“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.