I want to talk about what people think of me.
Let’s be honest we all like to think that we don’t care about what others think of us, some of us even believe it when we say it, but we all have someone whose opinion matters to us.
For many years I suffered greatly by obsessing over what people thought of me. I always tried to be the good person who was not controversial and was a good friend no matter what that person did I stood by them (to a point obviously, I mean I completely dropped a friend who slept with my boyfriend – years later I found out this never happened though, she was just jealous of our relationship). Now I am older and (hopefully) wiser I realise that being this way meant that I was in some toxic relationships, with men for sure and even with friends. I was friends with someone for over a decade and the first time I did something she didn’t like (which by the way was spending too much time with my new boyfriend and asking her if she was sure about the guy she was about to marry after I caught her crying every night for a week) she completely removed herself from my life overnight and kicked me out of her house (she had asked me to move in to help her pay the mortgage) and lied to all of our friends saying that I had walked out and left her with no money. WTF? I learned a lot from that experience and I am pleased to say that I have not had a toxic friendship since.
After the incident above I did a lot of soul searching because I didn’t really understand what had happened and then it occurred to me that no matter how much she upset me and hurt me and did things that were horrible I never spoke up about it. I kept my hurt feelings to myself and felt that I must have deserved it. When I fell into serious depression following the sudden death of my grandfather and leaving an emotionally abusive relationship she withdrew from me and would stop inviting me out places. When I organised a NYE party she organised something else and convinced everyone to go (I even found out much later she told some of them that I had cancelled the party and was going to be there), but I told myself that she was right and I wasn’t good company and it wasn’t her job to babysit me while I felt sorry for myself. Dammit that is the DEFINITION of a best friend; they should be there for the smiles and the shit! I was reasonably good friends with her boyfriend and after they broke up he and I became very close friends (and still are to this day actually). Even though he lived far away he would visit me most weekends and spend time with me, we went out a lot and he helped me get out from under my depression cloud. He is a very good person and one of my best friends.
Through this friendship (which was never anything more than that even though she wanted to pretend it was, I have a lot of love for him, but there were never “romantic” feelings attached) I learnt a lot about myself. I learnt that I was a pleaser; I would do my upmost to ensure someone was happy even to the detriment of myself. This had a great impact on my depression because obviously if I was spending all my time pleasing others there was very little time left to make me happy. His friendship has taught me that the perfect friend isn’t one who pleases you all the time, it is one who is brutally honest with you, it is someone who will be there through the shit and the smiles and it is someone who is proud to be your friend.
I am a very different person to who I was back then, generally speaking I am a happy, positive person. I am still a bit of a people pleaser (mostly at work, but I think that is expected haha), but I do a lot more for my own joy now than I used to. The old me pushed herself and became bulimic trying to fit in and fight my way to the top and get more pay, the new me realised that whilst I adore music and writing, I am not the kind of person that would survive well in that kind of industry. I also realised that I am passionate about literacy, research and books and I decided that I wanted to spend my life doing those things and am now a Librarian.
I have spent a lot of time over the past few years telling myself that others opinions do not matter and for the most part they don’t. This does not mean I do not have a moral compass, it just means that if I want to do something like jump on the back of my Hubby’s Harley, I do it because I want to and enjoy myself and do my best not to worry that someone might think there should be a wide load sticker across my ass. I have also found the true audience whose opinions matter and I would do pretty much anything to keep looking fabulous in their eyes… my nieces and nephews.
If someone in the street calls me a fat ass I might get very down and possibly resolve not to eat anything but carrots for a week, then I get home to find my nieces are visiting. They run full pelt at me screaming my name knowing I will catch them and hug them and kiss them. Then they invite me to a tea party with cupcakes they made with Nan that day (and invisible tea) and I forget about the ignoramus on the street and I forget about the carrot promise because none of that matters. All that matters is eating a cupcake with two beautiful little girls who are looking at me like I am a living Goddess or an Amazonian heroine and certainly the best thing since sliced bread. So I take my cake and eat it too 🙂