If there's anything I tend to get all wrapped up in my head about, it's the ways I convince myself everybody must absolutely be judging me for whatever situation I'm in that seems less-than-ideal. I feel imaginary judgment coming at me from all sides, whether or not it exists. I find that I routinely have to re-center myself with the knowing that I am a human being, things change and leave and grow; That some nights are harder than others, and some days seem better than not. At the end of the day, how we see ourselves is all a matter of perception, and it's easy for that to get skewed in the light of what we fear could be true. And the thing is, so many people feel the same way. So I'm here to dismantle some of the irrational beliefs we have about what people are really judging us for and not. The reality is that even if someone were to think less of you because of something like this, it's only a result of their own conditioning and fearfulness.
1. Having unjustifiable debt
It's easy to mentally write off the debt that other people would approve of. The "acceptable" kinds of debt, stemming from things that are healthy and productive and worthwhile, like for a house or education. But sometimes you rack up a credit card with nothing great to show for it. Sometimes you overspend when you really shouldn't. This is called being human. This is called the process. Everybody has unjustifiable debts they're embarrassed of. How often do you spend judging other people for their finances? You don't do that, like, at all. Unless you're an actual monster, but then I'm not speaking to you anyway. Most of us, if anything, feel better when other people have to reckless financial messiness because it makes us feel not alone in our own! Regardless, sitting around feeling bad won't get you out of it any faster (nor will it ensure you get into the headspace that doesn't get you into it again.)
2. Being emotional about a situation that's been really hard on you
You know that thing when you have super strong feelings about something but you feel compelled to hide those feelings because you're afraid to let other people know just how emotional you are? It's the worst. The problem most people have with being upfront with their emotions, and why they err toward dishonesty when it comes to stating how they really feel, boils down to not believing that other people would think they're reacting appropriately to the situation. But here's the thing: No one who doesn't fully suck at life is going to ever judge you for how you react to something that's happening/has happened to you. Only YOU get to decide the size of your pain—no one else. So sure, you had a hard time getting over a relationship that meant something to you, and sure, your childhood bruises aren't totally healed yet. Anybody who's judging you for being human and having a past and loving and trying enough to be able to fail and be disappointed has no concept of what it means to be actually living a worthwhile life. Let them go.
3. Wanting kids while you're young
Nowadays, wanting to be a mom in your 20s is as taboo as not wanting kids was 60 years ago. Some people will chalk it up to your cultural conditioning and inability to create the life you actually want. But some people just want kids. That's their truth. Wanting to have kids, and wanting to do so at a particular age, is vitally true for them. It isn't a flaw. It isn't being "not ambitious". It isn't hiding, or being irresponsible, or trying to fill some pathological emotional void. SOME PEOPLE JUST WANT KIDS, and have good reasons for wanting them at a younger age. As long as you're preparing for it in an emotionally/mentally/physically/financially healthy way, don't let others tell you which truths are appropriate to live out.
4. Not posting every detail of your life on social media
Nobody is thinking you're living less or being boring or not totally in love with your partner if you're not exploiting every moment of your life for a "like" and acknowledgement that you are, in fact, valid and cool. (That's the reason we do it so often, at the end of the day.) In fact, chances are, they're not really thinking about you... at all.
5. Not having a million friends
The luckiest among us will find one or two incredible people to share this life with, and if we do, we genuinely are very lucky. But we're still sold this idea that "good, well-adjusted" people have tremendous volumes of friends, thus making us feel all kinds of pressure to expand the size of our squad, and feel dissatisfied with the reasonably small number of wonderful friends we DO have. The truth: Not everybody has swaths of friendships to claim to their tribe, and honestly, good for them. Most people can't psychologically maintain a genuine connection with more than a few people. It doesn't mean you're unpopular or unloved—it means you're not going to settle for anything less than real companionship.
6. Working an hourly job
The entire concept of full-time office work = good, and part-time job = bad is perhaps the most screeching sign of a backwards minded society. Why? Because the people who work hourly jobs keep our society running. They ensure our cars are working and our trains are conducted; that there's food to buy in the supermarket and coffee on our way to work. If you have shame for working the hourly shift game, you're not thinking of it the right way (and you absolutely need to get past the idea that anybody else worth your time of day would ever judge you for that either).
7. Not always looking perfectly put-together
Nobody (and I mean nobody) cares that you're in your sweatpants or leggings again. They don't care that your hair is in a bun and that your makeup is from last night. Nobody's looking, nobody's caring, nobody's judging... and if they do notice, it's more, "Oh, thank god, she's a mess too," not "Ugh, can she get her life together?"
8. