“Life is too short to worry about what others say or think all the time. Be YOU and give ’em something to talk about!”
We all desire to be valued and accepted, and we often dread the thought of being judged or doing something that might tarnish our image. However, the truth is that we’ll inevitably face judgment, experience embarrassment, and encounter people who won’t like us. In the grand scheme of life, it’s crucial not to dwell too much on what others think of us.
My freshman year in college. I vividly remember sitting at the front of a massive lecture hall during an abnormal psychology class. On that particular morning, I felt a bit off, with a nagging stomach cramp. Assuming it was a minor bug or indigestion, I soldiered on, gulping down a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats before heading to class.
I was one of those students who preferred sitting up front, so I navigated the steep stadium seating, positioning myself just five rows away from the stage where the professor would lecture. About 15 minutes into the class, my stomach cramps intensified, and I sensed what was coming next. I had roughly 60 seconds before I would inevitably vomit in front of everyone. My options were limited:
- Dash up the stairs, squeezing past five people to reach the entrance, and hope I could find the bathroom.
- Run down the stairs to the nearby emergency exit, risking public embarrassment if I didn’t make it in time.
- Put my head between my legs and quietly throw up on the floor.
Option 3 won. Surprisingly, my vomiting was remarkably discreet. It wasn’t a violent, messy affair, so I hoped only a few nearby students had noticed. I took off my sweatshirt, which was tied around my waist, and placed it over the remnants of my half-digested cereal. Glancing around nervously, I wondered what to do next.
Nobody had said anything, so perhaps no one had noticed. I slouched in my seat, glanced at my watch, and tuned out the professor, counting the minutes until class would end. Throughout this ordeal, I couldn’t help but fret over what others were thinking:
- “What are the people around me thinking, probably that I’m hungover?”
- “What if someone I know is in this class and spreads the embarrassing story to others?”
- “Can I ever return to class after this? Maybe I should drop out!”
As the class concluded, I waited for others to disperse. A kind-hearted guy approached me gently and asked if I was okay. I responded with a sheepish, “Just a little embarrassed.” And you know what happened next? Life went on. I attended class the following week, and nobody mentioned a thing (although there might have been a reason why I had extra personal space). Life continued, and as a bonus, I probably gave a few people a funny story to share during holiday gatherings that year.
Why did I care so much? My sickness didn’t harm anyone intentionally. I hadn’t orchestrated the episode to gain sympathy from the professor for a better grade. It simply happened because I was afraid of not fitting in, of becoming a laughingstock, and of the potential impact on my social life.
Fear of judgment, embarrassment, and non-acceptance often fuels anxiety. While seeking validation and yearning for acceptance is natural to a certain extent, overly prioritizing others’ approval can lead to losing one’s true self.
Before we jump into not giving a shit, I think it’s important to point out that yes, sometimes you should give a shit in life.
When You Should Give A Shit…
Personal Relationships: Your relationships with family, friends, and loved ones require care and attention. Empathy, understanding, and effective communication are crucial for maintaining healthy relationships.
Responsibilities: Fulfilling your obligations and commitments, whether at work, in your community, or within your family, is essential. It’s important to take your responsibilities seriously and meet your commitments.
Professional Development: In your career, striving for excellence, continuous learning, and professional growth are important. Giving your best effort at work, meeting deadlines, and striving for excellence in your field are ways to advance in your career.
Financial Responsibility: Managing your finances wisely, paying bills on time, saving for the future, and avoiding unnecessary debt are all aspects of financial responsibility that require careful attention.
Ethical and Moral Considerations: Upholding your values and principles, and acting ethically and morally in various situations, is crucial. It’s important to care about the impact of your actions on others and on society as a whole.
There are various scenarios where caring is justified. What I’m advocating for is to stop caring excessively about being embarrassed or undervaluing yourself because of what someone else (even a stranger) might think.
- “Stop doing that; people are watching!”
- “What if I trip while walking up to accept my award in front of the room?” (Think of Jennifer Lawrence’s graceful response in a similar situation!)
- “What if I fail?”
- “What if I don’t finish and get laughed at?”
In these moments, you allow other people to dictate your thoughts and actions. Why prioritize people-pleasing or fear of judgment over being true to yourself?
Not giving a shit doesn’t mean you disregard how your actions affect others; that would be inconsiderate. Instead, it’s about where you invest your time, energy, and emotions. It’s about designing your own life and creating your unique recipe. It’s about being aware of your decisions and taking responsibility for your actions while dismissing negative external influences beyond your control.
By the way, it’s easier said than done because, by nature, we do care about what others think. So, how do we stop caring excessively?
Four Ways to Stop Giving a Shit:
1. Ask Yourself Why: Begin by understanding why you care so much about others’ opinions. Research suggests that the need for approval often ties to self-esteem. Compliments, kind gestures, and acceptance feel great, as they provide a sense of belonging. When approval is lacking, it can be unpleasant. Think of the positive feelings you get from “Likes” on your Facebook posts. So, ask yourself, “Why do I care so much about ____?” and jot down your answers.
2. Stop Thinking You’re That Important: In reality, the person you fear will judge you probably either A. Doesn’t care or B. Will forget about your actions or words within minutes. It’s somewhat narcissistic to assume that everyone is deeply concerned about your every move when, in reality, most people are absorbed in their own lives. Most judgments, if any, are fleeting.
3. Remember That Everybody Judges: Judgment is a part of human nature, and we all engage in it to some degree. If someone judges you, unless their accusations could genuinely harm a relationship, job, or your safety, let them judge. It might sting for a moment, but you’re human too, with the capacity to judge. Be aware of that and let it go.
4. Eliminate Toxic People: Strangers’ judgments matter very little, but those of people close to you can cut deeper. Surround yourself with individuals who uplift and support you rather than constantly passing judgment. If your inner circle constantly makes you feel embarrassed or questions your every action, they might not be the right people for you.
Life is too short to be constantly worried about others’ opinions. So, go ahead and pursue your goals, dance to your favorite song in the grocery store, post that Instagram photo you’ve been hesitant about, or take that step toward something you’ve always wanted to do. People will judge, but what they think ultimately doesn’t matter. It’s your life.
Be a good person, be a kind person, have fun, laugh a lot and be you. Stop spending so much time on what other people think or you are going to miss out on living your life, for YOU! You just have to take that step and do it!
Remember, You Got This!