It’s the complete opposite of what everyone tells you to do. No one ever says “pay more attention to the opinions of others.” It seems so counter-intuitive. We are taught to trust ourselves more than anyone else, that what other people believe about us doesn’t matter. All my life I have heard the same old lecture: stop worrying about what other people think.
Blah, blah, blah. If I had a penny for every time I heard that phrase, well, I probably wouldn’t be running in shoes with holes in the bottom.
This is a feat that at times seemed impossible. How does one cut out the nagging jibes in the background? How am I supposed to abruptly stop caring what my friends, co-workers, and grocery store clerks secretly think about me? These people are in my life and they matter. I see the same Tim Horton’s cashier several times a week. It’s important to me that our interactions have a friendly air. Procuring my mid-day coffee should not be a hostile activity. Furthermore, I think it is important to be considerate of other people. If we all wander around not ever thinking of the concerns of others, it won’t take long for the world to turn pretty miserable.
Obviously, I took the concept a little too literally. Shocking.
This is going to sound awkward but I am going to stammer it out anyway. Through conversations with my PH I have come to learn that perhaps I have been taking the wrong approach. The more inward I focus, the crappier I feel about myself. I am always going to be harder on myself than anyone else could be. It’s always a surprise when someone else says something kind or when someone views my actions from a positive perspective rather than a negative one. I will always search for and poke at the flaws and am stunned when others don’t do the same.
My PH has gently pointed out that perhaps I need to start believing my own press. Maybe instead of ignoring, I need to embrace, the opinions of others. It’s probably a good bet that our mail carrier – who I worry thinks we’re nuts based on all the packages we receive addressed to “Rescued Insanity – thinks better of me than I do of myself. It might be time I start to believe him.
Or her. I don’t think I’ve actually met the carrier in our neighbourhood yet. Which is probably a good thing for both of us. On our old street Shiva and the carrier had one sticky interaction too many. I am surprised he continued to deliver mail to our door at all. There were days I am sure he contemplated just throwing it on our lawn and dodging away.
It’s funny, and a little sad, that despite how many things have changed in my life between the years these two pictures were taken, I’m still very much the same person. I look a little different and my priorities have altered completely, yet I am still the same uncertain person inside. And you know… I think that’s okay. Who I am doesn’t need to change. How I view myself does. When I think about what the twenty-five year old woman in the photo above would think of the thirty-one year old woman in the first picture, I get stuck. Would she be proud? Would she be disappointed? I know she would think I am in desperate need of a hair cut.
I like to think she would understand. I hope she would see all the happiness in my life and brush off all the sad. My birthday gift to myself is that it doesn’t matter what she thinks any more. It never should have in the first place.