As a human being, it’s natural and predetermined that we are to care what those around us do or say. After all, and you may have heard this from someone else or in a Bio class, humans are social animals. Much like other animals, we rely and depend on a degree of socialization. Society wouldn’t be able to move forward and progress if we all just ignored each other and abided by “every man for himself”.
So, are introverts some kind of evolutionary step behind? Well, no, people are much more complex than general statements. But, the quality of communication is something that, at at least some point, a necessity. You can’t turn a blind eye to everyone else- not forever.
Then why do so many people tell you to not give a fuck what others think of you? I’m even guilty of trying to follow this advice. It’s been so actively pushed by so many people that it’d be hard to ignore it if you tried. Plus, you might find that not caring is the best method to avoid inner conflict.
It is another paradox. The paradox that we hear we ‘shouldn’t care what others think, yet it’s literally in our DNA to be wired to listen to the opinions of others-not only on ourselves, but on lots of topics. It’s this balance that really has always confused me.
What I have concluded, is that you really have to walk a fine line. That fine line is the line between being intelligent socially and becoming way too self aware.
The root of all social anxiety, as I believe it, boils down to self awareness. I talked about this a few posts ago, but I didn’t go super in-depth. The concept of ‘being aware of yourself’ is another biological trait that we are lucky to have- as we know it, not all animals or creatures even recognize that they exist. It’s a good thing, but it also can work against us. Since we all can think at a powerful level, inversely our minds can work against us. I fully believe the mind is as powerful a thing that exists in the world. I mean, would you argue with me? A computer only exists because some minds conjured it up. Everything that we’ve created is a result of our mind. So, with that being said, is it at all surprising that this powerhouse in our head can actually back fire?
In this instance, it can- if you let it. I think I’ve always had a heightened sense of self awareness. I don’t mean that in a good way, to say that I think more than you, but that I waste thoughts on myself, my appearance, and what others might be thinking of me. That last one is the most frustrating to say- I waste mental space on what others might be thinking of me. I don’t know why I do it- but in social settings, I always find myself coming across thoughts like “Am I coming off as rude to her?” or “They look upset, was it because of my tone?” or even “Why is everyone so silent? Am I giving off the wrong vibe?” Those thoughts are useless. They don’t really have a purpose, except to make me more anxious. They obviously aren’t intending on doing so, rather they are to smoothen edges and ensure I’m ‘socializing properly’. That’s what causes one to not be themselves, I believe- they over think. You start to wonder if people will perceive you differently because of what you might say. You wanna give off the right impression, so you hold off on making that joke. Or, you get nervous and uncomfortable because you may have caused someone to be upset.
Well, that is where the whole “give no fucks” advocates get their ideas from. It’s frustrating to over compensate for others, and effectively feel like you aren’t allowing yourself to be who you are. It is so frustrating that you can find countless articles online on why you should be more selfish in order to reduce self awareness. Or, that you should purposely do something out of the ordinary to de-sensitize yourself from caring about what others think. It’s a lot of science and research that really isn’t entirely true. If there is one thing that these articles taught me, is that everyone has a different perspective. In a way, I’d say to just ignore them.
On the other hand, like I was mentioning earlier, you are wired to care about other’s opinions of you. And, consequently, they are also programmed to consider your view on them. So, in that way, never feel guilty for reverting to a thought process that is natural. Anyone who claims to have never given a fuck about what a friend did or said about them, is just flat out not telling the truth. Some people have worked on it, some people are naturally less self aware, and yes, there are people out there that really don’t allow themselves to care what you think about them. But, at the root of it all, relax- you’re human.
That being said, my final take on this paradox is that you just have to walk that fine line. Don’t try and be a selfish lone wolf- it won’t work. But, don’t allow yourself to consciously think so much about what another may think of you. Just know that there is a paradox, and by trying to never care about another person’s perspective, you are inherently fighting biology. You can’t beat biology, none of us can. However, your brain is a powerful thing, and the next time you’re giving a public speech, try to refocus on your content and not what the girl at the furthest left desk might be thinking about you.
Thanks for reading
Luca DeJesu, 5:08 PM