It Doesn’t Matter What Others Think Of You, It Matters What You Think Of You
After a long month, I stare into my tapestry as I open my front door. I can’t help but notice the complexity and exoticness. It is only two shades of color: black and white, no room for grey, with a reoccurring pattern. I stare long enough to relate it to my own being.
I bounce other’s words back and forth between the right and left halves of my brain. The logical half comforts the other, my inner voice quietly trying to drown out the background noise:
“What others think about you is none of your business.”
“Your perception of me is a reflection of you.”
The right side of my brain encourages depth, a new journal, and set of ballpoint pens. The overwhelming buzz and desire to feel understood takes over. I long to justify what is happening inside of my brain to those I am growing apart from as their words attack my conscious:
“I’m seeing a different person these days than the girl I used to know.”
“If you focused on the positivity in your life, instead of feeling misunderstood, things will change for you.”
Truth is, people will never recognize what has changed within you, what makes you tick, what sets your heart and soul on fire, or what causes a rage within your bloodstream, unless they yearn to understand your soul.
I sure as hell hope I am different than the girl you used to know. I hope you are different than the person you used to be, too. The only constant in this world is change. Progressive growth is essential to character.
You’ll never be enough for those whose expectations and perceptions of you are stagnant.
I think back ten years ago to my teenage self: lost within my own surroundings, emotional outbursts that terrified anyone who stood witness, while I fought for independence and understanding in a world that I didn’t belong to or relate. I am still that imperfect human, yet I have evolved gracefully.
Only those who stick around long enough to see the caterpillar turn into the butterfly actually get to witness the transformation. It’s those whose eyes are so fixated on the butterfly, that they didn’t know the caterpillar existed in the first place.
I stare at my own reflection. For the first time in 26 years, I feel comfortable in my own skin. Validation from other people is no longer sought after or required. The last few years of my life flash: my lessons, heartbreak, flaws, yet my passions, goals, selflessness, kindheartedness, and compassion. I think about where I used to be, and about how I’ve gotten to where I am today. I think about the next challenging steps, and what I need to do to charge forward to accomplish my dreams.
The courage to be yourself in a world constantly trying to shape you is my personal definition of power.
After mentally rehashing other’s perceptions of me to the point of insanity, I have to agree as to why people think and feel the way they do. I am a walking contradiction. I want to help others, yet I tend to resist human contact. I want to be alone, but I don’t want to be left alone. I am curious, but I can be incredibly shy if you pique my interest. I either completely obsess over a topic, or I am aloof and indifferent. I love coming up with ideas, but will debate yours if I don’t agree with the logic.
Perception does not define reality. If someone is tearing you down, know it doesn’t make them stronger. If someone points out your negative flaws, their attributes don’t shine any brighter. When people say painful words, know it is probably because they are unhappy with themselves, but be aware karma could be helping you pay for sins you do not remember. I know I am paying for sins I do not remember.
If you feel the need to make someone feel less assured of themselves or have to call another person out, you may gain a false sense of superiority. Trust me, I know. I am the queen of foot-in-mouth disease. I have spoken painful words with good intentions, yet the brutal truth caused friction. The struggle remains in finding the balance between “hear me out…” and “I am keeping my mouth shut.”
At the end of the day, we’re all human. I have let the masses paint me in whatever color they choose. I encourage you to do the same, but maintain self-awareness. It takes being self-assured and incredibly strong to tune out and block hot needles being thrown at your heart made of gold. Hold your head to the sunlight and cue the sunglasses, even when it’s raining.
Wisdom comes from knowing that what others say about you is not your reality. It’s their reality.
However, feedback is essential to growth. Be aware of the difference between genuine and faulty characters. It’s hard to tell who is conforming to other’s opinions and who is speaking out of intellect and honesty to bring awareness to the people surrounding them. I have always fought to be the latter. The former has always made me withdraw from society. Never trade honesty for relatability. I am grateful for the people who have given me a taste of my own medicine. Gratefulness has a way of making it go down that much easier.
Let them paint you in shades of red, black, grey, white, blue…
Let them make you their favorite verse to discuss…
Let them try to explain your soul to someone who doesn’t know depth exists…
If you are going through darkness, may you find peace within yourself. If you speak up for others’ darkness, may you continue to radiate in the brightest way. Every morning wake up, turn the music on, shake it off, open the blinds, and plan for a brighter future. Take feedback and grow beautiful roses, dandelions, and daisies from it.
You can be yourself or you can be what others think of you. At the end of the day, neither will matter to those who have already painted you in the color they choose to see. But for the ones who hand you the paintbrush and open up their hearts, paint them in the brightest shades, even in their darkest times.
I am not here to convince anyone of my worth. I am here to remind you of yours.
Originally published on Thought Catalog December 2016