Growing up I was always concerned about what people thought of me. Maybe it was the era I grew up in which was the 1950-1970’s. Maybe it was having ethnic parents, whose parents themselves immigrated to the US and came out of the depression bringing their fears upon me. And as I became older, I would allow not just them, but others to influence my decisions, not really listening to my inner voice, till later in life.
This kept me from experiencing true growth as a child and young adult. Being afraid to make mistakes, because of what others would think of my character or my intelligence, kept me from experiencing life to the fullest. It kept me from taking risks when I should have, which would have afforded me more opportunities in my life, whether it was my career, big decisions that would affect me monetarily, or spiritually. I was concerned about disappointing people.
When you live your life for others, you live your life within walls. Fear makes you a prisoner. Doubt will create those walls. As you get older, past 50 especially, you realize that life was about taking risks in order for us to learn our true purpose here. Risks teach you lessons, whether it was a bad risk or good risk. Past 50, you start saying “Screw what people think. It’s my life, not theirs.”
I realize now, when it came to my parents, the way they became who they were, was because of the difficulties they had to endure. However, it taught them great lessons of value, appreciation for what they were able to attain, and having a strong work ethic. Parents just want you not to go through those pains. But ironically, the only way we really understand lessons of life is to experience it, even with pain. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s all how we learn from them.
Now when it comes to what other people think, I realize that no one needs to judge me for who I am. I am the best judge of my own character. In retrospect I have found that, more times than not, people are envious of what you are doing or accomplishing. Most people seem to care more about each other’s differences, rather than how we all are similar. They actually love to see you fail. It’s like the old saying, “misery loves company”. I realized that I was caring more about what these type of people, who never really did much with their own lives, were thinking. People who are truly successful in their lives, and I don’t mean monetarily, don’t care about what people think. They know you have to take risks in life to make something of your life. For me, I’m grateful for the mistakes I made because without them, I wouldn’t be the person I’m happy with today.
With all this said, it is balance in my life that has given me the peace and success. I created balance when I decided not to allow people to influence my decisions or how I felt about my character. I created lower self esteem when I was younger, but today it is different. Maybe we think before age 50 that it is a period of immortality, thinking there will always be tomorrow. As we approach 50, you realize how wrong that thinking was and that your time is now on a clock. The cost of that is years wasted worrying what others think. My biggest secret is “I don’t let people rent space in my head”. Knowing the secret…priceless!