Not caring what other people think has been, hands down, the most difficult thing I’ve had to learn to do. It goes against all of my natural instincts, which is to do everything within my power to be liked and not let on what a nervous and anxious person I really am.
Meeting new people, for me, is terrifying. I resemble a rabbit in the headlights, about to be squashed by an oncoming lorry whilst I’m desperately trying not to stutter because my tongue and teeth refuse to cooperate and form a simple “Hello”.
My brain goes into overdrive, analysing every little detail about what I’m saying, how I’m saying it, and what the other person’s face is doing whilst I’m saying it. It is, quite frankly, exhausting.
We all have a need to be liked and feel included, because it’s human nature. Being part of the pack means you won’t be left to starve alone in the wild, so being socially accepted rather than cast away for being strange is the modern version of pack mentality. But it doesn’t always make us happy.
I woke up on my first day of university petrified at the thought that I would never make a single friend. I thought I’d be the oddball from Jersey, that has no friends and can’t say her last name without putting a hundred extra W’s in front of it. Opening with”My name is R-ria W-w-w-w-wolstenholme” isn’t the way I wanted to make a first impression.
My fear of rejection had evolved into something that truly took over my day to day routine. I’d apologise to people when there was nothing to be sorry for, just in case I’d upset them without knowing. I’d feel guilty for not accepting invitations to events, but would often cancel plans because I didn’t want to be in a situation where I felt overwhelmingly anxious and couldn’t leave. I was always worried I was invited to things because people felt sorry for me, so never knew if I was genuinely liked or just pitied. I was treating myself like a nuisance, and so in turn became one to myself.
My first year of university taught me a lot about myself, and my own mentality. I began to realise that if I didn’t give myself a break, and stop worrying so much about what other people thought, and how I was perceived, I’d never be happy. Caring that much about other people’s opinions and judgments was not worth the endless nights sat alone in my room, worrying about nothing.
Now, I’m happy being me. I don’t care what people think of me, because I’ve become more comfortable with who I am as a person. I no longer seek the approval of others, because I’ve learnt that I don’t have to justify myself or my actions to anybody. As long I’m happy with who I am and what I do, that’s all that matters.
In reality, nobody cares as much as you think they do. So there’s no point in you caring what they think.