“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”— Dr. Seuss
I will be the first to admit that I have a tendency to take things personally. Being judged by others has always been one of my worst fears and something I avoided at all costs.
It affected several aspects of my life, but I was particularly insecure about my writing.
Although I’ve loved writing for as long as I can remember, nothing made me feel more exposed than letting someone read something I wrote.
The above quote from Dr. Seuss is a very wise one, and a theme many of my friends and family have been preaching for years, the message simply being: Stop caring about what other people think!
It’s not as though I didn’t understand the concept of this wisdom. The problem was execution. No matter how much I reminded myself that other people’s opinions shouldn’t matter, I still cared. It still stung when someone criticized me, or my work, or my choices.
So what’s changed? How is it I am suddenly posting my words and thoughts all over the internet?
It was partly the realization that fearing other people’s judgment is, in part, a symptom of low self-confidence. And if there is one thing I learned about confidence over the years, it’s that you won’t feel confident until you start acting confident. If I waited until I truly stopped caring what everyone thought before sharing my work, it would absolutely never happen.
So, I decided to act first, regardless of how I felt, and deal with the “consequences” of people’s reactions later. That was when my first blog – a knitting blog – was born.
It’s been a couple years since then, and I’m still standing! That being said, I also still care what other people think. A lot. It still gets me down when a writing pitch gets rejected, or criticized, or someone passes judgment on something I said or did.
But I also get over it. Better still, I can usually learn something from it. Sometimes listening to what others are saying can lend a new perspective or help refine my skills.
The times I can’t learn from another person’s opinion is usually when it has nothing to do with me. The world is overflowing with the insecurities of others, and in some people, it manifests as an irrational criticism that is solely designed to try and take you down a peg.
Once you’re able to differentiate between constructive criticism and hot air, it becomes a lot easier to take things less personally.
But at the end of the day, I still care what other people’s opinions, and that’s okay. The problem wasn’t that I cared about the opinions of others, the problem was that I feared them and let it affect my confidence.
Caring about what others think is pretty normal, and it can help us grow and learn.
Just don’t let it stop you from being who you are and saying what you feel!