When I was younger, I spent a lot of my life caring what other people thought of me. Honestly, it was just a bunch of stress that I never needed.
It started during my childhood. My parents always had high expectations for me. I always had to be what their idea of a well-behaved girl should be; disciplined and reserved, having perfect grades and daily habits. It was my responsibility to be the perfect role-model for my sister. Everything that she should strive to be.
Even without my parents there, I became very aware of everything I did and said, always careful to do whatever was expected of me. My parent’s strict ethic unconsciously filtered into my everyday life. I started to care greatly about what everyone else thought about me. I was constantly trying to fulfill the image of who everyone else thought I should be, and it started stressing me out.
I didn’t know how to manage to stay true to myself while still making everyone else happy. It wasn’t until I grew older and discovered my true passion that I realized how powerful my own voice could be.
Shut down the Voice of the Peanut Gallery
People give their opinions all of the time. They just can’t help it. We all want to be heard. But unfortunately, some of these opinions might be directed at you.
Whether they are positive or negative, these opinions are based on their own judgments and biases. Because their opinions are biased and reflect their own self interest; what they have to say isn’t always the best thing for you. After all, if you judge a fish on its ability to fly, it will always have a miserable life.
They don’t know your situation and they don’t have to live your life, so it’s nothing to worry about.
Besides, words hold a different meaning to everyone.
Language is nuanced, complex, and not at all universal. Everyone has different values placed on different words. What one person may find offensive, could be a compliment to a completely different person. You will never know what anyone’s true motive is behind what they are saying, so it’s better just not to worry about it.
Trying to fill their expectation isn’t worth it, especially if you’re not sure what they want from you.
When You Silence Your Voice, You Break Your Own Heart
If you present yourself as what you think people will like, you’re becoming a shell of yourself. Those who you are so eager to impress will never know what you are truly like or how you really feel. You’re doomed to always keep up appearances or else you risk revealing yourself as a phony.
Your true needs will never be satisfied and you’ll always feel empty. No one will ever like you for you.
We’re all adults. Everyone is responsible for themselves and their own happiness. At the end of the day, you’re the only one who has to live with yourself. You’re the only one who experiences your emotions, you’re the only one who faces your battles. Most people are just passing through your life, and they truly have no effect on your well being or future. Stop concerning yourself with pleasing them.
The only person’s expectations that you need to meet are your own. All you need to be happy is to live your life on your own terms. If this makes anyone uncomfortable, they can see themselves out.
Making Your Voice Heard
Don’t let anyone dictate how you think or feel. Be confident in your values and make your voice heard. When you value what other people think of you over your own opinions, you’re giving them the power to dictate your level of self esteem . Build up your own self-esteem by focusing on your strengths and being proud of them. Here’s an article about building leveling up self esteem: How to Build Confidence From Scratch
When you let other’s opinions overpower your own, you are letting them bury your potential. Everyone is born differently and you’re allowed to think differently than others regardless of how much you might respect them. The differences that you possess is what gives you the potential that others don’t have. If you try to ditch your differences to impress others, you’re denying your true self.
Let’s say you’ve just started a new job and you don’t really know anyone. You’ve noticed that all of your coworkers are very into Electric Dance Music, which you can’t actually stand, but you pretend to like it so that you can go out with them. Maybe you made some new friends, but they don’t know you for who you truly are. You’re making yourself miserable by listening to terrible music, and suppressing your true nature.
I made my voice heard by creating a blog to write about my ideas. I try to focus on gathering more perspectives to expand my horizons. I let others’ ideas influence me, but they don’t control my train of thought. My voice is still my own.
Create Growth Opportunities Out of Any Voice
Have a clear understanding of what people think of you and what you think of yourself. Take the time to consider other people’s opinions to see if they hold any water, but don’t weigh them with too much importance.
If those thoughts are possibly beneficial to your growth, they definitely deserve some consideration. Some opinions are given with good intentions to help you grow; but if those opinions are clearly based off of pure emotion and bias, just forget it. You don’t need that kind of unprecedented negativity in your life.
My parents always gave it to me straight. They wanted me to be a good role model for my younger sister and for her to follow all of my “good” behaviors. They always had good intentions and I respect their direction, but in the end I have to live my own life. Instead of doing everything that they expect of me, I choose to embrace what I value to live a happy and fulfilling life.
And that’s good enough for me.