Confession: I Care Way Too Much About What People Think Of Me

Somewhere between my rebellious pre-adolescence and coming of responsible age, I became hyper self-aware and overly-conscious of how other people perceive me. Is this what being an adult feels like? Is this the inevitable evolution from the “I-don’t-care-what-anyone-thinks-about-me” stage? Or is there something else going on?

I used to have a bit of an ego – I admit it. I really didn’t care what anyone thought about me because I loved myself. I thought I had everything figured out. I thought I was exponentially more mature and more talented than my peers. I was a Myspace celebrity with 62,000 friends; I got hundreds of comments on my Livejournal posts about my above-average life; I had a few “haters” which obviously meant I was awesome; I was repeatedly praised for being the best artist / best writer / best whatever; and I was constantly reaching for bigger and better things because I felt I was great enough to obtain them.

Then I turned 20.

Suddenly I wasn’t the teenage prodigy anymore. I was just another deluded, narcissistic “millennial”, running the young adult rat race for shallow success and attention. Then Myspace died, and I no longer had the validation of online popularity. New younger talent rose up above me out of the creation of Tumblr and Instagram, and I became obsolete when I didn’t keep up with the changing of social technology. And when I tried, I was criticized and made fun of by “friends” for taking “selfies” and being an “Internet personality.” And in my real life, college courses got harder and design/photo jobs became slimmer – suddenly I wasn’t the best artist / best writer / best whatever anymore. I stopped striving for bigger and better things because I didn’t feel like I was great enough anymore. I let the many disembodied voices of criticism and the fear of other people’s opinions consume me. This self-confidence I had was slowly being drained out of me and I was left with the bare bones of insecurity.

The demi-punk 16-year-old version of myself (the one with the weird side mohawk) that used to say and do whatever she wanted without a care in the world would be pretty bummed to see me as this self-conscious, super-anxious person who lets trivial concerns and the thoughts of others dictate my worth. Maybe that earlier girl was sometimes arrogant and little self-absorbed, but at least she had dreams and fearlessly chased after them.

I’m tired of allowing myself to shrink into a shell because I don’t want people to view me negatively. I’m tired of trying so hard to keep my “ego” in check so people don’t call me “arrogant”, so much to the point that my self-worth has deflated. I’m tired of not chasing after my dreams because I’m afraid of looking silly. I’m tired of caring way too much about what people think of me.

I’m gonna do what I want to do, say what I want to say, post what I want to post, create what I want to create, and live how I want to live.

11 comments on “Confession: I Care Way Too Much About What People Think Of Me

  1. Sometimes I find the best way to silence my insecurities is to forget myself for a bit. When I step back and take a look at the big picture, not only then do I feel so valuable because I’m a tiny speck that God decides to care about, but I can remember there is so much going on around me. When I consider and pray for the unspeakable things I read in the news or extend compassion and care to others, in those moments I’m putting myself aside for a bigger, more important purpose.
    All that to say, when I am stuck dwelling on me, me, me, God is always there reminding me that His opinion is always the most important, and wow is that a relief. He always gives the benefit of the doubt and let’s me be me, no matter what happens.

    • My internal dialogue about this is complicated. I feel less insecure about who I am, but how I am. I worry more about the way I project myself to the rest of the world. I know who I am, what I’m good at, and what I want to do with my life, but I hold myself back because I’m afraid of looking silly to other people, or being criticized if my actions rub people the wrong way.

      I used to do what I wanted without concerning myself with the opinions of others, but somewhere along the way, I started becoming really self-conscious, and it’s rapidly grown to be a dominating trait of mine — at least internally. I get anxiety over almost everything. And I’m constantly second-guessing my decisions (I brainstorm lots of creative projects but never follow through with them because people might think the idea is dumb; I don’t shoot most of my self-portrait ideas anymore because I don’t want people to think I’m being vain — I even try to space out the amount of “selfies” I post on Instagram because I’m concerned with how it looks to other people if I have too many pictures of myself; I don’t seek out opportunities to grow my blog, and I struggle to write genuine blog posts now because I’m always thinking about how other people might receive it).

      See what I mean? I’m less focused on “me” and more on “them.”

      I feel like I have to just start doing things on a whim that I want to do, even when they make me uncomfortable and not worry about what other people are going to think. Maybe then I can start to undo all of this worrying. That’s what this post sort of is. I just did something I wanted to do without over-thinking whether or not I should actually post it and didn’t focus on how it would be received by others. I just did it because I wanted to.

