One of the biggest things I’ve struggled with in my life is caring what others think. If you know me personally, this might seem a little strange, but I usually do care what people think- in the smallest ways that make huge ripples in my life. I want people to like me. I want people to like what I do and say and post.
It’s not only that I want people to like me- I get super anxious when people don’t like me. It makes me feel like I’ve done something wrong, and need to do everything possible to fix it. It’s been a problem I’ve been needing to work on for a while, and only recently have I been making strives in my “who cares what people think” journey.
It started when I went vegan. A lot of people disagreed with my decision to cut animal products out of my life. My dad argued with me. People mockingly asked me questions about plants having feelings. My health and my lifestyle were suddenly put on the chopping block because of a decision I made.
But for the first time, I didn’t care. I knew what I was doing was right. I was doing it for the environment and the animals, so why would I care what people think? For once, the possibility of people not liking me didn’t bother me, because I knew my actions had greater effects than just the mere opinion of people who’s opinions don’t matter.
Next was my hair. I read online about something called the “No Poo” movement. I decided to stop washing my hair with shampoo, conditioner, or any products. Just water. I knew my hair would be greasy at first, and that people would think what I was doing was gross. I knew some people might think I was gross. But I knew it would be better for me. I knew it would be healthier for the environment and my hair. So I decided to do it anyway. And you know what? None of my relationships or opportunities or anything changed (other than having more time in the morning from showering less).
Something I didn’t even notice I was doing for other people was shaving regularly. Now, I’m not a person who shaves her legs every day; sometimes my leg hair does get away from me. However, I typically shave my legs and armpits once the hair starts to get pretty noticeable. The past couple weeks, however, I started to ask myself why?
Having hair on my legs doesn’t bother me. Having hair on my armpits only bothers me once it’s been growing for a few weeks. So why do I strive to shave more often than every few weeks? I asked myself this question: “If you’re not doing it for yourself, who are you doing it for?”
The only person who’s opinion I really truly care about is my husband’s. It doesn’t bother him when I don’t shave. It doesn’t bother me when I don’t shave. So who is it I’m actually shaving for? Society? Traditional gender expectations? People I happen to pass who I’ll never see again? Coworkers who I have ten minute interactions with?
If you’re not doing it for yourself, who are you doing it for?
This question has been rolling around in my head about almost everything I do. I’ve started to question my own motivations for things, and I’m seeing how exhausting it is to live for other people’s pleasure, opinions, and approval.
I’ve been wanting a nose piercing for a few months. I was thinking just a stud, or maybe even a hoop after a while. Then a crazy idea came to me: What about a septum piercing?
I mulled it over for a few days, then for some reason I started asking people what they thought- Shane, a couple friends, and coworkers who barely know me. Shane was opposed at first, and then the idea grew on him. Jaycee said she wasn’t a fan of septum piercings but if I wanted to do it, I should go for it. My coworkers, however- people I barely know- told me that I most definitely should not do it. “It’s not you”.
They knew me better than I know myself, apparently, and a stud “is much more me“.
I convinced myself they were right. Their opinions of what I put on my face were more important than what I wanted for myself.
I let the septum idea pass, but then a couple weeks later, it was back again, as was the question I had been asking myself: “If you’re not doing it for yourself, who are you doing it for?”
So I did it. I went to a tattoo shop when I got off work by myself and got my septum pierced. I didn’t do it for anyone else. I did it because I wanted to.
I did it for me.
I know there are people that don’t like it. I know there are people who still think it “isn’t me”.
But you know what? It doesn’t matter. Because I didn’t do it for those people. I didn’t do it for the people who don’t like it, and I didn’t do it for the people who love it. I did it for me. Other peoples’ opinions are just that- their opinions.
I didn’t do it for them. I did it for me.
I’ve finally reached a point where I can do things for myself. I don’t need validation or approval from anyone else. If I want to do something and it doesn’t harm a living being or go against God’s word, why should I let other peoples’ opinions stop me?
Because if you aren’t doing it for yourself, who the heck are you doing it for?