How Do You Like Me So Far?

Bonnie writesDon’t answer that.

For some reason it is painfully important what people think of me. Not only is it important to me but I worry about it. I don’t know why that is, but it is. It always has been. I’m approaching 50 years old and still I worry about what others think of me. When I was young and tried to imagine 50 year-old me, I saw this very confident, savvy, successful grown up person who looked a little like me only more mature and waaaay more sure of herself. Oh, and she had beautiful clothes and drove an immaculate shiny expensive car. I never stopped to imagine how she acquired all the nice clothes and the fancy car which could be the reason behind why they haven’t actually materialized. Boy, did I miss the target. I’m none of those things. Not even the grown up part.

Why do I care so much about what people think of me? I don’t know, but I’ve been giving it some thought lately and after going back, way back, into my rusty memory bank I realize, sadly, that I’ve always been this way. At least, I know for sure I was like this as far back as 5 years old. Maybe, just maybe, I had been a confident self assured 4 year-old, but if so, it was all over by 5.

At 5, in kindergarten, I recall being mortified after being called out for wearing the same dress twice in a row. I abruptly learned that wearing anything two days in a row was not the “normal” thing to do. And by not doing the normal thing I therefore stood out from the crowd. I did NOT want to stand out from the crowd. I preferred to blend in unnoticed so I could quietly observe from the side lines; make up my mind about people and events at my own pace, without anyone watching me. But mostly, I just wanted to be liked. I feel the same way today. Suddenly, I was being judged. At 5. And so it began. To this day I will not wear any item two days in a row, at least not out of the house anyway.

Such insecurity! Even as I write this, I’m typing my shitty first draft (every first draft of anything is shitty – it’s a universal law) on my computer using Word™, and I’m worried my computer doesn’t like me and thinks I’m an idiot. My spelling is routinely underlined with angry red squiggly lines that scream at me “You can’t be serious! Really? You still don’t know how to spell ‘way’? It’s a three letter word for crying out loud!” “I know!” I silently scream back, (don’t want anyone to hear me and think I’m crazy) “I purposely added the extra a’s for dramatic effect!” At which point my computer, lets out a disgusted “Pht! Amateur!”

I long for the freedom to really and truly not give a hoot about what others think of me. I’d probably go without makeup and groan really loudly at the gym. Stare all you want, I don’t care what you think! I’d spontaneously invite people over for dinner without working for hours beforehand cleaning, tidying, planning and prepping for a meal. It’s only a bloody meal! I might go bra-less while wearing that pretty white top with the very thin straps, oh the freedom! I’d sing out loud and well within ear shot of others. And I’d dance all over the dance floor, maybe even beyond, with or without a partner, swinging my arms above my head, wiggling and shaking all my bits to the music. Yes, even to the BeeGees, actually, especially to the BeeGees.

Then I’d write more. I’d write true stories straight from my life and I’d write imagined stories, then I’d blend them both for fun and let the sentences run on and on and on. Next I’d share without having to worry if people liked or disliked what I wrote, or worse yet, didn’t care enough to read any of it. I wouldn’t worry that I might not be educated enough, sophisticated enough, witty or worldly enough to write and therefore I’d be completely free to just do it. And I certainly wouldn’t freak out if someone looked over my shoulder while I wrote my shitty first draft. Who cares? Not me! I’m free!

Recently I very sagely advised someone, a decade or two younger than myself of course, that as you get older you let go of caring so much about what others think of you. Yes, me. I told them that. It’s true. Even scared-n-insecure ol’ me has managed to get better at it, although it is still an issue for me. Something I need to work on. I’m trying. In the mean time, please, whatever you do,  do not look over my shoulder if you catch me writing. Seriously. Don’t.



  • Jacquie

    This sounds a lot like me. The 5 yr old me and the almost 50 yr old me. I think it’s great you care about what people think of you. I see it as being civilized. We do live in a world where we’re constantly being judged and it’s up to us to decide whose opinions matter and whose have absolutely no bearing on our lives. My husband’s opinion matters. My girlfriends’ opinions matter. My kids opinions only matter up to a point 🙂

    Confidence fluctuates weekly for me depending on my hormones. If you’re doing what makes you happy then your joy shines through and gives you strength. You know when you’re in the ‘sweet spot’ and all is right with the world. Keep writing and doing things that make you feel whole and the world will fall away.

    I really enjoyed the honesty in this post, Bonnie. You do it so well. xo

    (Isn’t it unreal how a comment at 5 yrs can mark a lifetime? Dr Phil would call this a “pivotal memory” considered the influence it had on you. Makes you wonder about all the things you said to your kids when they were young and impressionable! Yikes!)

    • Bonnie Johnson

      Thanks Jacquie! I always love to hear your perspective. Isn’t is strange how the opinions of complete strangers seem to matter sometimes. Ridiculous really. I’m going to keep striving for that ‘sweet spot’.
      Maybe all the pivotal memories I have are the reason my neck skin is starting to sag. Way too much pivoting! xo

      • Bazza

        If you aren’ the most beautiful woman inside and out! Quit your worrying, everyone loves you!

