Why Do Others' Opinions Matter so Much?
And why do we care?
On a daily basis, we must interact with other individuals; and whether they know it or not, there is a sort of judgment that everyone can catch a whiff of. Opinions are simply that, an opinion. They are not the facts, they are not what defines us, and yet other people's’ opinions seem to define how we dress, how we act, and how we interact with our peers. But why?
Our opinions of ourselves are formed when we are most impressionable, our childhoods. The way our parents and relatives treated us when we were younger strongly impact the overall view we have on ourselves when we are older. For many, they are encased with the love and support of their parents no matter what the situation may be; scoring a goal in a game, drawing a simple picture, doing well on a test, or even not doing so well. Children met with this kind of affection, for the most part, end up having a stronger sense of self-establishment that is much harder to shake.
On the other hand, children who come from abusive homes or simply situations that, at a young age, one should not be put into, tend to already have a lower self-establishment than the aforementioned. If a child is blatantly ignored by a parent throughout their childhood, they will, in turn, seek validation from everyone in their lives, constantly feeling as though they are not enough, nor will they ever be.
Those who grow up to be affected by depression tend to feel this already and place even more of themselves into the hands of others. A constant worry of not fitting in, not being what is right for the world or even one’s self can be difficult, but this difficulty is only enhanced by the side glances and stank faces thrown one's way, even if it is not intended for them.
As someone affected by depression who grew up in a semi-negligent household [only when I spent time with my father], I find myself constantly searching for the approval of my significant other as well as my family. I am so concerned with the idea of disappointing others that it took a semester longer than it should’ve in order to decide I needed to transfer for my mental health. I sat in my room and just cried, debating if transferring to a lesser-known school was really worth it or if I would just cause disappointment.
Whether I knew it or not at the time, social psychology got the best of me. We truly do act based upon real or imagined responses from real or imagined people. But it is important to note that one of the best things I ever did is decide to transfer, to finally talk through the idea with the people it would truly affect, to realize that I was not disappointing anyone but myself, and even then barely.
No one knows your past or your future, they only get you for this short moment of time. The comments they make, they’re not the truth, because they don’t know where you’ve been or where you’re going. It is important to remind oneself of this, especially when the lows are getting lower. As stupid and immature as it sounds, look into the mirror once in the morning and once at night, tell yourself something positive about yourself. I know it can be hard, but you need to, or else their comments will cause spirals that will seem to never end.
You are the only person in control of who you are. Yes, rumors may spread, but as long as you have a strong sense of self, it will be fine. This is a strange phrase, but it will be fine. There are so many definitions for fine, depending upon who you ask. For some it means just surviving, others it means that while it may be rough now, it will soon balance out to how it should be. Just know the universe does have positive things in store for you, their opinions do not matter. You will be okay, you will be successful, you will prove everyone who said something negative about you wrong.
The opinions of others may matter now, but in the future, they will not. This is what needs to be focused on, the future, not now. Not how you feel in this very moment as she stares at you from across the cafe as though your existence is inconveniencing her, but how you will feel once your life plans work out for you.