It’s safe to say that I have a very adventurous spirit. I’ve climbed a waterfall in Jamaica, snorkeled in the Bahamas, and rode an elephant in Bali. I’ve sampled a wide variety of cuisine from fresh sushi in Japan to fried gator in New Orleans. I’m not afraid to holla at a gentleman that I find interesting and intriguing. I’ve just moved to one of the largest cities in the world. I enjoy flying, my Pisces spirit LOVES cruising, and my soul is most at peace driving in my car, which these days I’m clocking about 15,000 miles per year. So what exactly am I afraid of?
YOUR OPINION OF ME.
Child, if I even hear the faintest rumor that you don’t like me or think highly of whatever I do, you can pretty much guarantee that I will be promptly spending my precious mind waves figuring out exactly what I did to offend you and how I can make it right. I’m sure that I’ve lost at least one entire year of my life in sleepless nights and mental exhaustion trying to atone and appease people who I think are pivotal in maintaining my self-worth and value. From the estrogen-filled halls of my all-girl high school to the tension-ridden cubicles of several nonprofit DC organizations, if you’ve even cut your eyes at me in a threatening manner, trust me you’ve probably had the pleasure of riding with me during a traffic jam around the Beltway or crept into my dreams after I’ve turned off Netflix. Your opinion of me means a lot because for some strange reason I’ve never trusted my own.
A few weeks ago, I was busy sorting and purging boxes in preparation for my move to Brooklyn. Just as I was growing weary of shredding and organizing, I got a call from my friend Laura. (Look at me acknowledging you as the primary source for the inspiration behind this blog post. You’re welcome. Folks, no worries about the sarcasm. That’s how we roll after eight years of friendship.) We caught up on our individual life events and I began hashing out my still-raw emotions from resigning from my last job just two weeks prior. I wasn’t upset about my caliber of work or the lack of direction I received. I was most concerned that there could potentially be a perception of me out in the world as an incompetent quitter.
Laura immediately swooped in with her blunt truth that I’ve learned to equally love and loathe, and said, “That’s the difference between you and me. You care about what people think about you and I simply don’t.”
Well, ouch. That didn’t make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But she had a point. There was NO WAY in the world that I could physically get inside the head of all my former co-workers and make them think any differently of me. I couldn’t stop any conversations, real or imagined, about me or my tenure. The ONLY thing I could do was stand in my TRUTH, knowing that I had done the best job possible with the parameters I’d received, and leave those big, bad opinions right where they belonged: with those other people.
Learning to stand in my own truth instead of in the opinions of others will DEFINITELY be an on-the-court, practical skill for me in 2014. One thing that I’ve begun to practice is giving myself only three things to focus on each day. If one of those things just so happens to be a person, my focus on you better be because I’m praying for you or collaborating with you that day. If my mind even ventures into “Why doesn’t he/she like me?” or “Why didn’t they receive my idea the way that I wanted them to?” then I know I’ve got some mental re-prioritizing to do to stay on track for the things that REALLY matter.
If you are a pleaser and appeaser like me, try taking on this scripture:
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” (Philippians 4:8, Message Bible)
Or if you need something a little closer to earth, take on these wise words from RuPaul: “You’re opinion of me is none of my business!”
If God has given you the same remedial course as me in 2014, “Stop Worrying About Other People 101,” I pray that this will be THE year that you tap into your own intelligence, beauty, worth, and value as a child of God and leave those big, bad opinions far away from the doors of your heart.