn might not be sufficient to get you a compliment from your parents because they went to Harvard. On the contrary, a design you drew up in 5 minutes might come across as a lifesaver to your classmate. A few words of encouragement might make your sister’s day.

Humans are versatile. They fluctuate. Trying to satisfy and impress everyone is the job of Sisyphus – a futile and fruitless one. Instead, accept that we simply can’t control opinions of others, work on the things we can actually control, such as the time and effort you pay in a job.

Just leave the rest be, and you’ll feel much freer.

Discover who “you” are.

This is easier said than done. As a child, I stumbled around, following my parents’ advice word to word. I learned piano because “it would be good for me”. I chose my high school because my counselor and teacher said it was academically competitive and had an accepting and warm student community. “You would like it there,” they said.

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But we are not kids anymore.

When we were younger, we had the excuse of saying “we don’t know as much as the adults” – even though it was a weak one anyway. Now that we have grown up, we are responsible for our own choices and decisions. We have the ability to differentiate between things we like and things we don’t. We have the freedom to choose the things we enjoy doing. Don’t waste it. Take this chance to discover what you like. If you have no idea – try. Try new things. Rediscover old hobbies. I dropped piano when I was 15. I picked it up again recently because I realized the only reason I didn’t like it was because it was not something I chose on my own accord. I hope, with all sincerity, that you can find out who you are as well through this slow process of trying out different things.

Be yourself and love yourself.

The last step is perhaps the most difficult part because of how we are raised. We were taught to be selfless, to put others’ needs before our own. Being selfish is a crime, a sin.

It is not wrong. But it is not entirely right either.

Here is a simple analogy. Your family shares a television. Everyone would watch it at the same time. Therefore, to be fair, one person gets to decide what the family watches for the day, and the next person will decide the next day. Would you give up your right to decide what to watch to make your family happier?

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There is no right or wrong answer. But remember: it’s okay to say no. It’s okay to root for yourself sometimes. Because how are you going to love someone if you don’t love yourself?

There is no one as important as yourself.

Yes, humans are social creatures. There is no denying that. But don’t get sucked into the never-ending loop of satisfying and impressing others and ignoring yourself. Gently, gradually, let yourself remind you that there is no one as important as yourself.

Featured photo credit: Picjumbo via Picjumbo.com

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Eamon Suen

Student, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

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Last Updated on October 13, 2020

12 Things High Self-Esteem People Don’t Do

12 Things High Self-Esteem People Don’t Do

Having high self-esteem is important if you are aiming for personal or professional success. Interestingly, most people will high levels of self-esteem act in similar ways. That’s why it’s often easy to pick them out in a crowd. There’s something about the way they hold themselves and speak, isn’t there?

We all have different hopes, dreams, experiences, and paths, but confidence has its own universal language. This list will present some of the things you won’t find yourself doing if you have high self-esteem.

1. Compare Yourself to Others

People with low self-esteem are constantly comparing their situation to others. On the other hand, people with higher self-esteem show empathy and compassion while also protecting their own sanity. They know how much they can handle and when they can offer a helping hand.

In the age of social media, however, social comparisons are nearly ubiquitous. One study found that “participants who used Facebook most often had poorer trait self-esteem, and this was mediated by greater exposure to upward social comparisons on social media”[1]. Basically, you will feel worse about yourself if you are constantly getting glimpses into lives that you consider to be better than yours.

Try to limit your time on social media. Also, when you do start scrolling, keep in mind that each profile is carefully crafted to create the appearance of a perfect life. Check yourself when you find yourself wishing for greener grass.

2. Be Mean-Spirited

People with low self-esteem bully others. They take pleasure in putting other people down. People with positive self-esteem see no need to down other people, choosing instead to encourage and celebrate successes.

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If you find that you feel the need to put others down, analyze where that’s coming from. If they’ve had success in life, help them feel good about that achievement. They may do the same for you one day.

3. Let Imperfection Ruin Your Day

Perfectionism isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but obsessing over making everything perfect is a sign that you have low self-esteem and can lead to never-ending negative thoughts. This can turn into an inability to solve problems creatively, which will only make self-esteem issues worse. 