        Who are you kidding Girl, cinch up your pants, throw away the bras and ride your scooter into the sunset.

        Grab your piece of life, leave a little love behind and be happy your here with friends….. secret admirers… xoxo

  • Joan

    Boy does this sound way close to home…Ditto here…For example, after a night out I’ve been known to often lay in bed and think about whether I said something really stupid. I’m often quiet in certain crowds for fear of really saying something stupid.

    But more so lately I think…enough already!…I am reaching a certain milestone where I realize I am too old to worry about this stuff. Focus on the good stuff, like being grateful and building other people up and giving back in some way. Amazing how taking the focus away from myself helps me not worry about what others are saying or thinking.

    • Bonnie Johnson

      I think you hit the nail on the head, Joan, when you said “how taking the focus away from myself helps me not worry about what others are saying or thinking”. That is so true! And a great tool to help get over this silly worrying. I think I’ll go ahead and groan out loud at the gym…everyone is only concerned with their own workout anyway and not paying attention to me at all. I’ll let you know if they kick me out. 😉

  • Tracy Westerholm

    Wow I don’t even know where to begin!

    You are the most amazing woman I have ever met! I need to reread this and respond when I process it for a bit longer. I didn’t want you to think I had not read it yet as you know I peek at your posts the night before because I can’t wait sometimes to read your words!

    Back in a bit BEST FRIEND! xoxo

  • Tracy Westerholm

    First of all I LOVE the title of this post!

    I have known you for how many years and I didn’t know it was painfully important what people thought of you? I guess I never thought much about it because everyone always likes or loves you. You have this sense of calm about you that makes everyone in your presence feel warm and safe and important. YOU listen! That is a skill more of us could take time sharpening! I always feel safe when I am in your company, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually! …especially when there are spiders and varmints amongst us. You are the fearless one of us!

    You have strived to excel at everything you have taken on in your life, whether it be making a great dinner, designing a website, or building something with your “I am woman tools” and have done just that each time…excelled!

    I love when you write posts that come straight from your heart! They are so relatable to everyone!

    *cough* approaching 50? K that just sounded funny to me!

    I have always seen you as a very confident savvy, successful (not grown up) but evolving beautiful woman who is very sure of herself. Boy you sure had me fooled! Who are you and what have you done with my BEST friend Bonnie? Hehe

    I think we all have our own insecurities, god knows I have found lots of mine over the last year or so. This weekend in fact! (silent sigh) They can be paralyzing at times! I do think it’s natural to want others to like us, to fit in. I have not cared what people think of me for years but if it is someone I have feelings for or admire, Hell Ya it matters! On the surface I stopped caring probably in my late 20’s! I used to bend over backwards using humor to make other girls not judge me by my surface appearance and then one day it clicked and I didn’t care. If they didn’t want to take the time to find out who I was then I didn’t care anymore.

    I also think creatives worry more than others because what you are ‘putting out’ there is more personal and less structured! Your writing or painting or poem is from within and to be judged on that can hurt.

    You were always the quieter of the two of us when we went out and I always wished I could have kept my mouth shut a little more and been a little less ‘out’ there like you! Funny isn’t it! I wanted to be more like you and you wanted to be more like me. I am realllllllllllllly trying hard to keep my words to myself lately and I tell ya it’s hard! I say too much and jump with my entire being and then find myself sitting in a room reflecting on what I did. We all have things to work on in life and being aware is the first step!

    You really have to hop on board with me and embrace the freedom (at least temporarily) and not give a hoot about what anyone thinks of you! It is liberating! As for the no-bra thang…you used to do that when we were ‘down under’ in a mesh tank top, I admired and envied your confidence having such a nice rack! *wink* Which you still possess by the way! I’ve decided to be a switch hitter by the way! (kidding just wanted to see who was payin attention!)
    I love you just the way you are Bon Bon! Don’t ever change, evolve but don’t change who you are to the core! xoxoxoox
    I love you fiercely!
    me ((((((smile))))))

    • Bonnie Johnson

      What an amazing comment! I just came home after being out all day and then I get to read such a lovely message from my bestie.

      It is funny isn’t it how we always see the best in others and in ourselves…eh,not so much.

      I’ve developed a little trick to help me with my confidence which I’ll share with you now. If I have to enter a room (or any circumstance) and I feel really insecure I try to imagine how Tracy would do it first. Then I attempt to mimic how I think you would do it. I know I don’t really get close but it’s enough to help me take the first step. I “Tracyize” myself. It’s like a little “Tracy” push and it’s just enough to help me out. Don’t worry, I don’t stay you long (I don’t have the eyes or hair for it). That is just one of the many perks of having you as a dear friend for so long. I can learn some “Tracy” ways. It’s been very helpful. You’ve helped me to become a better me. What a gift! I could never get the “hold the eye contact” flirt thing you do though. When I try that I just come across like a desperate crazy person. Luckily I have no need for that trick but if I ever do I hope you will teach me the way of the Master Flirt. 😉

      Call and fill me in about last weekend! Plus we should probably talk about your being a switch hitter now.

      I love you fiercely too! xoxoxoxo

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