The Number One Reason to Stop About Caring What People Think of You
By Thao Nguyen
One of the biggest goals in my life has been to be more comfortable with being myself and caring less about what people think of me. I’ve always wanted to be the kind of person who was just effortlessly myself without any anxiety about being judged. That kind of confidence is something I’ve seen in the people I admire most, and I’ve been really working hard to achieve it.
The main struggle with accomplishing this kind of self-assurance has been letting go of caring what people think of me. Everything I did in the public eye was carefully curated to make people think the best of me. I couldn’t understand how anyone could ever live in a way where others’ opinions didn’t matter. It was extremely frustrating feeling like I couldn’t be myself just because I cared too much about the assessments of both those I knew and those I didn’t. And up until very recently, this frustration was something I dealt with on the daily.
But amazingly, an argument I got into with a guy I barely knew changed my mindset completely.
I’m normally pretty reserved when I meet new people, tending to stay quiet and only piping up if I’ve got something witty to say. Of course, there’s an exception to everything, and I found my exception while talking to Bryant*. Bryant and I had hit it off pretty well at first, until he noticed I was wearing a rosary. He immediately stopped me in the middle of my sentence and said, “You know you’re really cute, but you should really question Catholicism.” He then went on a lengthy diatribe about how ignorant and bigoted it was of me to be Catholic. Everytime I tried to interject, he would talk over me and insist over and over again that I was dumb and ill-informed.
Under any other circumstance, I would’ve just walked away. However, my faith is one thing I will always defend. So I sat there and let him finish his rant, before I calmly refuted every point he made. But my arguments fell on closed ears, and he just started yelling again. I realized that nothing I said was going to change his opinion of me or Catholicism.But even more revelatory was that I didn’t care what he thought of me because his opinion of me doesn’t change who I am. That’s right.
A person’s opinion of you doesn’t define or change who you are.
Just because Bryant thought i was ignorant, doesn’t mean I’m ignorant. I understood then that I know who I am, and that’s really all that matters. People can have as many opinions about me as they want but their opinions don’t define my character. My own actions and words define my character. And this isn’t just limited to the thoughts of strangers or people I’m barely acquainted with. It applies to everyone.Even if the people who know and care about me the most think I’m annoying, dumb, or obnoxious, it doesn’t automatically make me annoying, dumb, or obnoxious.
Now don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean that people will always be wrong about you. The point is, for example, that if you’re a kind person, but someone thinks you’re mean, does not make you mean. The important things here are to know who you are, to continue to be who you are, and to carry on with conviction when others can’t see what you see in yourself. Continue to be the person you know yourself to be, and eventually the people who matter will see the same person you see.
*Editor's note: names have been changed for confidentiality.