Our Everyday Power

Komal Vachhani
6 min readSep 13, 2022

Paradoxically — we are not as powerful as we think but are more powerful than we think. We don’t have the capacity to change the past or other people’s emotions but we have the great accountability to choose how we respond to outcomes that we didn’t choose.

For the better part of my life, I cared a lot about what people thought of me. I used to have a hard time saying “no” to people and I often found myself signing up for things I really didn’t want to do.

If you were in elementary or even middle school when Frozen was released, you have an idea of how big of a deal that movie was. As it so happens, our talent show auditions were right around the corner and my friends were adamant about doing a “group duet”. With four people. You can see where I’m going with this. It wasn’t pretty. Every time I remind myself about this, I’m always conflicted between sending those teacher-judges apology notes for what they had to bear through, or “You’re Welcome” notes for the complimentary entertainment. Regardless, if you asked me to audition for the talent show singing “Let it Go” today, I’d simply get up and leave.

I’m all for trying new things, but I definitely could have lived without the mortification. My friends today, in the most loving way possible, would tell me to stick with academia. Seriously. I cannot carry a single note in a bucket.

Anyways, I’d always get roped into things like this, gradually progressing into things that were bigger commitments than what I could handle. I loathe the term “people pleaser”, but that’s kind of who I was. Now that I reflect back on it, it was such a self-destructive type of person to be. I put so much value in what other people thought of me that I constantly lost sight of my own full potential.

And this didn’t just stop at doing things people wanted me to do. Their words, actions, and behaviours all used to affect me rather heavily; especially the negative ones. Chew on this quote for a second.

“It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.” — Marcus Aurelius

It’s human nature to get caught up in what other people think. And further, to get defensive about it. We often feel the need to justify who we are and the things we choose to do.

It took me a while to understand the following concept, but ever since I have, I’ve stopped taking people’s remarks so personally.

We need to understand that what people say to us is entirely subjective. There’s a reason we have friends and others that we’d consider the opposite. People respond to our looks, personality, thoughts, and other personable qualities in entirely different ways. We’ve always heard the quote, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” being thrown around. However, we don’t fully comprehend how applicable it is in various scenarios.

As a child, I’d get upset when someone used to call me “stupid” or “dumb”. My mom always asked (and simultaneously answered) the same question, “Well, just because they say it, does it make it true? No, it doesn’t.” That line always kind of bugged me because I couldn’t help but dwell over the fact that if one person thought about me in that way, maybe others did too. And you know what? Maybe they did back then, who knows? Then there were the people on the other end of the spectrum. The people who raved about how “smart” I was, or how envious they were of certain qualities I possessed.

Varying comments like these result in mountains and valleys of ego boosts and drops. Egos are very dangerous things. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always great to toot your own horn or have your horn tooted every once in a while to polish up that confidence, but it’s essential to find your middle ground ego and stick with it.

Ultimately the comments people make towards us are simply opinions based on their beliefs. Opinions don’t ever have Boolean values attached to them. This begs the question — Why do we assume their speculations to be true and give them the power to discourage us? It’s simple — because of ego and our naturally egocentric attitudes. We think that everything happens to us because of the way we are. We subconsciously start doubting ourselves — Why doesn’t this person like me and what can I do to change their mind?

Newsflash. They don’t make those comments about you because they don’t like you. Being mean is just a byproduct of inner self-esteem issues. These people compare the traits they possess to yours and bring themselves up by bringing you down. Likewise, if someone fancies you — and before you celebrate — it’s not because you’re a wildly fantastic person yourself. They like you because you reflect the traits that they value. For this exact reason, the way someone behaves with you tells you more about them than it ever will about you. This is typically a hard pill for us egomaniacal humans to swallow, but when we set aside our narcissism, we’ll realize how much inner peace it brings us.

I’ve always been a huge fan of the children’s show, Arthur. Revisiting this show as an adult makes me realize how emotionally intelligent this aardvark is for being a third grader. I’d specifically like to spotlight S1E1, the episode where the poor bloke gets glasses and everyone teases him for it.

For the first half of the episode, he attempts to purposely lose his glasses to rid himself of the teasing. Whereas for the second half, he sucks it up and struts around in them. While the ending may seem inevitable (for who wants to remain with terrible eyesight?), what really happened there is that he, quickly, reclaims his power and takes away the value he once put towards those comments. Arthur’s new I-don’t-give-a-damn attitude shocks everyone and then eventually, everyone jumps on the glasses-are-cool bandwagon.

Now, Arthur clearly wasn’t in the wrong. At first glance, everyone’s reactions towards him seem like basic grade school insults, but in actuality, it’s deeper than that. Everyone was really just projecting their inner jealousy and misdirected self-protective behaviours.

  1. Francine’s envy was triggered because she scored better than him on math tests due to him being unable to see the problems on the board clearly. Arthur having proper vision would take away her competitive advantage.
  2. Everyone else chortled along because they were bystanders who didn’t want to be called out for not having a sense of humour. Performance for validation. I bet even characters with glasses laughed along.
  3. I’d like to credit Buster for initially siding with Arthur, but of course, he couldn’t handle not being the one who made people laugh. He started making his own “four-eyed” jokes to dethrone Francine, who was portrayed as the temporary class clown.

It’s evident that each character behaved the way they did because of who they are; not because of Arthur’s new glasses themselves. The producers of this show do a terrific job of outlining each character’s persona and insecurities — especially considering this was the very first episode of Arthur ever.

The key takeaway from that episode is to decide how much importance you want to put in people’s words. People will never actually have the control to make you feel a certain way.

Once you fully digest this, you’re going to be indestructible. Kidding. Words sting sometimes, but keeping this idea in your back pocket helps reduce the impact they have on you. You’ll never satisfy everyone. People’s comments on you will only hurt you if you give them the power to. So just don’t. You have ownership of your own power. Give it to people who treat you in the way you deserve. 🔌

Komal

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Komal Vachhani

Hey, I’m Komal. I like to put my thoughts on life into writing to reflect on later. Follow along for growth and more learnings!