Every now and then, it’s difficult to deny that we are concerned about what other people are thinking and saying about us. This thought process causes us to get more self-conscious about how we act or look. Whether it’s posting pictures of our half-naked selves after hitting the gym for a few weeks on Facebook, the way we dress, or however we want to present ourselves in public (both on and off the Internet), we love attention. We love attention so much that we give other people, sometimes complete strangers, the power to determine our self-worth based on how they accept and validate us or reject us.
Does something sound wrong with that? Yes. It’s very wrong.
Uunless it’s someone we absolutely hate or love, how often do you think about most of the people you encounter? If you think about others often, then shame on you: you should be focused on yourself rather than your image. Anyone who has enough time to be worrying about what others think about them needs to get a life, because the world doesn’t revolve around them.
The good news about this is that almost everyone is struggling with this as well; asking if someone hates them or thinks fondly of them. The better news is that precisely because of this, everyone is so caught up in their own minds that they are too busy to judge, reject, or validate you with the time and consideration you want.
On another level, the more you expect from people, the more disappointed you will be. When I had lost everything last year when my father passed, was completely broke and trying to make the most of what little I had, I didn’t really have friends to understand or support me for the most part. To elaborate, a so-called “friend” came to see me off the day before I left. He didn’t ask me how I felt, offer me any condolence for losing my father, or even consider that I had lost everything and everyone: he instead kept talking and pestering me to pay back $35 to two mutual friends we had and then called me a liar and thief for telling him I couldn’t afford to part with the money, however small it was and even though it was owed to them. Because people don’t care about others, he had to have it now, now, now, regardless of what I was going through. When I told him off, he severed all ties from me and in his own funny way of “punishing” me for “being mean to him”, he refuses to return all of my things I lent to him while we were still friends. As it stands, he and the two mutual friends have their own lives and I have mine, but ultimately I’m at least able to maintain my own honor for taking the higher ground and paying them back (albeit after being harangued and pestered) while they still have my things.
Before any misunderstandings arise, I’m not telling everyone to go out and be selfish and disregard others, let alone be rude to them. That’s encouraging you to really disregard others and seek personal gain at their expense. All I’m saying is people do it without thinking, but if you dislike it, you don’t have to do it. Other people deserve the basic respect you would give and want from a stranger who has done no harm and doesn’t owe you any favor.
You can be nice, you can be fair, but don’t expect other people to treat you the same way. When you are focused on how to get ahead and be successful without needing other people’s help that’s a mark of independence. When you know how to have fun without needing other people to be around, then that is true fun and a hobby that allows you to grow and not be disappointed because nobody is there to join you (much like how most of my friends don’t join me when I do parkour or bike along the beach).
When you know how to love and respect yourself without needing other people, you’re on the road to happiness: instead of laying down in my bed all night wondering if I’ll get the girl to be by my side, I close my eyes and imagine my reflection stepping out and embracing me. That way, I don’t project unfair expectations onto someone else and it is a mental and emotional exercise in loving and respecting myself more, instead of throwing a lot of love and expectations onto a lover or friends, then wondering why I don’t get the same effort from them that I put in.
A good example of expectations that are too high: telling someone you love her wholeheartedly, hearing her respond without looking up from her magazine that she’s reading and nonchalantly say “That’s nice”, then getting upset about it. That is one of the most shining examples of how nobody gives a crap about you. That’s why you have to give a crap about yourself but still be respectful toward others instead of getting mad for their lack of sensitivity. So a good example of doing something for yourself is reading a book and knowing that you may not be able to share your love for it with anyone else because it is so obscure and niche that most people wouldn’t know what you were talking about unless they both read and enjoyed it, which in my case is reading books on esoteric mysticism. If you talk about this book to other people who don’t share that enthusiasm, don’t be surprised if they fall asleep or flat out don’t listen–because yes, they don’t care.
So be nice to yourself, but don’t forget to be respectful toward others, even if they don’t reciprocate that. After all, there’s no reason to be a jerk toward others just because they don’t care, otherwise you’re inviting negativity.