How people see me and what people think of me has been one of my biggest social issues. I’m always concerned with what people say about me and what people think of me.
Sometimes, when I post stuff on social media, my WhatsApp status or twitter, for example, or I say stuff, I feel bad for myself if I post something that says different about who I am in person. I’m picky with what I say or post because I don’t want anyone to see me as anything other than what I am.
While most people think that the opinions others have about them “is their business,” I think everyone needs to be careful about their identity. It is okay not to give a damn about what people think of you, but the question is, can you defend what you are and what you aren’t when people’s opinions about you come to light?
Someone who is supremely self-confident can shrug off unreasonable criticism. They can even tolerate being ostracized. But when everyone thinks ill of you—even if they are not necessarily people you admire—it is hard not to feel depressed.
In general, strangers’ opinions should not matter very much, and it is also important not to measure yourself by the standards of other people.
But of course, how much we would be concerned about anyone’s opinion would also depend on just what that opinion is. For example, if someone thinks I’m a fraud because of something I said or posted, I will have to take heed. Suppose someone thinks you are a pedophile, a rapist or a rape apologist. In that case, there will likely be repercussions that you cannot ignore.
But if a stranger thinks your hair is too long, or your laugh is too loud, you should not care. They don’t know you.
Some people will take one look at you and like and approve of you, and some won’t. But it should matter why they don’t approve of you. Is it for a bad reason or just because you share different views?
Suppose you share different views, habits, or beliefs. In that case, it shouldn’t matter, especially when they’re merely acquaintances because we’re entitled to our own lives and how we choose to live it, but the opinions of immediate family: spouses, children, and parents matter. The opinions of bosses and close friends should matter a lot, although not as much as family.
The opinions of colleagues and neighbors should matter somewhat less. For acquaintances, it should not matter very much. Finally, for people you encounter in the street or casually at a party, it should not matter at all. But notice the specific order of people.
Though we’d like to deny it, people’s opinions do matter to us. Why? Because people matter. Some people matter, and what they think of us will affect us one way or another.
Take your boss, for example. You think he’d be happy seeing you tweet or say something that could affect his company or brand? Or your business; if you tweet offensive or post offensive stuff online, what do you think your customers will say? Or your family and friends even. If you’re constantly in the habit of posting offensive or embarrassing stuff online, do you think they’ll be happy?
Unless you can defend the opinions of others effortlessly, then feel free to do as you like. Still, when it comes to people that matter, you should worry about what they think of you.
I’m fond of hearing “all na cruise,” but if you lose a job based on a wrong impression, how do you explain that you were on a cruise?
Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices instead of expressing his opinions courageously and honestly. (Albert Einstein)
When other peoples’ opinions are hurtful and harmful, some of us pretend not to care. There are a few good pretenders, but very few people truly don’t care what others think of them.
Sometimes we really don’t want to care what others think of us. Sometimes, we succeed. Most times, we fail. Even a completely ridiculous and untrue opinion by a total stranger, which should not hurt us…does hurt.
When someone says something mean to or about us, it hurts. When someone ignores us, it hurts.
Some people become people pleasers to avoid this pain. They become Kow-towing, personality-less yes-men and -women who give other human beings too much power, treating them like gods.
Others do the opposite. They lock up their hearts, pulling out their masks of meanness and cynicism, looking down on all human beings as stupid, small-minded creatures whose thoughts are worth nothing.
Many of us alternate between the two. But people are not gods, and they matter. Every single one of them. And so do their opinions and words. Pause and reflect.
The key is not to dismiss or ignore people’s opinions as unimportant but to interpret it in the correct way or in a non-offensive because, in the end, you’re not living your life for them. Don’t pretend you don’t care what others think because, if you’re being honest, you do. You should (otherwise, you’d probably be a psychopath).
But the lesson here is not to give others’ opinions too much weight. Like all things in life, considering others’ feelings and opinions requires balance — acknowledging the worth of the person and their right to have opinions about you and realizing that their opinions about you are not always about you and are not always totally true.
No matter what others think, don’t allow that to overwhelm your sense of self. Base your identity in the truth, and you’ll face others’ opinions — both negative and positive — with the proper perspective. No amount of approval from an outside source will ever make you feel whole. You deserve to live your life for you instead of chasing an ideal your mind has created.
By: Kolamide Olawoye