Those with high self-esteem disconnect from the results and do their best without expecting perfection.

People with that kind of confidence understand that messing up is a part of life and that each time they aim and miss success, they’ll at least learn something along the way.

If you miss the mark, or if your plan doesn’t work out exactly as you would have liked, take a deep breath and see if you can pivot in order to do better next time.

4. Dwell on Failure

It’s common to hear people dwelling on all the ways things will go wrong. They are positive that their every failure signals an impossible task or an innate inability to do something. People with healthy self-esteem discover why they failed and try again.

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People with higher levels of confidence also tend to adopt a growth mindset[2]. This type of thinking supports the idea that most of your abilities can be improved and altered, as opposed to being fixed.

For example, instead of saying, “I’m just not good at math; that’s why I did bad on the test,” someone with a growth mindset would say, “Math is difficult for me, so I’ll have to put in some more practice to improve next time.”

Next time you experience a failure, check out this video to help you believe in yourself again:

5. Devalue Your Self-Esteem

People with high self-esteem value their own perception of themselves – they understand that they come first and don’t feel guilty about taking care of themselves. They believe charity starts within, and if they don’t believe that, they’ll never have a healthy self-image.

Self-care is often top of the priority list for people with self-esteem. For some ways to practice self-care, check out this article.

6. Try to Please Others

They can’t please all the people all the time, so confident people first focus on doing what will make them feel fulfilled and happy. While they will politely listen to others’ thoughts and advice, they know that their goals and dreams have to be completed on their own terms.

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7. Close Yourself off

Confident people have the ability to be vulnerable. It’s those with poor self-esteem that hide all the best parts of themselves behind an emotional wall. Instead of keeping the real you a secret, be open and honest in all your dealings.

As Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly, points out, “Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen”[3]. When you embrace each facet of who you are and allow others to see them as well, it will create deeper, more meaningful connections in your life. When that happens, you’ll realize that perfection doesn’t lead to people liking you more.

You can learn more about the power of vulnerability in this TED talk with Brené Brown:

8. Follow and Avoiding Leading

People with low self-esteem don’t believe they can lead, so they end up following others, sometimes into unhealthy situations. Rather than seeking a sense of belonging, people with high self-esteem walk their own paths and create social circles that build them up.

9. Fish for Compliments

If you’re constantly seeking compliments, you’re not confident. People with high self-esteem always do their best (and go out of their way to do good deeds) because it’s what they want to do, not because they’re seeking recognition. If you need to hear compliments, say them to yourself in the mirror.

You can even try some positive affirmations if you need a confidence boost. Check out these affirmations to get started.

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10. Be Lazy

People work harder when they have high self-esteem because they’re not bogged down by doubts and complaints. Those with low self-esteem end up procrastinating and wasting their energy thinking about all the work they have to do rather than rolling up their sleeves and just getting it done.

This may also bounce off perfectionism. Perfectionists often feel intimidated by certain projects if they fear that they won’t be able to complete them perfectly. Tap into your confidence and simply do your best without worrying about a perfect outcome.

11. Shy Away from Risks

When you trust yourself, you’ll be willing to participate more in life. People with low self-esteem are always on the sidelines, waiting for the perfect moment to jump in. Instead of letting life pass you by, have confidence in your success and take the risks necessary to succeed.

12. Gossip

People with low self-esteem are always in other peoples’ business – they’re more interested in what everyone else is doing than themselves. People with high self-esteem are more interested in their own life and stay out of others’ affairs.

Instead of participating in idle gossip, talk about some positive news you heard recently, or that fascinating book you just finished. There’s plenty to talk about beyond what this or that person did wrong in their life.

The Bottom Line

Self-esteem is to success in life. People who maintain a healthy level of self-esteem believe in themselves and push themselves to succeed, while those with low confidence feel a sense of entitlement.

If you need a boost in your self-image and mental health, avoid negative self-talk and the other mistakes of people with low self-esteem. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

More Tips on Building Confidence

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Psychology of Popular Media Culture: Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem
[2] Brain Pickings: Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives
[3] Forbes: Brene Brown: How Vulnerability Can Make Our Lives Better

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