Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Now I find it hard to live my own life, pleasing everyone

Something funny happened last night. I say "funny" because it wasn't really a bad thing or a good thing, it was just sort of...thought-provoking. And it made me feel a tad ashamed of myself.

The guy I've been dating was over, and I was trying to decide what to wear to this semi-formal party we're going to Saturday night (with his help). I bought two dressy tops last weekend and was excited about him seeing them, as I thought they were both really cute and looked good on me. However, when I actually tried each of them on (with a black skirt), he was "lukewarm". In fact, he was lukewarm about all of the ensembles I tried on.

I know you're probably thinking, well who cares or what's the big issue with that? But the thing is, not getting his approval on my outfits made me feel very self-conscious and made me look at me IN the outfits in a completely different way. I felt like a contestant on ANTM standing there having Andre tell me I have a strange-looking body or something.

Now before I go any futher, I wish to reiterate that my boyfriend isn't a jerk - he calls me beautiful and compliments me all the time and he's commented on how nice my clothes are before. As he said himself he's just picky about clothes and also he was in a bit of a "mood" because he was tired and had a hard day at work. Besides, he didn't all out INSULT the outfits or the way I looked in them, he just didn't get excited by them, know what I mean?

So why did I take his response so personally if I know it wasn't personal?

I realize it's completely human to care about what others think of you, but I have always been one of those people who care about that more than I should. I have always (and still do) let the opinions of others influence what I do, say and how I dress. Every time I put on an outfit, I worry that I'm going to stand out too much or look "wierd" to the general public. No matter how sure I am of a decision in the moment, I immediately become un-sure when faced with any kind of scrutiny.

I hate that I do this. I hate that I care so much about the opinions of others. I don't want to be that girl. I want to be that girl who is confident in her choices and in who she is and how she looks. I hate that I second-guess myself all the time, that I wonder, 'is there something I'm not seeing?', 'maybe I should have said this, or worn that or...' blah blah blah...

The truth is, it's all about me, not them. If I second-guess one of my decisions after hearing another's opinion, it doesn't show that the other person is mean or that they even see me negatively in any way! What it shows is that I am not sure of the validity and authority of my own decisions, thoughts or abilities. That, deep down, my decisions, abilities and thoughts somehow don't carry any weight (or at least not as much weight as those of others).

I stewed for a bit about my boyfriend's reaction, until the above occured to me - that what happened had nothing to do with what he said or did, but about my feelings re. myself. I obviously have deep down insecurities about how I look and it profoundly affects many areas of my life. Something as small and insignificant as picking out an outfit for a party can cause me the same amount of anxiety and indecisiveness normally reserved for major life decisions.

It's simply ridiculous and I feel ridiculous admitting it but it's the truth. It's one of those things that I don't realize is there, as it's very easy to push down and ignore, but comes out when I least expect it (like the instance I mentioned above). It pops up and says, "Hi, remember me?! Yup, I'm still here...you really should do something about me ya know, but until ya do I'll just go back to my cave in your brain and hibernate".

I realize most of you are thinking that this is totally normal that I'm just whining. Of course there is nothing inherently WRONG with wanting your significant other to comment favourably about you. But when it comes right down to it every single person in the world could validate you - tell you you look beautiful and you are attractive - and it won't make one bit of difference if you don't believe already in your own head. Well, it might make a difference for five minutes, but then you are right back at square one.

I really wish I could just snap my fingers and not care what people think, but I can't. I also can't expect to become one of those people unless I give myself more credit - listen and believe in myself; believe that my opinions matter and that my gut usually has the right answer if I only listen to it (and not let others drown it out). It's just something I need to work on.

And I can start by wearing whatever I damn well want to this party on Saturday and be done with it.

What are you self-conscious about? Are you a people-pleaser?
How do you work on tuning out the opinions of others?


Kim said...

Right on, Kim, glad to hear you're gonna do you (as someone far more street-wise than I am would say). I know exactly what you mean by worrying how other people will feel about your choices in clothes and in life. I'm the same way. It took me months to work up to wearing red lipstick or a newsboy cap because I worried about what people will think. And ultimately, I like to switch things up frequently and I'm always sick of the comments I get about whatever choice I made that day. Usually they're positive but I just want to say, "haven't you figured out that I switch it up All. The. Time?! enough with the comments!!"

Allison said...

I always feel weird about wearing hats in public. Not winter hats (toques and such) but things like the straw fedora-type hat I have on in my photo. I feel like I'm not hip enough to pull it off. And I don't want to draw attention to myself. I've put on outfits, and decided I didn't like them too late and had to just wear them - all awkwardly. I bought a dress for my cousin's wedding last winter and it was silk and really nice, but a bit shirt and tight at the bottom. After wearing it a bit I felt completely uncomfortable and felt like everyone was judging me on how my dress was clearly too small.


Kim Humes said...

Clearing judging ourselves harshly is something we all do, and we all deal with self-consciousness. It's normal to a point I suppose, in that way. I just wish what others think didn't matter to me quite so much lol

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