  2. Corinne! I really am surprised that you feel this way! Most likely because of how you were in high school you were always independent and knew what you wanted to do and i felt like that would never change in you. I honestly believe that the opinions of others towards your media or how you portray yourself on these websites don’t matter at all. The positive do matter of course but the negative not at all. If they are being “haters” isn’t that a sign of being jealous of you and your media? The last sentence of the initial post is amazing and I believe if you follow that then you will get over your insecurities because we all know stuck with pins and you eating ghosts is always gonna be awesome :]

    • Haha, thanks Timmy. This was really encouraging to hear. :)

      Yeah, I never thought my old way of doing things would ever change either. But I had a few “humbling” experiences happen that really got me down. If these were just the opinions of random “haters” then I probably could have ignored them better. But these initial criticisms came from friends, and that’s a lot harder to ignore and forget. These friends never intended to hurt me, but it happened to turn out that way. And I’ve been dealing with it every since.

      I’m really gonna start trying from here on out though to silence those insecurities and push past the uncomfortableness. Maybe even do a few outrageous things to really catapult me back into the strong-willed self-confident person I was always meant to be.

  3. Corinne I understand how you feel. I’m a little bit of the opposite of you. On Myspace I had my fair share of the playing field with 15,000 friends, but I didn’t have a talent I was brave enough to share like the other scene/punk kids. So I looked up to people like you because of your ego, and talent to back up the attitude. I started pushing myself in my fine art and photography classes, and I started to just feel better about myself. Like I’ve said before, I’m an atheist and I’ve known that about myself for quite some time now. However, all of your Stuck With Pins post still inspired me. You got a message to speak to me that I truly had no interest in. Then as time went on you opened my interest into oddities. Your book is currently on my nightstand (no lie). I just turned 20 this year, and thanks to people like you I’m starting to stand up for myself and my own talents. I finally feel as if I can have a place on the internet like all of the other “new” talent you described. I think that Myspace may have died, and we all have lost our fan bases, but Corinne your talent is still raw and amazing. There isn’t a single person who I’ve shown your work to who doesn’t like it. Even my old fashioned father loves your book! On top of it all you have a beautiful face and figure, and a relationship that seems like a fairy tale. I think we all go through these little phases. You ARE STILL THE BEST! If you ask me. How many young woman have as many talents as you do? And as for friends I understand that feeling as well. I just tell myself, “they’re laughing now, but when I’m famous they’ll be dying to be in my selfies”. Best of luck to you pretty lady. <3

    • Haha, I seriously laughed out loud at that selfie comment. That’s gonna be my new mantra. ;)

      Thanks for the encouraging words girl! It’s really inspiring to hear that I’ve been such an inspiration to someone else for this long. Things like that truly keep me going.

  4. Corinne. Harkening back to 2008-2009, you helped me to realize that I could be a person with a testimony. I thought my successes were unenviable, and my failures, unrelatable. Your powerful example of being someone alive in faith, creativity, verve, and disregard for restrictive social convention inspired me to break free from my own self-doubt and cynicism and start over. Immediately I had to battle the desire to feel cool and accepted–as I began to hope that that was possible step in my personal growth. Recently I have been reminded from a conference that when I place my trust in the acceptance and affirmation of others to validate me, I idolize them above the acceptance and affirmation of God. I start to make little of what God thinks of me, and very much of what others think of me. It’s kind of like my “Isaac” so to speak–the gift from God that I count at times as more important than the Gift-giver Himself. My personal challenge is to change my mind and heart back to treating God’s opinion as most important, so that being satisfied in the acceptance and affirmation I have freely received, I can be free to rejoice in the gift I receive in others’ praise without letting it define my identity. Being secure in one’s identity is a transformational thing. Because of your example, I realized despite my exceptionally awkward and unsure steps, a path of confidence, hope, and trust in God’s promises is possible. Now that I am on staff with a non-profit organization that empowers college students, I teach them the same thing I learned from you. Be encouraged!

    • Aw John, you’re gonna make me cry!

      I really love this! – “I can be free to rejoice in the gift I receive in others’ praise without letting it define my identity.” So good! Thanks for the great advice. Can’t wait to get together soon and hear all about what you’ve been up to.

  5. Haven’t had as much time to comment on your stuff lately, but I’m still lurking around.

    It’s too hard, draining and stressful constantly worrying about what others think of you, especially since most of them aren’t really that important to your everyday life or long term goals anyway. I wouldn’t care about the quantity of friends that you have, but the quality of them. I’ve become great friends with people I’ve ‘met’ on the internet and have stayed in contact for years. They are more important to me and are better friends than some ‘friends’ I’ve met in real life. Just be sure to remember who is criticizing you for being an ‘internet personality’ or for wearing a Greedo costume, and think about whether or not you should care about their opinion. Do your thing, and if the people you care about most have an issue with something, take note of it. There is nothing that says you need to please all people or care what they think, so just don’t.

    And you don’t need to be arrogant, you just need to be confident. You should be though, because everything I’ve ever seen you produce has been fantastic, intriguing, and inspiring to me and many others.

  6. I completely understand all of this- moving from an above-average adolescent to a pretty average adult leads to exactly the feelings you’re describing. It was very affirming to read this, though. I will resolve to do the same.

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