I don’t care what you think. That is, I don’t really care what you think about me. A few months ago, I would have … well, I would have been afraid to say that. Because I’d have worried that you would think it sounded selfish. Lately, though, I’ve learned a few things about myself and the world.
The first is this: worrying about what other people think has very little to do with other people. It’s all about you. Me. Whomever is doing the worrying.
Think about it: in the sentence “I worry about what people will think,” the unspoken bit at the end is “about me.” Now what sounds selfish?
Once it occurred to me that there is literally no way to make everyone happy—someone is always going to disapprove of my life choices, no matter what—and in fact, no way to make anyone feel anything in particular, and thus I might as well be myself … That freed me to be who I want to be, certainly, but it also had a side effect that I did not expect.
When I stopped worrying so much about what other people think, I became more genuinely concerned about how other people feel. And without a lot of intent on my part, that has changed how I interact with the world. I freely compliment strangers and give myself a mental high-five when I see their eyes light up. I send thank you cards to people I know just for doing what they do. I cherish and love family and friends more than ever, even when it’s hard. Loving myself, really loving myself, has freed me to love others.
Change is a journey, and mine has not always been easy on me or the people around me. Learning to be myself is sometimes messy and clumsy and awkward and difficult, but I am trying to have patience with the process, because I know the end result will be worth it. As e.e. cummings said, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
Here’s to becoming who we really are. May love and green lights speed us on our journeys.