Life / Relationships / Sex, Dating & Relationships

You Should Care What Other People Think About You

“Real Life is actually a lot more like high school. The common denominator prevails. Excellence is not always recognized or rewarded. What we watch on our screens, whom we elect, are determined to a large extent by public polls. Looks count. A lot. And unlike the best of the college experience, when ideas and solutions somehow seem attainable if you just get up early, stay up late, try hard enough, and find the right source or method, things on the outside sometimes seem vast and impossible, and settling, resigning oneself, or hiding and hunkering down becomes the best way of getting along.” ~ Meryl Streep

You should care what other people think about you. You are a member of the human race; whether you like it or not you live in this world with a lot of other people, and you owe it to those people to do your best to avoid making their lives worse.

It’s common courtesy.

If being commonly courteous doesn’t bother you, then consider the fact that trying your best to make a good impression wherever possible will make your own life easier. Whether or not you successfully attain any advantage that you wish to in life, be it a job opportunity, or a promotion, or a partner, or a healthy social circle, is entirely dependent on how much you can convince other people to like you. And walking around with the attitude that you shouldn’t have to sugar-coat or censor your personality, or that you are who you are, and anyone who doesn’t like it can go to hell, does not say to other people, “I’m nice, like me.” In fact, it can often be perceived as an invitation to dislike you.

Because Meryl Streep was right. Life is a lot like high school. Sure there’s some work involved; but how successful you are, and how pleasant your experiences will be, is largely decided by a series of popularity contests.

When you go for a job interview you are, for the most part, simply being assessed on how likable you are compared to the other candidates. They already know that you’re qualified to do the job, they can see that on your résumé. The interview is to decide which one of you equally qualified people they will best be able stand to have around the place while you’re doing it.

And the contest continues once you’ve got the job. If you’re angling for a promotion they’re hardly going to give it to you if you’ve spent every day since they hired you being either a shoddy, lazy worker, a trouble-maker, or a prickly sour-puss; making your supervisors rue the day they ever took you on.

When it comes to looking for a partner, your potential dating pool is largely correlated to the number of people of your preferred gender who can stand to be alone in your company. A nice personality comes top of the list of what anybody worth being in a relationship with looks for in a potential mate; so your chances of success will exponentially increase if you take the time to cultivate one.

And you need a support network of friends and/or family who you can turn to in times of need. Because nobody is particularly inclined to go out of their way for people they dislike.

In the six years I worked in homelessness you would not believe the number of people I saw who had absolutely nowhere to stay because they’d pissed off everyone around them to the extent that folks would rather walk by them sleeping in a shop door way than allow them to stay on their sofa. All because these fools believed that they had some innate right to be themselves, regardless of how miserable it made anyone else.

Now, a lot of these people will argue, “hey, it’s not my fault I’m anti-social, blame the people who made me this way.” And, sure, I have a little sympathy with this. I’ve been through some stuff, and I know how it feels to think the world is a cold and dangerous place, solely populated by people who will only hurt you if you let them in.

But the thing is that you’re wrong. You’re objectively, measurably wrong.

And the little old lady in the corner shop, and your brother’s girlfriend, and the random people waiting at the bus stop are in no way responsible for the things that have happened to you. So quit taking it out on them. Get yourself some therapy.

Because the thing is, deep down you do care. It does bother you when other people judge you negatively, because otherwise you wouldn’t need to tell everybody, or write in your bio, about how it doesn’t. I don’t care about what the weather is like in Auckland on any given day, and so I literally never bring up it in conversation

And that’s okay, it’s natural to care, at heart we humans are social animals. We like to join together in groups. But if you want to be a part of any group you need to show that you have something to contribute. And that means that to some extent you’re going to need to start caring what they think.

 

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12 thoughts on “You Should Care What Other People Think About You

  1. life is a lot like high school. It makes me sad.

    I care what other people think of me. I think most people are pretty shallow and they only look at the surface and that’s just the way life is. We all make first impressions, some of us don’t even bother to look deeper, and you just have to learn to live and work with others in a way that is more beneficial to both than to none at all.

    It’s all a game, and you have to learn to play it. Work hard, live well, love others, and things will be good.

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  2. I am going to come out on the other side of this idea. I do my best never to worry about what other people think of me, because any opinion they might express is heavily colored by their own place in their life. I didn’t always think this way — I used to thrive on the good opinion of others, and die with each bad one. Once I accepted who I am, warts and all, I understood that my opinions about others have no more validity to them than theirs do for me.

    This is not the same as being discourteous, rude, ignorant of the world around me — quite the opposite, understanding my own prejudices and opinions of others offers the knowledge that all of us are in the same boat, and we need to be nice to each other, but not define ourselves by others’ opinions.

    Still, a really well-written post! 😎

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  3. I think there’s a difference between being thick-skinned and flat-out not caring what people think. It’s a difference that is missed a lot by people. I think being thick-skinned is an excellent thing, but as you point out, it’s not good to completely ignore what people think about you. First impressions last, and it can never hurt to leave a good one.

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    • I think being thick skinned is about having enough confidence in yourself to appreciate that just because you don’t gel with some people, or some people don’t agree with you, doesn’t mean there’s necessarily anything wrong with you, or what you’re doing. Whereas caring about what people think of you and the impression you’re creating in the broader sense is about good manners. And many people who behave badly, or rudely, are actually pretty insecure.

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  4. This is so true. The people forever spouting I DON’T CARE WHAT ANYONE THINKS OF ME are the people who behave like arseholes. Of course I care what people think of me. I care what my friends, family and boyfriend think of me. I want them to like me as much as I like them.

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  5. I think it mostly surprises me that people become so apathetic and don’t care how they are viewed. There are times when I have outright disliked myself, and could only credit love as the reasoning behind anyone sticking with me through those seasons. I have found balance for being myself and being conscious of others. I don’t like the rough, abrasive parts of my personality, so I strive to break myself of those habits. Loved this.

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    • I do think in a lot of cases it’s about insecurity. People think that people won’t like them, so rather than make an effort and risk being rejected, they say they don’t care, and behave badly, so then people will be rejecting them for the poor showing they’ve made of themselves instead. It’s not a healthy way to go about living though.

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      • Well, I suppose I would argue that a fear of rejection is an insecurity. The thought process that there’s something not good enough or too much inside of you that people would walk away. How are those sorts of people not simply exhausted from all of their concerted efforts to be alone?

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        • I have no idea, even though I once made similar efforts to be alone because I was horrendously, crippling lay shy. I can’t really think now why I ever thought that anyone would be that bothered by me. Why I thought I was so important that could feel that strongly about me.

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