5 Things That Happened When I Stopped Caring What People Think Of Me

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stop caring what other people think
Self

Because nobody's got time for that.

For the past six months, I haven’t gotten a haircut. This wasn’t planned.

I wake up, go to sleep, and sit at my desk during the day with rogue strands of hair constantly in my face. I use twice as much shampoo/conditioner than I used to. I wear the same Orioles hat every day because it’s not long enough to put in a proper man bun (yet).

A few months ago I could comb it to the side still (like they did in the 50s), but it’s so long in the back now that it literally curls up 30 minutes after getting out of the shower.

It’s unruly. My hair is unruly. It answers to no comb, or hair dryer, or the what I can only assume are the horribly judgmental eyes of folks who rarely see long hair on a man outside of when they sit down to watch The Lord of the Rings.

My current hairstyle is a symbol of my new outlook on how others perceive me:

I used to care a lot, too. I used to put so much pomade in my hair that it could bunker down safely in hurricane force winds. I should know ― I lived in Orlando.

I came back from my trip this summer with a new mindset, I guess. I realized that I don’t need to put in work to attract anyone by looking nice. I don’t want someone to fall in love with me because of my style. I want them to fall in love with me because of who I am and what I write.

The truth is ever since I stopped caring about my hair, and how others perceive me, I started noticing some things.

 

1. My mind is quieter.

Is quieter a word? Whatever. Normally my mind is like a pinball machine, bouncing from thought to thought at the speed of light. It used to be so bad that when I’d talk to people I would literally sweat on the inside of my body hoping I didn’t say something stupid.

Now I’m much more relaxed and have more fruitful conversations (I find).

When you take the worrying out of it, your shoulders drop down a few levels and your brain gets quiet. Then you’re perfectly in the moment, enjoying a simple conversation more than you would’ve before.

 

2. I’m more comfortable in social situations.

My conversations improved, but also my willingness to seek old friends out and talk to them increased dramatically. Because I stopped worrying about how others viewed me, I was able to spend more time thinking about how others were doing.

And before I was so worried about embarrassing myself in conversation, but now that that worry is gone, I’m much more open to talking with old friends.

It’s an ironic cycle, but I’m happy because of it.

 

3. I get better sleep.

Ever go to bed and think about stupid stuff in the dark for hours when you should be sleeping? That used to happen to me all the time. I would stress about schoolwork, and money, and all the day's events where I acted like an awkward idiot.

The root of all that stress, though, was how people viewed me. I wanted to do well in school because I wanted to be seen as a hard-working person (among other things). I worried about student loans because I often felt I would have a hard time getting a job after college given that there are other, more qualified people on the playing field.

This, as you can tell, all leads back to worrying about what others think of me.

I can’t tell you whether getting better sleep is actually an effect of not caring, but it sure seems that I’ve been sleeping very well for the past few months compared to usual.

 

4. I’m okay with being silent.

People equate silence with being boring or having a lack of interest in whatever you’re doing. I used to think I had to entertain and constantly fill the air with noise because I wanted to be seen as somebody who was fun and outgoing.

I realize now that that’s not me, and if anyone chooses to see me as boring or whatever, that they’re missing out on the other part of the story.

Now if I have nothing to say, or if I want to sit by myself and not talk to anyone, I will! Conversely, if I want to go talk to other people and engage in conversation, I’ll do that also.

 

5. I don’t feel bad for things anymore.

If someone gets angry with me for an unjustified reason (doesn’t happen too often), I don’t let it phase me anymore. Before I would rush to apologize because I wanted to stay in their favor, but now I don’t really care.

On a side note, I, and you for that matter, don’t deserve someone who gets angry with us for making decisions that make us happy.

I used to feel bad for hurting people’s feelings, and I still do if it’s justified, but all too often I find that people pick unnecessary fights half the time.

If they want to do that, they can go right ahead, honestly.

This article was originally published at Huffington Post. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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