I’ve gained a little bit of stress weight over the last couple of months. In a bad moment today, a thought about starving myself passed through my mind. I didn’t take that thought seriously, but it reminded me of a different time in my life. Now, I’d much rather gain weight then be the slave to an eating disorder.
I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror, brushing my teeth as I got ready for bed. I looked at my stomach. What struck me was the fact that it really wasn’t big. At least, it didn’t seem that way now. I’d been a bit self-conscious of this extra weight I’d gained for weeks, but standing face to face with it at this moment, I didn’t think I looked bad.
Actually, I thought I still looked pretty good. Yeah, I’m a bit less toned than I was and my skin isn’t as clear as it could be, but I still think I look good. I still have a nice smile and warm eyes. I look like I take care of myself.
I might enjoy my appearance more if I was toned. A big part of my frustration though, is that I believe people respond to me differently when I’m thin. I might not be completely wrong in that thinking, but the difference pretty small. And it’s definitely not worth the trouble of worrying over. So then I wondered why I do worry about it. I gave it some thought. I thought about why it’s irrational; why in general it’s so irrational to care about what others think. Here’s what I came up with:
- Because People Don’t Care Too Much – first and foremost, nobody else is even capable about caring about your life as much as you do. Maybe you’re blessed enough to know some people that love you and want the best for you. But they’re living their own lives. If they thought about you half as much as they thought about themselves, face it..it’d be weird. Your mistakes, your shortcomings and your imperfections are yours. Even if other people don’t like them, they’re more concerned with their own mistakes, shortcomings and imperfections.
- The people who are right for you won’t be turned off– if someone rejects you because of your shortcomings, then you still win. You learn that this person isn’t the kind of person that’s going to stick around when times are tough. While it can be tempting to take this sort of thing personally, don’t. There are likely certain shortcomings that you have trouble tolerating in people too. Maybe you love those people on a deeper level, but it doesn’t change the fact that you don’t enjoy their company. (Personally, I can’t stand being around people that gossip a lot. I just don’t want those people in my life.) The good news is that people are all different. We all have different levels of tolerance for different traits. This doesn’t mean that you should stop showing respect to everyone, but it does mean that you shouldn’t try to force friendships to work. A fairly recent study found that approximately . only 50% of our friends actually like us anyways. (Saying they don’t like us is a bit misleading. More accurately, only about half of our friends view us as friends). But the point stands.. why the hell should we bother with ‘friendships’that aren’t reciprocated? We choose who we spend our time with, so we should spend time in friendships and relationships that are mutually positive. There are a lot of people on this planet. Try hard enough, and you will find people out there that love you (that you’ll love back). There are so many people in this world, that it would be impossible not to. Maybe it takes some work to find them. It also takes some work to create friendships with them. But the work is worth it.
- You’re responsible for your own happiness– You are responsible for your own happiness! Nobody else can make you happy, just as you cannot control anyone else’s happiness. I cannot stress this enough. If you’re not used to this idea, it can seem a bit sad at first. The thought of complete independence evokes this thought of separation; it can bring up the philosophical question of whether or not we are all fundamentally alone. I don’t think we are alone though, and I’ll tell you why being responsible for your happiness is a good thing. First and foremost, others may never understand our experiences in the way we do, but that doesn’t mean we can’t connect to them. It isn’t always easy to find friends that think similarly to us, or friends that will try to understand us, but it is possible to build genuine connections. The biggest challenge in relation to connection, is perhaps finding the right people to connect with. Now, taking responsibility for your own happiness is a good thing because you understand your mind better than anyone else can. You have spent the most time with yourself, you know your past and you know those secret desires and dreams waiting and burning in your heart. Out of everyone you know, you are in the best position to make yourself happy. This is true for everyone capable of making their own decisions. Once you truly realize this, and life accordingly, you’ll have so much more control over your life. This sort of responsibility turns a lot of hopeless road blocks into challenges that you can conquer. Or in the very least, they are challenges you can adapt to.
- In the scheme of things, it doesn’t matter- He’s grown up to be extremely successful in his career. He has a wife whom he deeply loves and 2 children that he’s proud of. In his spare time you can find him volunteering with his church, playing golf with his friends, and coaching middle school basketball. Unfortunately, his life is plagued. In his senior year of high school, Sydney wouldn’t go to prom with him because she thought his love for art was weird. This ruined everything. Not. He probably barely remembers who Sydney is.
- There are always going to be critics– No matter what you do in life, you won’t please everyone. You can be a freaking charity worker, and someone will be able to list of 100 reasons why you are doing everything wrong. People like to think they are rational beings. Sometimes we’re just judgey.
- We Can Change– If you take someones criticism seriously, then maybe it’s about something you already dislike about yourself. It that’s true, then change. This goes along well with taking responsibility for your own happiness. Making lasting changes also takes time and work. But if it is for something that will ultimately make us happier, then we already know that the work is worth it. **Important** Before making any big changes in our lives, it’s important that we do them out of love for ourselves. Don’t torment yourself to get results. Don’t give up your social life for 5 years so you can spend all your time studying. Don’t go for a job you don’t want because it pays more. Don’t starve yourself to be thin. Love yourself first. Love yourself first, and the rest of the work feels more doable.
- It does more harm than good– Worrying about what others think takes a lot of energy that could better be invested somewhere else. Take that energy and do something. Develop a skill, invest in a “mutually positive” friendship, volunteer somewhere, get a job, help out around the house, relax. You’re more valuable to everyone (although you’re always valuable) when you’re not worried about what they think. You are more valuable when you are acting like you.
The bottom line is that worrying about what others think is a waste of time. It’s unproductive, harmful and unnecessary. Not to mention, you’re an awesome person and you are capable of creating loving friendships with people who you love that will love you back. Have some compassion on yourself when you make mistakes. Yeah, you’re flawed like the rest of us. But you’re also beautiful, intelligent and have a unique story that the world could stand to here. I hope you never miss the chance to share it because you’re surrounded by people that act like they aren’t interested. Somebody out there will be happy to hear what you have to say.