Learning to Not Care What Others Think of Me
One thing that I have learned through my diagnosis is that I have had to get over what people think of me. I’m totally that weirdo bringing her own meals and snacks wherever she goes and then asking to use your oven or store my food in your fridge. Just a few weeks ago my family and I went to Disney and I’m the girl eating a salad she clearly brought from home. Oh man, was that a test for me. The initial panic came over me, worrying about people staring and laughing at me.
And then I told myself to shut up. HAHA! I told myself that I have Celiac. I HAVE to bring my food wherever I go. I cannot eat a single thing at Disney, except for maybe a banana. And besides, who cares what they think. This girl has to eat!
I have always cared what people thought of me. Most of the time, I worry too much about that. The worry causes anxiety and then I’m a mess.
Recently, I was having a discussion with my husband. He had been noticing that I was extra stressed lately. I truthfully did not know why. I didn’t feel like anything was stressing me. The only thing “extra” besides the day to day stuff, was that I knew I was consciously worrying about my recent health and the new symptoms I was developing with the unexplained 12 days of bloating.
He said, “no. There has to be something more. Has anyone done anything or said anything that has been bothering you?”
Then it hit me.
I have had a recent coming to terms with letting go of friends I was holding onto that, in recent months, have shown me they are disinterested. I have been subjected to what I call, a “mean girls” event.
Now hear me out, I’m not saying this like “oh boo-hoo Tracy lost some friends, get over it.” So just keep reading!
When the recent events happened, it subconsciously, triggered a childhood memory that apparently, I have been holding onto now for 20 years.
It was 6th grade and I was relatively happy for a brand-new teenager, navigating life with developing hormones that made everything confusing.
I had a group of friends that I had known since we were in 1st and 2nd grade.
As we entered middle school, some of the friends started becoming closer but we all remained a good group of girls. Until one day…
4th period was over, and it was my lunch break. I was starving and excited to have a break from the books and enjoy my time to spend with my closest friends, sharing stories, giggling about boys and sharing the snacks in our lunch bags.
I went to my locker to grab my lunch before heading to the cafeteria. When I opened my locker, out fell 3 separate, folded up letters on white lined paper.
I stood at my locker, burying my face inside as I read the first letter…“You are weird.” “We don’t like you anymore.” “We do not like you.” “You are no longer welcome in our group.”
All 3 hand-written letters, one from each of the 3 friends, all read very similar but all 3 girls ended their letter with 8 very hurtful words… ”You are no longer welcome in our group.”
My stomach sank. My palms were sweating (like they are currently as I type this). My mind was racing.
My irrational, emotional, anxiety-ridden, hormone-filled body and mind were racing with sad, terrifying thoughts. ‘My friends don’t like me.’ ‘I am alone.’ ‘I have no one.’ ‘I am weird.’ ‘Did I do something wrong?’ ‘My friends don’t like me.’ ‘No one likes me.’ ‘They must not like me because I’m ugly and fat. Why else would they not like me?’ ‘I…AM…ALL…ALONE.’
How could girls be so cruel? How could MY FRIENDS be so cruel? I did nothing wrong.
I felt so isolated. Alone. Scared. Confused.
Looking back, I believe that was the moment in time that has caused me to care way too much about what other people think of me. I am always so concerned with and worried about what people think of me. Do they like me? If I say this will they think I’m annoying or bothersome or dumb? Will they think I’m weird like those middle school mean girls? All irrational thoughts. I know that now, but for all my life I did not recognize those as irrational thoughts. That was all I knew. That was my world, my brain and I didn’t know any different.
Over the years I had SEVERAL other life changing, sad and lonely moments that exacerbated my anxiety and caring too much about what others thought of me (I’ll save those stories for another article 😊)
I most certainly am still a work in progress, always will be. The recent “mean girls” events that triggered this memory, showed me just that. That I am not “over my anxiety.” My anxiety may very well always be a part of me. But we all have to learn to let go of those moments in time that people wronged us. Those moments in time when all you see is negative because GIRL, there is SO MUCH positive from those negative blips in your timeline. You just have to open up your eyes to see it.
You see, those girls from middle school, they are living their lives just like I am mine. Whether they knew then or know now that they hurt me tremendously, is none of my business. It is my job to learn from those moments. It’s my job to recognize that maybe that was God’s way of pushing me down a path that He found to be more suitable for me.
After I read all 3 of those letters with my head buried in my locker, trying to hold back the tears because how embarrassing would it be if your crush saw you crying like a baby?! I raced to the bathroom to hide and I saw a “classroom friend” (someone whom we only talked to each other in the one class period we had together.) She saw me crying and immediately asked, in a very empathic, caring way, “are you okay? What’s wrong?”
I told her what happened, and you know what she said? “Screw those girls. They’re bitches! Come have lunch with me!”
That “classroom friend” has been one of my very best friends’ in life. After that horrible day for my 13-year-old self, we then spent nearly every day together between slumber parties, mall trips, going to the movies and in later years sneaking out to go to parties. We were by each other’s side through all the highs and all the lows. The fun and laughter and friendship were always there. I honestly do not know how I could have navigated those weird, awkward, teenage-puberty years without this sweet, loving best friend. Even though now we live over 1,200 miles apart, we are still best friends 20 years later and will be until we’re old and gray.
Not everyone goes through those negative moments with an immediate positive. Or maybe we do, and we just don’t recognize it at the time.
Look at what great positive came from such a mean, horrible negative. I do wish at the time that I had the knowledge and tools to know how to let go of the pain those mean girls caused me, but we can only develop those tools and knowledge over time after we go through life experiences that help get us there.
I hope now that since I have gone through a “mean girls” event for a second time in my life, that I can grow from this and let go much faster. There honestly is no benefit in worrying. Worrying only causes anxiety and what good does anxiety do for our bodies??? And besides, who cares what these girls think of me? Clearly, they are not friends that I need or want in my circle.
We can no longer live our lives upset at those that have wronged us. Why? Because we are human. We all have our own path. We all have had bad days. We all are who we are based on our childhood experiences and it is our job to not project the negative onto others. What others think of you is not important. What you think of yourself means everything. You can’t stop people from saying hurtful things or doing hurtful things or the pettiness. What you CAN do, is not allow it to hurt your heart and soul.
The one thing that I really want to stick with you as you sit there reading this is, what others do is not because of you. What they say and do is a projection of their own reality. When you let go and not allow the opinions of others affect you, you will no longer be the victim.
So, cheers to living our lives letting go of the constant care of what people think of us. Because at the end of the day, what you think of yourself is all that matters.
“Never allow anyone to take away your sparkle. Be kind and laugh and love often.”