Note to Self: Their Perception Is Not Your Reality

Right now, as I’m writing this post, I’m sitting at my desk (the kitchen island) vibing to Yellow by Aminé while optimistically sipping a glass half-full of red wine (seewhatIdidthere). I have this weird habit of listening to the same song repeatedly while I’m writing because it helps me stay focused (don’t ask, it works).

Anyway, as I mentioned in my last post, I’m doing a challenge each month to grow in different areas of my life. January’s challenge is no Instagram for 30 days. So it’s been, what, a little over three weeks now since I’ve been off IG, and it’s been pretty cool, actually.

My focus this month is self-confidence, hence my IG hiatus. Scrolling through a cyber-sea of random folk whose lives are seemingly more perfect or cooler or whatever than yours (even though you know they’re really not — but still) can be distracting and draining as hell, especially if your self-esteem ain’t all the way right. And for me, all of it basically magnified something internal that I’ve pretty much struggled with ever since I was a little girl: this irksome need to be “liked,” accepted and/or perceived in a positive light by others.

I just finished reading Gabrielle Union’s autobiography, We’re Going to Need More Wine, and aside from the questionable choice of font for the book cover (sorry, it’s my editor senses tingling), it was actually a pretty good read. One thing she said that really stuck with me was how she’s spent a large portion of her life trying to convince people — most of whom don’t even know her personally — that she’s a decent human being. Whether it was how she was perceived by her childhood classmates, Hollywood peers, fans or the media, she said she’s invested a lot of her time trying to win the affection and validation of others. And I can relate all too well.

A couple of weeks ago, I was binge-watching Big Little Lies (great show). During one of the episodes, Nicole Kidman’s character, Celeste, hit way too close to home with this one statement she made. When asked by her therapist why it was so difficult for her to leave her abusive marriage, Celeste replied, “Perhaps my self-worth is made up of how other people perceive me.” Y’all. This statement is literally my entire life. I even wrote it down because it’s so telling of my own sense of value.

From the time I was a little girl, I’ve always had this tendency to want to please others, especially family and friends. I held their opinions and perceptions of me on a mental pedestal, to the point where I would oftentimes place their feelings over mine. This resulted in a lot of ass-kissing throughout my childhood and adolescent years, particularly when it came to so-called friendships. A friend might catch an attitude with me over something petty, and me, being the people-pleaser, would instantly go out of my way to try and make things right, even if I hadn’t done anything wrong. I experienced several of these types of friendships from childhood all the way through adulthood, and I’ve learned the hard way how unnecessarily exhausting that s*** is.

But in more recent friendships, I’m learning (slowly, but surely) the value of meeting people where they are and loving from a distance. With family, I’m learning not to base my decisions on how they’ll feel or respond, but more rather, on what I believe is best for me.

Last year, I was severely unhappy where I worked, so I decided to quit my job. Of course, my parents were pissed when they found out I’d submitted my two weeks’ notice with no job lined up. But I knew if I told them I was quitting beforehand, they would’ve most definitely talked me out of it. ‘Cause, that’s what parents do — they talk their kids out of doing stupid stuff like quitting their jobs without having another job lined up. So, I went out on a limb of faith and made that stupid decision for myself. And less than two weeks after my last day at my previous job, I interviewed and received a job offer from the company I work at now (which I absolutely love).

For most of my life, my confidence has been predicated on how others perceive me and my choices. As a result, I’ve questioned and doubted myself often. I’ve stayed in sucky situations way longer than I should have. I’ve overanalyzed situations that were completely out of my control and shied away from ones I probably could’ve handled a lot better.

I guess the lesson here is that none of this really matters lol. People’s perceptions of you don’t matter. They don’t define or validate you. While it’s healthy, to a degree, to be conscious of the impression you leave on others in order to help you grow in certain areas of your life (if you care), your level of self-certainty should never be contingent upon what other people think of you. You don’t have to keep making people’s perception of you your reality.

Do you. Be you. And be confident in that.

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© 2019 by According to Kori