Several nights ago, as I was taking Ellie outside at my apartment, I heard footsteps coming down the stairs behind me. I looked up and saw a guy walking down the stairs towards us.
As he got closer, he looked up and remarked, “Uhh this was a bad idea.”
I assumed he was referring to the Labrador puppy without a leash he was holding in his arms. Everyone else but you, sir, understands that dogs should be leashed when you take them outside at an apartment complex…
But, to my surprise, his unleashed puppy was of no concern to him.
Instead, he looked down at his feet and said, “These are my sisters shoes. I just grabbed the closest ones I could find. I don’t normally wear these.”
So, of course, my eyes went directly towards his feet to see what he was talking about. Sure enough, his feet were sporting some sparkly gold, strappy sandals.
I tried not to chuckle, since it was obvious he was already embarrassed, but I assured him I hadn’t even noticed until he said something. And I probably never would have noticed.
And then it got me thinking.
So what if I did notice? What would that have meant to a stranger who didn’t even know my name?
How many times do we stress about something because of what what we think other people might say or think about it?
How many times do we notice the pimple that just popped up on our face and feel as if it’s the only noticeable thing about us? Or how many times do we avoid buying an outfit because somebody might think it looks weird or its not in style? How often do we avoid going somewhere we really want to go because someone might question if that was a good use of our money or not?
Daily, most of us, make decisions with the thoughts of what someone might say or think in the back of our heads. We don’t always wear or eat or go or say what we really want to, because we have to think about how that looks or sounds or appears to other people.
What if they think I’m weird? What if they think I’m uneducated? What if they think I’m lazy? Poor? Selfish?
So, what if? No, really.
What happens if they think any of those things?
Does it change who you are? Does it change what you stand for? Does it change what you know to be true?
It doesn’t. Other than causing anxiety for yourself, the opinions of others don’t really affect you on a grand level.
Sure, your reputation matters. Your name matters.
But what doesn’t matter is what so & so thought of you for eating 2 cupcakes when you should have eaten just one. Or what he thought of you for spending money on a vacation instead of investing in a 401k. Or what she thought of you for buying a floral dress to go with fluorescent patterned leggings. Or what they thought of you for taking a lower paying job to spend more time with your family.
And what matters even less, is the assumptions that they draw about you based on your actions.
My neighbor knew why he was wearing those shoes. I didn’t.
So what if I did notice them, and then wondered why he was wearing those shoes? Or what if I decided he was weird for it? Who’s in the wrong?
Me. For making an assumption based on actions I knew nothing about.
People might see what you did, but they don’t know why you did it. And, honestly, your “why” is none of their business.
So let them talk. Let them draw their own conclusions and form their own opinions. But let them do that completely absent of you. Don’t waste your time and energy wondering what their opinions are. Make decisions that will better your life, and actually work to better your life by unapologetically making those decisions.
Because in the grand scheme of things, what other people think about you doesn’t hold much water.
And lastly, as my mom always told me, don’t be so arrogant to think people are always talking about you, thinking about you, or noticing you. When everyone else is just as worried about what other people think, they don’t have time to worry about judging you.
So wear your sister’s shoes proudly if that’s what you decide to do. But don’t go pointing it out and explaining yourself to people out of fear of what they may think.
Live your life boldly. Be true to yourself. Be you. Wholly, completely, unapologetically you.