Wednesday, 1 November 2017

You are not responsible for other people's opinions


Words are powerful. They can heal, and they can destroy. They are a weapon that needs to be yielded carefully; because if it isn't, it will cause pain. 
Unfortunately, while everybody learns to speak, not everybody learns to speak with kindness.
Most people aren't mean on purpose, but careless; however, the result is still the same: we are getting hurt. 

The good news is that we can learn to shield ourselves. Instead of being helpless against barbed comments and sharp words, we can create an armour weaved out of even stronger words. The power of words goes both ways!
I'm one of those people who gets easily discouraged. When I was younger, I wanted nothing more than for people to like me. Fitting in and being accepted were my two most important goals in life. 
However, I also have this wild streak in me of wanting to be wild and free and not giving a damn about the naysayers of this world! How can I become this fearless woman I want to be when I'm also annoyingly oversensitive?

I'm currently reading Mark Manson's book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck (I highly recommend it!), which is all about learning what to give a fuck about. The opinion of other people is not amongst them.
On my path to self-empowerment and fierceness, I've been reading lots and lots of life advice from people much smarter than me. 
And it has dawned on me that I've been making lots of mistakes in the past. 

The first one is a big one: I thought I had to explain myself to other people. 
As someone who has made a few unconventional life choices (dropped out of college; moved across the world with one suitcase to marry a man 25 years my senior; decided to not have kidsquit my secure job without having another one lined up; owning 5 dogs), I've had to answer lots of questions about my choices over the years. I'm usually more than happy to answer them; after all, I blog about my life, and that invites questions. Besides, I'm curious about other people's lives too, especially when they are unusual and interesting.

However, I don't owe anyone an explanation. I've had my fair share of people wondering out loud why I live my life the way I do, and I always tried to explain my reasons.
But then I came across this quote by astrophysicist and author Neil deGrasse Tyson:

"I am under no obligation to make sense to you."

And it really hit me. I don't have to make sense to other people! What a radical - and liberating - realization. 


Another mistake I'm trying not to make any more is to speak for other people.
I'm finding myself more often than I thought possible in the weird situation of having to explain my husband to other people. Our wide variety of different animals baffles them. And instead of confronting him, they come to me. Maybe I am more approachable? (Less scary is more like it. Rich has no problem telling people where to stick their opinions.)

Over and over again I've had friends and acquaintances tell me in a slightly aggressive tone that we have too many animals, and that we need to downsize. What gives them the right? I have no idea.
I don't walk around telling people what I think of their lifestyle, so I can't quite understand what compels them to do that to me. But they do, and it is a great source of anxiety for me.

I've been trying to find ways to deal with it and to shut them down, and in doing so, I found another great quote by Lisa Kleypas:

"A long time ago I learned not to explain things to people.
It misleads them into thinking they're entitled to know everything I do."

Just like the first quote, this one emphasizes a simple truth that I keep forgetting: I don't owe other people an explanation. As long as we don't hurt anyone, we can live however the hell we please. 

I'm creating my personal armour of words one quote and life lesson at a time, and it's starting to work! I have a collection of encouraging words on my wall next to my desk, as a constant reminder that I can do me without having to apologize for it.  

As Robert Downey Jr. says:

"Just be you, and if people don't like it
well, fuck them."

We are going to be okay!

xoxo Miriam

P.S. I shared a few more kickass quotes from RDJ in my latest newsletter. If you are into tips about how to live out loud and stop apologizing for who you are, sign up here!



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2 comments

  1. I don;t live a conventional life to my friends and family either. We don't have conventional heat. He warm the house with our fire place and space heaters. WHY? Because we don't want to deal with getting it fixed. We used the money we saved this year to buy a Dodge Charger instead because it makes us happy. Maybe next year we will get the system replaced. Our AC is crap, the windows are old and drafty. Maybe we will fix that next year too. We bought the house like this. "normal people" would have taken care of these things when they moved in... but here we are almost 10 years later. Oh and since Allyson left for college, we rarely cook... maybe once a week. People question these things all the time. I just say we want to live our lives and be happy! Life is too short to worry about that stuff.

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    Replies
    1. And that, my friend, is why I love you. We have to meet one day!
      All this superficial stuff - how tidy our houses are, how well we fit in with the neighbourhood, how much we behave like everyone around us - is so unimportant. Who the hell cares? Everybody should be free to live however the hell they please - and yet, some people just can't leave it alone when someone is different from them.
      Thank you for sharing, you are amazing!!!

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