For as long as I can remember I’ve cared way too much about what other people think of me. So when I say I could care less, I really mean I should care less. As much as I try to play it off like it doesn’t matter to me, I care what people think of my appearance, what they think of my actions, what they think of my intelligence – the list goes on.
As I made my way to work this morning, walking by various people also on their way to work or running errands, I found myself making mental observations: ooh, cute dress or yikes, what were they thinking? Regardless of my taste or opinion, that person will go on to (hopefully) enjoy their day. My observation made absolutely no impact on them. And to be fair, it’s not as if I am purposefully trying to pass judgement on people – it’s just a natural reaction. We all do it and I don’t think anyone means any harm or can really be faulted for it.
But that got me thinking, all of these people are likely making observations and forming opinions about me as well. Hm, I wish I would have spent a few more minutes picking out my outfit this morning. Are these the best earrings with this top? Maybe I should have put in a little more effort with my eye makeup today. Darn! This nail polish completely clashes with my outfit. And then I had one of those ah-ha! moments – it all comes down to priorities.
Instead of spending 15 minutes fashioning the perfect outfit, I packed my gym bag. Instead of perfecting my winged-eyeliner, I packed a healthy lunch. Instead of trying on multiple pairs of earrings, I spent an extra few minutes giving my puppy-girl some love and attention. Those were my priorities this morning. And anyone who formed an opinion of me on my way to work really didn’t impact me one way or another. But going to the gym , enjoying a healthy lunch and knowing my dog got a little extra TLC does.
I’m not saying we should all stop caring about what we look like or how we behave and completely disregard others’ opinions entirely. I personally think it’s important to take pride in your appearance. Who doesn’t want to feel good about what they’re wearing or what they look like? Do I like when I get a compliment on my outfit or hairstyle? Uh, yeah! Who doesn’t? I love fashion. I love makeup. And I love taking my time getting dressed up when I can carve out the minutes. But what I am saying is this: what is most important is how YOU feel about YOU and not what others think about you. I’m sure we all know that – but the majority of us (especially my fellow perfectionistas) could use the reminder.
A friend and I were talking the other day and she noted that with each passing year, most of us seem to care a little less about what other people think – and for good reason. With each year we become more and more comfortable with who we are and who we want to be. We know more about what we want out of life, what is important and again, what our priorities are. I think about getting ready when I was in middle school and not having the perfect outfit picked out the night before was my biggest nightmare. Now that I am in my third decade of life (argh!) I have a lot bigger fish to fry, different priorities and my biggest nightmare is definitely not picking out my outfit for the following day.
Let’s be realistic though, there are many occasions where others’ opinions can make an impact on your life. For example, I would absolutely love to show up to work with some yoga pants and a hoodie (and there are some cute ones out there!), but I’m fairly certain no one would take me seriously it simply just wouldn’t fly. Or of course I wouldn’t recommend wearing a white dress to a wedding to avoid upsetting a bride on her special day. So don’t get me wrong, my appearance at work and typical social gatherings is still very important to me. And I admit, I still care about others’ opinions more than I should. But for me, realizing that it’s a conscious decision about priorities somehow gives me a little bit of peace – makes me feel a little more in control. (I foresee a post on control issues in my near future…)
It’s not all about appearances either. Have you ever said something and then thought, “Crap, did I just say that out loud?”, or I hope no one took that the wrong way.” I have probably had that conversation with myself once a day over the past 20 years. Should one think before they speak? Umm, I think yes – it probably would have saved me from an awkward conversation or two. However, if we believe in what we’re saying or what we’re doing – no one else’s opinion matters as much. There are certainly repercussions to our actions, but within reason, at the end of the day we are the ones that have to live with ourselves. We have to live with how we prioritize, the decisions we make, the things we say and the life we choose to live.
I believe that with some truly conscious decision-making (and maybe a few more years) we can all care a little less.
And by the way, this is what I wore today. I would ask what you think, but I am trying to care less. 😉