If there’s one lesson I want to teach young people, it is for them to stop caring so much. I don’t mean not care about the world or other people, I mean stop caring so much about what other people think. I eventually learned this lesson but it wasn’t until I hit a milestone age—which I won’t mention here.
I spent so much of my formative years, twenties and years as a young mother concerned about what other people thought of me. “What if I don’t go to the party?” “Can I skip the baby shower?” “What will they think about this outfit?” Even something as silly as my nails aren’t done what will they say.
For the most part my oldest daughter, who is 25, gets this already. I think it’s because she is focused on her career and building the life that she wants for herself. She has surpassed many of her peers in terms of getting what she wants—a law career, being fiercely independent and quite sure of herself. It’s my belief that you can’t get to those places by second guessing yourself and worrying about what other people think.
My youngest however has been struggling with this for years. Part of it I suspect is that she wants to please everyone. She doesn’t want people to feel bad or to have anyone upset with her.
She was full of stress and anxiety in the weeks leading up to going back to college in California. She hadn’t spoken to many of her college friends over the summer and was worried about what they would think, among other things. I tried to calm her fears by telling her to stop worrying about what other people think. I told her that she was spending more time thinking about them than they were thinking about her. Grace often grapples with decisions she’s made and when she decides that she has changed her mind about something, doesn’t go through with backing out. Again, she is worried about what people think.
When you are stuck on what others think, you struggle with the ability to make your own decisions, and end up not knowing what you want.
A young woman who I mentor had a job offer but it wasn’t going to get her to the end result of being a reporter. She was worried about what would happen if she turned the job down and what the news director would think. I told her to go for the job she wants and to not worry about the fall out. The person making the job offer would not be thinking about her two seconds after she turned the job because they had to move on.
Too often we do things we don’t want to do because we are worried about other’s opinions. I assure you if you do this you are spending way more time and energy worrying than those you worry about disappointing spend thinking about you.
Peer pressure can be a soul crusher at any age. We have to stand up for what we believe in, believe in ourselves, trust ourselves, and be confident that the decisions we make are good ones. If someone doesn’t like it, so be it. And move on.
Lisa Robinson is the mother of two amazing young women. She is a freelance writer for several Baltimore area magazines, including Chesapeake Family Life. Lisa works as a news anchor and investigative reporter for WBAL-TV in Baltimore. When she’s not dealing with the drama of her two daughters, she’s busy cooking, working out, hosting her friends for get-to-getters, reading, and writing a non-fiction book. Lisa is one of the funniest people you’ll get to know. She relishes in saying the things others are afraid to. You can catch up with Lisa here and on Facebook and Twitter.