From a pretty young age I thought I was a person who didn’t care that much what other people thought of me. Even in the throes of my eating disorder, I thought I was a pretty strong and independent woman who did what she wanted and didn’t need anyone else’s approval. Boy oh boy, turns out that’s all I was looking for. I blame it on my mommy issues. I grew up without a dad from ages 8-18, but trust me, that left me with far more mommy issues than daddy issues. I slowly started to come out of that and find true self-love and confidence, but even once I thought I was pretty good at that and needed others’ approval much less, I still didn’t do what I wanted. I had no idea who I was. Part of that was just age, and part of it was insecurity. All my music, movies, food, dress, and speech were so influenced by those around me, and I often led double, triple, or quadruple lives because I was unable to be honest with everyone in my life about who I was and what I wanted. I don’t think I thought even once about what it was I truly wanted. In the last year couple years, I made the decision to leave my marriage and enter a new open relationship with my current partner. There is nothing like that journey to show you what it really means to not care what people think. I feel like becoming handicapped would also do the trick, or, if you really want to learn to not let others’ opinions affect you, try becoming gay or black. I’m glad I chose the route I did.
I learned that not caring what people think is not a state of mind. It’s a state of action. If you really don’t care what other people think, you will do exactly what you want when you want. Do you have any idea how few people do this? Do you have any idea how life-changing it is? This is one area where my partner is light years ahead of me. The other night, we parked in the grocery store parking lot around 9:30 p.m. and started heading toward one of the entrances. “Oh, I bet this one is closed” I said, knowing that stores often only use one main entrance late at night. “Come on” he said, motioning me to keep walking toward the door. As we approached, we saw a sign that said that entrance was closed and could not be used after 8 p.m. “See? We can’t go in this way” I said, as we were still several feet away. “Come on” he said again patiently as he proceeded toward the door. To my surprise, the door opened, and in we went. This might sound like the tiniest thing in the entire world, but it’s not. It’s huge. He walks through life with the attitude that he doesn’t do what he’s told simply because he’s told to. When he sees a closed door that says DON’T ENTER, he walks towards it anyway. If it doesn’t open when he gets there, he’ll find an alternate route, but make no mistake – he expects it to open. Do I believe that things in physical reality actually change because of our thoughts and beliefs? I’m not sure. I haven’t quite come to terms with the idea that expecting the door to be open might make the door actually be open. The rational inside of me screams that this cannot be the case, but the truth is that we’ll never know. In any case, I’m not sure it much matters, because the point is to walk through life healthily entitled and fearless, expecting the best to come your way. That is the kind of person I want to be.
Do you have any idea how often you have an opportunity to exercise this kind of power? I saw a girl get on the train yesterday just head of me. She was carrying several large bags, and it was clear by the way she was looking around that she wanted to sit down. There was a woman sitting on the bench clearly taking up what could have easily been two seats, but the girl with the bags just looked longingly and settled for a spot against the wall. I walked right over and, with just my body language, made it clear I was going to sit down. The woman taking up two seats slid right on over and out of my way. I sat down comfortably and turned on my audiobook while watching the girl with the bags still waiting for a seat. At the next stop, she took a seat from where someone else got up. Why didn’t she sit down at first? No matter how you spin it, it comes down to this: she wanted to sit, but she didn’t sit because she was worried what other people would think about her. She either didn’t want to ask the woman to move because she was worried about the conflict or she just has general social anxiety about talking to strangers. Maybe she just felt awkward or like she didn’t want to impose on others. Again, this might seem like a small thing, but it’s not! Walk through life with the attitude that you deserve the best. In every situation, stop and ask yourself what you want and then do that thing. I wanted to sit, so I did. No woman taking up more than her fair share of the bench was going to stop me, but honestly, I didn’t even think about her. I just did as I pleased.
This attitude is the same reason that I come into work at 11 a.m. when there’s no reason for me to be here earlier, while the rest of my coworkers get here at 9:30 to sit at their desks and do nothing. It’s the same reason I am in an open relationship despite my friends thinking I’m going through an experimental phase or that it’s bound to fail. It’s the same reason that, since high school, all my closest friends have been guys, despite people thinking that my ex-husband was pussy-whipped because of it, and it’s the very same reason I have fully embraced every inch of my body and don’t hesitate to show it off whenever I can even though I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I just don’t care. It’s my cup of tea, and I’m over here happily sipping away.