I May Look Confident, But I’m Constantly Worried About What Other People Think Of Me

I’m a pretty memorable person. I dress funky, speak my truth, and am tattooed head to toe. Although I have an exterior that reeks of confidence, there are still parts of me that are terrified of what other people think of me.

It’s a natural human desire to want to be liked. 

I want to start by normalizing the fact that I care what other people think. It doesn’t make me self-centered, abnormal, or lame. On the contrary, it’s quite normal to want to be liked by fellow humans. It’s a natural desire. However, it can become problematic when the desire to be liked gets in the way of me living my life.

I’ve gotten better, but I still care too much about other people’s opinions. 

It used to be that I always cared about what people thought. I’d be at a table ordering food with people and I’d change my order if everyone was getting a salad but I wanted pizza. Now at least I’ve loosened up and learned to lean into who I am. I’m not perfect, though, I still have some blind spots.

I hide when I’m crying. 

Crying spells seem to hit me at the worst times! Why is it that I find myself tearing up in the grocery store so much? My favorite recent episode though was when I was crying while picking up my antidepressants at the pharmacy. It was a classic. You better believe that I tried to put on a smile anyway and pretend everything was fine. I didn’t want to have to talk to a stranger about my vulnerability because I really cared what was going through her head.

I sometimes want to impress guys I don’t even like. 

Ugh, this is the worst feeling and happens every so often. There will be a guy who’s a total jerk and it definitely would be no compliment if he thought highly of me. Nonetheless, I find myself yearning for his validation. It’s probably some weird remnant of my past still creeping back up, but I feel a bit ashamed, as if I “should” feel differently.

I’m still prone to “shoulding” all over myself. 

Speaking of those “shoulda, coulda, wouldas,” I often think I should feel differently than how I feel. I think that I should care less or I shouldn’t have said or done something. In reality, no one is judging me as harshly as I’m judging myself. I’m totally my own worst critic!

I do worry that my tattoos, piercings

, and crazy hair will get in the way of a job.
I’m the first one to act like a tough guy and say that I don’t care at all what someone thinks of my plethora of tattoos, piercings, and wildly colored hair. But, if I dig deep into how I really feel, the truth of the matter is that I’m terrified of being rejected for these things. Despite the fact that they’re my taste, I know my eclectic choices deviate from the norm. Still, even with the fact that I have some fear lying around, I also have a stronger side of me that believes I don’t want to work for a company that would reject me on the basis of tattoos, a septum piercing, or pastel hair.

One of my biggest fears is “looking stupid.” 

Oh man, this is a classic fear. It holds people back more than ever, but I just can’t shake it. Perhaps it has an evolutionary grounds. Like I’m scared to be thrown out of the pack for doing something weird or abnormal. A perfect example is that I’m dying to learn how to play soccer, but I’ve yet to be able to bring myself to bite the bullet of being new at something. In my head, I’d rather just skip over the whole being new and just be an expert. That’s not how life works, though!

I overthink a lot when it comes to romantic relationships. 

My mind is my worst enemy when it comes to romance and dating. It will spew all sorts of distortions like, “He obviously hasn’t answered you because he’s not interested” or, “You’re not good enough for her.” Fortunately, I’ve done a ton of work on turning around these negative thoughts and instead finding different truths like, “Maybe he’s busy, we’ll see” or, “Actually, you are good enough for her.”

It hurts a lot when my family doesn’t understand what I’m going through. 

I “should” know at this point that my family is totally unreliable and unstable. I mean, we’ve been trying to accomplish things together for over two decades to no avail. Still, I’m only human. A big part of me desires to be understood and validated by them. The unfortunate truth of the matter is that they just aren’t capable of meeting those needs. I was reminded of this recently after a mental health hospitalization when their reactions were all over the map. They were mostly inappropriate, judgmental, and not supportive. Despite knowing this was likely going to be their response, I had still hoped for something different.

In some ways, I still feel like a little girl. 

My family is a perfect example of me feeling like a little girl. I want things to be different, so I keep waiting for them to change, then am disappointed when they don’t. I also feel like a small child when it comes to things like wanting to try soccer but instead choosing to avoid it. Much like I’d treat a scared little girl, though, I really try to treat myself with so much gentleness. I can look at how far I’ve come instead of how far I have to go.

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