I care what you think.
Yes, you, reading this post right now.
Or you, looking at that Instagram I just put up.
Or you, catching my eye as I enter the room.
Or you, listening to my comments in a group conversation.
Is it inherently wrong to care what people think? No. It’s actually quite natural. After all, a sense of belonging and self-esteem are major building blocks in our psychological makeup as human beings.
What’s also very natural, at least if you’re anything like me, is stewing over your actions and words, and those of others, to calculate one very important thing:
Am I liked?
Do any of these scenarios resonate with you?
- “When I walked in, she didn’t say hi. She doesn’t like me.”
- “Only two people liked my Facebook post. People think it’s dumb.”
- “No one laughed at my joke. They don’t think I’m funny.”
Writing this, I feel a bit like a 13-old-girl, but I’m a grown woman and thoughts like this run through my head.
Am I insecure? Sometimes. But for me, the heart of the matter is not insecurity or self confidence, it’s that I’m highly emotionally in tune with my surroundings.
I can sense when someone feels uncomfortable, frustrated or confused, maneuver situations with complex personalities, and connect with people in a way that’s meaningful to them.
Being emotionally aware is a double-edged sword, though. The same intuition that allows me to quickly react to the situation I’m in, can also control my thoughts and sometimes stifle my actions.
When I was young, I was painfully shy at school. At home, I had this booming, colorful personality, but among my peers, it was a different story. I was handcuffed by the fear of what they would think and how they would judge me.
I remember my mom telling me, “Ryan, you think about things way more than anyone else. People are mostly thinking about themselves, not what you’re doing.”
And it’s true.
If you’re like me, this is so important to remember, no mater how old you are.
Let’s think about those scenarios again:
- “When I walked in, she didn’t say hi. She doesn’t like me.” She was busy and most likely distracted, give her a break!
- “Only two people liked my Facebook post. People think it’s dumb.” TWO people liked it, score! Would I be all about telling two people a story in REAL life? Most definitely.
- “No one laughed at my joke. They don’t think I’m funny.” Ya, they probably don’t. But I know I’m funny and other funny people think so, too!
When you’re really “putting yourself out there,” I generally apply the Best Friend Litmus Test. Meaning, when retelling the story later to your best friends they say, “That totally sounds like something you would do!” or they just simply die of laughter. On the flipside, when the people close to you are surprised or concerned by your actions, then you know you need to re-adjust!
As an adult, I actually get a kick out of sharing seemingly “flopped” moments with people who get me. People not laughing at your joke totally becomes the joke later. And that’s what makes it funny!
To the avant-garde people of the world who really don’t give a hoot no matter the situation, hats off to you.
For the rest of us, we can’t just turn it off completely. But we can survive.
So yes, I care what you think. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. A great deal of good comes from it. Like with most things, it’s about balance. Sometimes, you simply must tell yourself that you are over-analyzing things. Other times, you can think about the chuckles you’ll get later among your clan, which for me are some of the best moments!