My name is Mandi Garrison and I care about what people think of me. While it’s true that I’m quirky, I tend to rebel against what people want or expect, and I make my own decisions on my own timelines — all of that comes from a subconscious desire to successfully integrate with other humans. If I tried to mold myself in a different way to “fit in,” I would fail terribly and become a social outcast. It’s just not in my DNA.
And even though I may preach against domestication and societal norms, in reality, I care very deeply whether people value my contributions and understand my perspective. In fact, often the people who shout from the rooftops, “I DON’T CARE WHAT ANYONE THINKS,” actually are the ones who care very deeply, perhaps more than most. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. We are biologically created to connect, coexist, and help one another. Caring deeply about what other people think is an empathic trait that helps us find meaningful connection and evolve. Sensitivity is a beautiful gift.
The issue comes when we try to shut that part of us down. Rather than admit, “this is me, and I care about how you see me,” sensitive, empathic people may wind up in one or more of the following scenarios:
- Insist that we don’t care and become aggressive, impatient, or defensive when challenged.
- Create stories or misleading scenarios to develop the image we want others to see. In the world of social media, we can become so attached to our public image that we start to act like everyone is watching.
- Make decisions based on others’ expectations, and forget what we really want. This ultimately leads to unhappiness or a crisis in purpose.
(I have been guilty of this and often catch myself. Do I want this thing, or do I want the recognition of this thing? Did I make the choice that I wanted, or was it the choice that was expected?)
- Are unable to change to please others, and so for fear of being embarrassed, shut down or become secluded.
(I have been guilty of this many times.)
- Create stories or projections about other people based on assumptions or imagined hurts and endanger meaningful relationships.
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz touches on this in a powerful way. "The impact of other people’s opinions and reactions to us became a very strong force in the habits we created. In this process we created agreements in our mind of who we should be, what we shouldn’t be, who we were, and who we were not. Over time we learned to live our life based on the agreements in our own mind. We learned to live according to the agreements that came from the opinion of others. In this process of domestication it turns out that the choices we make and the life we live is more driven by the opinions we learned from others than one we would choose on our own."
All of these scenarios have one thing in common: it can make us drift away from self-love.
Love who you are. We are all intelligently designed, beautiful and amazing individuals with our own unique blueprint. How cool is that? Every one of us is different and unique. I find that so amazing. Yes, it’s important and normal to relate to the experiences of others, but we are different. And that is cool.
So what makes you different? Forget for a moment about what you want other people to know or read or see. What makes you YOU?
Have you ever just spent time with yourself? One of the most beautiful practices is spending time just hanging out with yourself. Do the things you want to do. Try not to “check out” with the television or cellphone, just simply sit with your own thoughts and emotions. Remember who you are, your best moments, the things you like to do, a conversation with someone that touched you, something that made you laugh, a moment when you felt like someone understood you. These things help bring you back to yourself.
There are some clues to help you if you get stuck. For example, have you ever fallen in love? I truly believe when we drift away from ourselves, we suddenly fall in love with someone or something that offers us a clue as to what we truly desire. It is one of the Universe’s mysterious ways of getting us back on track. Have you ever experienced incredible anxiety or unhappiness for no apparent reason? That can offer us clues as to what we don’t want. In the book, Finding Your Own North Star, Martha Beck writes about how people tend to get sick often when they are trapped in a job, situation, etc., that is out of alignment with who they are and what they want.
I also believe that as a species, we are becoming more open and aware to what we are, where we come from, and how we are unique. It’s okay to be different. Be okay with being different. Love being different. Love YOU.
My name is Mandi Garrison, and I care about what people think of me, but I will never change who I am. I'm okay with being different.
What about you?