Who Cares What They Think

Our ski season starts tomorrow.  It has been ridiculously cold here, and I’m not really in the mood to go on the first day.  I think I need more time for my body to get acclimated to the change in temperature.  At least that’s what I’m telling my lazy self.  I’m 47 years old and I still ski.  I’m not bragging.  I’m just surprised.

When I was in 6th grade, the gym teacher told me that I really needed to go out for basketball.  I was taller than most everybody else in the class.  It made sense that I should be on the basketball team.  However, I didn’t want to play basketball.  But, because I was an accommodator-in-training, I tried out for basketball.  I am a first born, and therefore, a relatively cautious individual.  Back then, I was a cautious, first born kid, who was overly preoccupied with what other people thought of me.  I was incredibly self-conscious.  I may have been decent at basketball, but I didn’t want to make a fool of myself, so I didn’t apply myself.  At the end of try-outs, the gym teacher politely told me that I might want to try out for track, instead.  I didn’t try out for track.  Since then, I’ve always said that I’m not athletic.  And yet, I still ski.

Labels are funny things.  Why do we let people put labels on us?  And why do we so willingly put labels on ourselves?  I have a step-brother who hasn’t worn a pair of shorts in 34 years.  Some kid once told him he looked like he was riding a chicken.  That’s all it took.  My step-brother hasn’t worn a pair of shorts since 3rd grade.  How come we don’t stand up for ourselves and believe in ourselves.  Why don’t we say, “Yea?  So what.  I like riding a chicken!  So there!”  I’m always telling my kids (and reminding myself) that people aren’t really looking at you or caring about what you do that much, anyway.  They are busy focusing on their own stuff.  They might comment on what you are doing, but they move on pretty quickly.

I have been making some tough decisions lately.  I think that decisions are more difficult when I keep factoring in the potential reactions that I’ll get from the people in my life.  There is this constant chatter in the background.  I can hear them saying, “You can’t do that.  That’s not the way it’s done.  Nobody else does it that way.  You should do it like we do.  You should be more like us.  It works for us.  It will work for you, too.”  I want them to like me.  But more and more, I’m realizing that it’s more important that I like me.

Each time I make a new difficult choice, I realize that I am being true to me.  As the dust settles on these new choices, I’m getting closer to my goals of Health, Harmony and Creativity.  It has taken a long time for me to realize that I am strong and smart.  I can have my own goals.  I can follow my own path.  I think sometimes it is a bit uncomfortable when people in my life see me making choices that are so different from their choices.  Maybe it makes them want to reevaluate their choices.  It’s more likely that they are thinking I’m losing my mind.  They think I’ve gone off the deep end.  I choose to think that I’m just swimming in a different pool.

I am seeing positive results from these decisions — happier, healthier kids; less stress in the home; and a happier, more relaxed mom.  We don’t need to vent about our bad day at school or work.   We are not racing from one obligation to the next.  We aren’t needing that zone-out time in front of the TV.  We aren’t feeling like we need to blow off stink after a crappy day.  The days are less volatile.  Why should we be racing around filled with stress because everyone else is racing around filled with stress?  That’s a boat I don’t mind missing.

How many of us think:

  • Well, this is easier.  It’s scary to try something new.  I could get hurt.  I could embarrass myself.
  • It’s too cold to go skiing.
  • I’d really like to take a pottery class, but I have to put dinner on the table by 5:30.
  • The neighbors have a perfect yard.  I better make sure my yard looks as nice.
  • I’m not a runner.  Who am I kidding?
  • I can’t leave my Narcissistic husband.  I can’t make it on my own.
  • It’s easier to do what everybody else expects me to do.

And at the end of the day, you have betrayed yourself.  You spent another day not putting yourself out there to discover what it is that you want to do.   Another day comes to a close and you still don’t know what you are passionate about.  But isn’t there a huge sense of relief that you haven’t rocked the boat?  You’ve done a fine job of doing just exactly what everyone expected you to do.  What a good girl you are.

Get cold.  Don’t make dinner for one night.  Put on your tennies and walk — and then run — around the block.  Take a pottery class.  Take up knitting.  Read a book.  Write a letter to yourself.   Be a painter or a writer or a juggler or a welder or a ….     You fill in the blank.  But get to filling it in.  Who cares what they think?  Quit labeling yourself.  Put yourself out there and see what you are capable of doing.

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