When you have a large extended family or live in a close-knit community that holds strong traditions and values often any major/minor decisions that you make bring with them the stinking undertone of what will people think?
For example: quitting your job with no backup plan, leaving your degree halfway through to go travelling, marrying a middle-aged Rasta because you fell in love on a Jamaican beach, or shaving your head because the upkeep of having hair just got too much to handle, will more often than not be met with an unenthusiastic response. Because what will Auntie down the road think if you deviate from the path of supposed perfection and opt to please yourself instead of her? Priorities people, Auntie must come first, step away from the Rasta and razor!
In this day and age image is everything. Growing up in a small town in a South-Asian household, I’ve heard so many variations of ‘what will people think’ over the years. How will that look? What will people say? Do you want people to think X,Y,Z about you/more importantly us?!
All in all, this need to attain approval from anyone and everyone is a type of social anxiety that the older generations seem to struggle with the most. We millennials, on the other hand, aren’t generally as susceptible. The truth is that for the most part we’re a bunch of self-obsessed brats, out for number one, but for once that may actually work to our advantage! Because while we may not know much, we certainly know how to put ourselves first.
That being said, I can understand where our crowd-pleasing parents and grandparents are coming from when they constantly fret about what people will think. Essentially they’re just trying to protect us from becoming the targets of idle gossip and judgement. However, what they often fail to see is that their well-intentioned mollycoddling can actually hold us back from being authentic and true to ourselves and that’s no way to live.
Random people should not be given the power to dictate how we live our lives, that right is precious and it shouldn’t just be handed out willy-nilly. Life is short and we only get one shot at it, so why can’t we all train our brains to make the most of it while we can and do what makes us happy while we still have the time?
Anybody who truly matters will not judge anything that we do any way, they’ll empathize, understand and support us no matter what the big hoo-ha is. Plus maybe, just maybe, the people who we believe to be constantly eye-balling us aren’t even concerned with our activities at all; maybe we’re not always the talk of the town because we’re not actually that special! Perhaps instead we need to focus on deflating our egos slightly, come on say it with me: THE WORLD DOES NOT REVOLVE AROUND ME. Or if that’s too radical a thought to comprehend, let this be your new life mantra: WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK ABOUT ME IS NONE OF MY BUSINESS.
People will always have an opinion, there’s nothing you can do about that. So just drown all that nonsense out like white noise and do you, no explanations, no excuses…capisce?