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.