Why do we care so much about what others say and think about us?
Why do we have to be on a positive pedestal in other people's eyes?
Can't we approve ourselves that we always have to expect approval from others?
Why do we let people define who or what we are, and what is worse is that we believe their definition of us?
Why do we sacrifice our own inner peace and happiness just to impress people who don't even matter?
Are we afraid to be chastised if we dont take the well trodden path? Are we reluctant to leave our comfort zones where there's power of majority and it's difficult to be a minor?
A friend got an invitation to an insignificant meeting in her religious community. She resents these meetings as she thinks of those as a waste of time. The meetings have no point whatsoever and afterwards she always feels depressed. But everytime she gets the invitation, she attends the meetings, which kinda puzzles me..
Me: Why do you still attend if you despise such meetings?
Her: Because I don't want to cause any havoc. If I didn't come, then the other people would start asking where I was, why I didn't come, etc. You know how they would judge..
Me: It is an invitation, which means attendance is optional right? And who gives them the right to question you where you were? Just tell them to mind their own business. They're not your parents, and you guys aren't that close either. And no matter how they judge you, you won't lose a feather either..
Her: A little sacrifice of attending isn't that harmful if I can avoid any complicated inconveniences.
At this point I shut my big mouth, but still I couldn't stop wondering why she had to do that. Sacrificing her own peace of mind only to avoid negative opinions of her fellow church goers, who're not important to her either. This pattern has been going for years. Why doesn't she want to break the chain? I know for sure that she feels really downcast because of those ungrounded questionings and judgments. Why doesn't she just leave the community?
Is it because she's afraid of the prospect of having to meet new people and new environment? Because there's some emotional security in the familiarity of her current community?
I can't really relate with her in this case as I love getting to know new people and I'm always craving for variety in life, trying out new things, challenging my own limit. We only live once and we have to make the best of it, enriching ourselves with new experiences etc and we shouldn't waste our time being afraid of what other people think of us, those who don't even matter.
As for me, maybe it's easier for me to not give a dam* about what others think of me. People always stare at me, even if I do nothing.. and who knows what they're thinking. And a stare is surely not a sign of a positive impression, is it? I used to care and I was down. "What's wrong with me? Why do people stare? Is this or that wrong? What're they thinking about me? Etc.."
But at one point of my life, I stopped caring. Either I do something or nothing, people stare, so why don't I do something then? ;) Sometimes I don't even know them, they do not have any influences in my life whatsoever and I mind what they think? How stupid am I?
And I started telling myself, this is me and my life. What they think is their own business, and what I do is my own responsibility. I can't please everybody, people will always be afraid of differences in life, I refuse to ease their fear and I won't waste my energy to please those who're not even important. No one can define me but myself and I won't place my happiness in other people's hands.
Someone used to ask me the definition of freedom.
For me, freedom means self acceptance and the courage to be different.
I think at that point where I stopped caring about people's opinions, I learned to accept myself, the fact that I'm different and I was getting more in line with the inner me. Or maybe it's the other way around? Once I embraced my fortes and flaws, I stopped feeling dejected by external opinions.
I'm still a long way from self enlightenment or awareness or whatever term people use, but at least I can say that now I'm happy with who I am and it is indeed liberating to be able to express myself without having to worry about what people (who don't matter) think.
Of course we all should bear in mind that too much is never good, which means I ,too, still have to strive after balance. (Note: I do listen to those I love..)
I never said it's easy to achieve my personal freedom, especially if we live in a small and homogenous community, but courage is all it takes. Courage to be different, courage to break the chains, courage to leave your comfort zones and venture out there, courage to spread your wings and embracing the possibility of falling. We shouldn't let our fear hinders us to go the distance.
(AMEN. *I may almost add :p)
And I'll sing the blues if I want