What Will People Think?!

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?

39 replies

  1. Actually – if I might add – you can never really influence what other people think. Because it’s what they want to think. If you stay away from that Rasta Aunty down the road might think that you should have ran away with him because it’s what she would have loved to do years ago… What we all need to learn is that you will never be able to please others, you will never be able to live according to the ideas of everyone else. You need to be true to yourself. Maybe it will make you hit the floor hard on occasions but those are the lessons you learn. And it’s your life after all. Great post!

  2. Great post! I struggle with this question, “What will people thing?” but it’s true, we have to live our lives the way we know we should 🙂

  3. Truth!!
    I remember when my elder cousin told the family that she was in love with a Christian boy (we’re Hindus), it had become a HUGE issue in the family.
    The first question was “what will people think!” 😑

    • Not surprising! Training our brains to put our own desires before that of the nameless, faceless entity known as ‘the people’ will take a lot of time and practice, but it’ll definitely pay off in the long-run; the first step is having an open mind.

  4. Its the struggle of every first generation immigrant, to be a child of two worlds. You have punjabi culture which come from small villages everyone know each other, and a culture by consequence puts the group above the individual, and a western culture developed from cities where everyone doesn’t know each other that allows for individuality and prizes it. I mean its a tough balancing act. But personally I think the people of the older generations are full shit. They think culture is tied to speaking a language, dressing a certain way and other frivolous shit. Its not, its tied to values and principles. If am

    • Exactly, our parents and grandparents who came to the western world had to protect their traditions while also trying to fit in with the western way of life. And that’s where both clash. South Asian traditions does not go hand in hand with the western culture. Complete opposite of each other. I just think they’re so scared to lose these traditions, they’re so scared of their children forgetting their roots so thats why they imbed these traditions into us since the day give birth to us. They remind us of how important our south Asian culture is and how important it is that we uphold it. I think it is important, but it is also important to remind them that we are also from the western world and we need to uphold the western culture too.

      • Its human nature, people cling to their beliefs as a child would their parents, when confronted by something that equally terrifies and confuses them. The fact is when the winds of change and progress blow there are two kinds of people in this world, the kind that build walls to block them and resist it, and there are those that build windmills that embrace and harness it is benefits.Their attitudes will rather have us looking at our history, rather than us making our own. The fact is look at Canada South Asians compromise
        nearly a third of parliament, no group has accomplished so much in the space of a mere hundred years. The fact people adapted and prospered to the point of taking leadership in running a country does more for encourage pride and preservation of a culture especially among young people and other groups of people and make much better role models than those people that chose to stay steeped in the same mentality they’ve had for the past few centuries and cannot operate effectively in today’s world, those people only push away kids from their cultures.

        • Yes of course, people cling onto those beliefs because these are the only things that links them back to their country of origin. Living in a western country is scary for people who have come from places where strict traditions play such a huge part, where women are usually told to take a step back, where men are usually more dominant. So coming to a country where equality plays a massive part in society is scary and is confusing. This is not what they are used to. But yes I do understand what you mean, their attitudes mean we are stuck in the same cycle day in day out. We are not making a change in the society we live in, we are not moving forward because of the fear that we will become too “westernised” and hence we are not making a positive history, a positive change which just deters us from our culture. We just end up resenting it because it doesn’t allow us to progress or flourish. however, like you said there are people who are adapting and changing. Exactly, same in the UK. We have such successful South Asian people who play such vital roles in the running of the country, and as a young Asian person myself I am so proud to be Asian and I am so proud of my heritage. I guess It’s good to keep in mind that there will always be people who are stuck in their ways, who refuse to adapt even though they willingly chose to go to a western country and live there. Sometimes it’s good to just ignore these people (some people will never change) and focus on the people who have adapted and who are Changing with the times. They’re proof that we can flourish and be successful even in a world where we are battling with so many identities, with so many rights and wrongs but it just shows in the end it is possible to be a successful British/Canadian person while also being proud of our south asian culture 😊

  5. Exactly, our parents and grandparents who came to the western world had to protect their traditions while also trying to fit in with the western way of life. And that’s where both clash. South Asian traditions does not go hand in hand with the western culture. Complete opposite of each other. I just think they’re so scared to lose these traditions, they’re so scared of their children forgetting their roots so thats why they imbed these traditions into us since the day give birth to us. They remind us of how important our south Asian culture is and how important it is that we uphold it. I think it is important, but it is also important to remind them that we are also from the western world and we need to uphold the western culture too.

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