Our too-frequent preoccupation with what others think of us is part of human nature, granted, but it often feels exacerbated x a million in the online world.
Here, everyone is free to share their opinion (fine) or worse, troll others as and when they wish, based on assumptions and often, non-truths.
A win for a democratic, decentralised internet yes, but a complete and utter fail for virtual and IRL bullying.
And this is why I’ve written this post. Blogger friends are constantly complaining that others have tried to manipulate their words or destroy their confidence online and I’ve had enough.
It ‘s VITAL we do not allow others’ opinions cloud our own judgement, ruin our morale or STOP us from doing what we love.
And here’s the thing, I wanted to share a recent development I’ve personally undergone on the matter- I’ve literally stopped worrying what other people think of me. 100%. LIBERATING, is not the word. OK it’s totally the word!
I feel free, and a bit like a bully who relies on your zest for his/her approval, once you stop seeking it from others, you immediately garner respect because guess what? You respect yourself.
But let’s rewind a moment back to the catalyst moment of change (with a year beforehand laying the foundation as my attitude has slowly shifted).
I met up with a wonderful friend of mine, the renowned (and utterly hilarious) actress Harriet Thorpe in what manifested as a ‘turning point’ of a lunch for me, in London.
As I sobbed over banging my head on a taxi door (ouch) and shared how thoroughly exhausted I felt both physically and emotionally at that point in time (due to various issues including an unwell relative, the endless juggle and hustle- and HONESTLY, the overwhelming pressure I sometimes (not always) feel as a public-facing as a blogger), Harriet made everything better with these 10 words,
‘What other people think of you is none of your business’.
So simple yet so true.
It made me think.
Why should we care so deeply about what other people think of us?
What matters surely above everything else, is how we think of ourselves and the thoughts of those who TRULY know us (warts and all).
Side note: if others you trust, tell you that you’re too hard on yourself or you’ve spent years putting yourself down, it’s time to see someone professional to help with that, to rebuild the real picture of who you are or whom you want to be.
…I admit, I think historically I’m a bit of a people-pleaser, I was always academic and possessed this immense, often overpowering drive when it came to pursuing my dreams, to achieving my goals.
That commitment to striving for what I believe in and love, often with sheer determination and tenacity feels part of my DNA (I was born that way, baby) and reflecting on my own parents’ achievements as university lecturers and entrepreneurs respectively, has served to influence me.
Undoubtedly seeing my own parent’s achievements as a blueprint has inspired everything I’ve personally achieved from exams at school to receiving an MA with distinction in Screen Drama from Goldsmiths, University of London aged 21 before working as a multi-award winning TV and film director, pre-kids and new blogging career.
I think if I unravel it further, one of my key incentives has been making my parents proud. The weight of responsibility to achieve has always felt palpable. My Dad is somewhat of a ‘Stage Dad’ (he’d admit this himself, I’m sure) pushing my brother and I academically as kids, which, while we loathed it at the time, did admittedly put us both in good stead later on in life.
It’s not the way I’d operate personally with my own kids but undoubtedly his intentions came from a good place.
With that ingrained work-ethic along with my passion for the arts and unflinching determination to succeed as a filmmaker primarily in what is still a male-dominated field with only 7% of directors being women, proved a vital foundation for my on-going creative life.
To overcome adversity, to power on, to never stop learning, to collaborate, support and frankly define your own success has been my life-mantra, built from experience.
I’ve always been ambitious but NEVER EVER at the expense of others. I’m not a ruthless person.
Team work makes the dream work as they say!
As a director, you personally drive a project yet work in a team, each individual’s contribution impacting the final outcome. You are only as strong as the weakest person in your team as my former Exec Producer would always say (usually when we were hiring)!
I feel the same now, when it comes to my career as a blogger and vlogger.
I started this blog whilst on maternity leave to give me something to do, to stimulate my bored brain and to help me rediscover my voice- I never once imagined it would become my full-time job, blogging careers in 2010 were reserved only for a select few and mostly in the US, it just wasn’t a ‘thing’ here back then.
I’m proud of what I’ve built here, a business I love which is constantly growing and evolving,
Most of all though, I’m content. With life. With myself. With what I have to offer the world however Disney ‘coming of age’ that might sound!
I think hearing my Dad refer to me as a success a while back helped too. The little girl in me high-fived the 35 year old I am now.
And that’s it too I suppose reaching 35 has been a marker for me in knowing who I am and what I want from life- and being careful about the energy which surrounds me.
I have a strong network of real friends, and as always, hugely supportive family. The only time I AM ruthless is when it comes to negativity and cutting it out. If people or situations consistently prove destructive, I walk away.
I’m also pretty good at self-reflection and holding my hands up when I mess up. We’re all infinitely flawed and life is about making sense of that and trying to person you can be.
But back to working online- sharing our lives and those of our family’s can mean facing unfair criticism, trolling and more (I’m lucky not have suffered this to a huge degree) but it’s present and has meant growing a thick skin has been necessary.
The more you exercise or relearn the negative behaviours of being obsessed with others’ views, the easier it becomes.
The more you let go, the more it feels like second-nature not to let immaterial things affect you.
It’s time to work on your self-worth and remember that as Harriet advises, ‘what other people think of you is none of your business’.
…Listening to the hugely inspirational Former General Secretary of the Labour Party Baroness Margaret McDonagh speak on Sunday at an event, only fortified this viewpoint.
One of the top 6 political campaigners in the world, she too mentioned she doesn’t care what others think of her.
YES! the room all wanted to scream. I want to be like Margaret.
We must not allow others’ opinions of us mould or cloud our own.
It is important that I add how much I DO value what those I love, think of me, though.
My close family and friends are 100% honest with me and tell me when I’m wrong and I, them- and that’s the key to real relationships, accepting the bad with the good whilst having each other’s backs and telling it like it is. Being an ‘honest mum’.
No one is perfect, we’re all just trying our best with the end-goal of being content.
Not worrying what others think of you unlocks that happiness somewhat.
It sets you free.
Someone doesn’t like or understand you?! That’s OK. Someone assumes things about you or jumps to conclusions? Who cares?!
We all view people and situations through the eye of our own experiences and baggage.
Try not to judge others and don’t sweat those who judge you.
You know you and that’s what matters.