During my elementary school I was “blessed” with the opportunity to be a part of Girls Scouts. I put “blessed” in quotes, because it was one of my least favorite things to do. I remember begging my mom each year to not make me sign up again. Looking back now, I’m not sure exactly what it was that I disliked so much, but I remember dreading it every.single.week.
A few years ago my mom ran into my former troop leader at church and she asked how I was doing. My mom gave her the typical elevator speech and then my leader shared the one memory that she had of me (again, I don’t remember this). But, apparently, we were planning a camping trip and I went up to my troop leader and said, “I’m less of a camper and more of a Holiday Inn kind of girl.”
Seriously, who says something that? You know who says something like that? A person who doesn’t care what anyone thinks of them. Now, I would be mortified to say something that sounded so “snotty or uppity” to someone. I would be so worried about what they would think of me or what they would say to other people. I must have been around 11 or 12 years old when I said that to my troop leader. I wonder when all that changed? I wonder when I really started caring about what everyone thought of me?
I don’t think I’m alone in this struggle, but I think some personalities lean into approval and acceptance more than others. I am one of those personalities. I want everyone to like me. If I find myself at odds with someone (even if I truly believe I’m right), I’ll bend over backwards and always try to make peace. Even writing that makes me angry at myself. Why do I always give in? Why am I always the one striving for harmony?
I know that after becoming a mom, other people's opinions became way too important to me. I wanted to fit a certain mold (check out a recent blog post about this). I over compensated and changed who I was, because I was afraid to be judged by those who chose a different path. I was ashamed for walking my path, which is being a working mom. I instilled an inferiority complex in myself out of fear. Fear. It’s such a strong emotion and it drives so much of what we do. But, what was there really to be afraid of?
I played a comparison game and I ultimately lost. I lost myself. When we’re so worried about what other people think, we begin to take on these other “personas” to ultimately fulfill what we imagine they want us to be. You know what’s wrong with all of this? Our Lord made us exactly the way He wants us to be. Flaws and all. When we start diverting from the path that He set out for us, it’s impossible to truly live into our destiny. It’s impossible to truly serve not only ourselves, but all of those around us.
I love this quote from Rachel Hollis, “Other people’s opinions of you are none of your business,” Well, Rachel said it, but she said it ultimately it came from her therapist. Anyways, the journalist in me wanted to make sure that I had my facts right. Think about that, other people’s opinions of you are none of your business. It’s so simple, yet so powerful.
I began to wonder, if I didn’t care what other people thought, what would I be doing differently? The answer. A lot. I have made some progress, but I still have a lot of work to do in this space. I think recognizing that it’s an issue is the first step. I’m not ready to share everything I would do differently, but I can tell you that my day-to-day would look a lot different, the way I spent special days would look a lot different, and I honestly think my heart would be a lot lighter.
Spending time worrying about what other people think is not robbing them of anything. It’s robbing us. Ultimately, it’s us being so self-centered that we believe that people are actually spending their precious time caring what we’re doing. If they are truly "judging" us, then we need to recognize that this is something we can’t control and should ultimately release.
Just a few weeks ago, a co-worker said something so hurtful to me in a meeting. It hit my heart and I spent the next hour crying on and off. I then proceeded to try and make peace by reaching out and asking her for further explanation. I exasperated the situation and for what? Her approval? She didn't even respond for almost a week and the response truly did nothing for me. I should have let it go right in the moment, because what she thinks of me doesn't matter, but for some reason to me it did.
In just a couple of weeks I’ll be turning 35. Wow, 35. The years are going by fast and the last thing I or any of us should be doing is living for other people’s expectations. I need to live for my own expectations and ultimately for our Lord’s, so I can glorify Him.
As I walk into my 35th year, I’m going to walk in with intention. Intention that I’m walking my true path. Making choices and decisions based on my own thoughts and expectations. Will you join me? Will you walk into a life that is ultimately lighter? A life that where we’re not carrying unnecessary baggage? A life that we can live on purpose and fulfill with joy?
Blessings to all of you, my friends.
Three items I'm grateful for:
- My marriage - we're celebrating nine years today,
- My health.
- Matt's health.