What other people think of me is none of my damn business
Something that continually irks me about Australian culture is the way in which we approach success and people who step out of their designated mold.
It’s OK to ‘have a go’ or to enable a ‘fair go’ but beware, put in too much effort and it won’t take too long for people to let you know you’ve ‘gone too far’. That I can guarantee.
We Aussies love the notion of a winner, but we love to cut our winners down just as quickly.
Stuffed if I know.
I wrote about deciding to become ‘up myself’ in order to rise above the expectations of naysayers (tall poppy syndrome at its’ finest) here.
Like many home remedies, the very best immunisation for tall poppy syndrome is an easy, common sense application of not giving a flying f*&k about what other people think – or, more politely, repeating this mantra ad nauseam;
“what other people think of me is none of my business”
And, quite frankly. It’s not.
I still remember the first time a friend of mine exposed me to this saying. That was approximately eight years ago. And despite carrying the enlightenment in my back pocket for all of this time the ‘penny’ hasn’t dropped until quite recently.
The thing is, we all have many choices and among those choices is the volume at which we choose to live. We can live private, quiet lives or we can opt for louder, more opinionated existences.
Some time ago now I chose LOUD.
And then I stupidly wondered why I seemed to constantly fall under the judging eye of others. And, more to the point why I cared about that.
The other day I stumbled upon a person in my community who loathes me. In little communities, for those of us of who live out loud this is not an uncommon occurrence (and yes that’s both being loathed by and running smack bang into someone who loathes one). As I walked past the person the hairs on my arms bristled and I felt my heart thumping as we both stared a pathway straight ahead avoiding eye contact at all costs.
I considered stopping the person and asking what the hell I did to warrant this response. But then thought better of it and moved forward feeling more than bothered in the knowledge that I had not intentionally created this situation and that it wasn’t likely there would be a chance to redeem myself for whatever wrong-doing I had allegedly done. I’d forgotten at this moment that life, and people are not always entirely logical.
I skulked around the supermarket, yet again wondering if I should defy my value of local shopping and just get out of town to grab my supplies. But then I noticed something else, people were smiling at me – so, like a lunatic and despite a deep desire to sulk, I smiled back.
I ran into a few people I knew who were more than happy to acknowledge my presence and at this point that penny finally dropped.
I was shaping a future based on the actions of one judgemental person (note my own judgemental input here). I was ignoring evidence to the contrary of this person’s opinion and I was building a story according to the opinions that I’d implied following being purposely ignored by someone who really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of my life.
And then I noticed something that may be even more important.
When the naysayers react, they have heard the message.
And I know without any doubt that my message is coming from a good place.
Should these naysayers be productive, reasonable humans who truly wanted the best outcome in their community they may challenge my actions or opinions, they may pull me aside and ask for coffee or a reasonable chat or they even may pen a friendly letter including some helpful sequestions. (that’s a suggestion thinly disguised as a question).
But they don’t.
They ignore, they rant, they tweet, they stalk, they text and they white ant.
So – I’ve decided on the only reasonable response left.
To no longer care.
Because finally, finally I realise it to be true that what other people think about me is really and truly none of my business.