In Western society, our culture lives in an overfilled globe of unsolicited remarks. Whether that is from different ethnic backgrounds, tastes in style, body image, age, gender, social class, or religion, the list goes on. Instead of living a life free of judgment, society remains confined under a microscope. One wrong move can lead you to unrelenting scrutiny. My point is no matter what you do, many individuals will always have something to say about you. Although you cannot control what people think or say, what you can do to find peace of mind, is simply not give them any power.
At an early age, I became concerned about what others thought of me. I made decisions based on my loved one’s opinions, thus as well as their feelings. I was a people pleaser. I could not accept criticism, whether it was for my benefit or not. I would find myself constantly at a crossroads because I did not want to disappoint the people around me. However, when I made decisions based on their interests, I noticed I was not living my own life. I would allow others to think for me and decide on which experiences I should participate in out of fear of disillusionment. Nevertheless, it was not helpful for me to mature mentally or emotionally, thus stunting my growth into whom I want to be.
I finally took a stand at the age of 25. An old co-worker and I were discussing guys we liked. A guy I was attracted to, was not drop-dead gorgeous. In my opinion, he was not ugly either. I admired him because of his personality. Holding a conversation with him came easy. I conveyed feelings of anxiety to my co-worker that I felt around my friends because I knew they would judge him based on his attractiveness. I could not face the possibility of ridicule for seeing past his physical appearance and solely just liking him. I remember her asking me these questions;
“Does it matter if they don’t find him attractive? Is he for you or them?
If you live your life caring what others think about everything you do and choose, you will never know peace. Remember that this is your life. Do whatever makes you happy”
Her words rang like a Grand Church Bell on a Sunday. She taught me an invaluable lesson that I still apply to life today. I realize the key to peace of mind is understanding that we live in a judgmental society, but that does not mean giving validity to everyone. Not all opinions, criticisms, and advice are well-founded. There will always be dogmatic individuals, whether it’s from family, friends, or strangers behind a computer screen. Some will find a way to dish out unsolicited judgments on everyone else without observing their own life choices. It is entirely up to you to free your mind, glow with confidence, and shut down any negativity thrown your way. Give them no power!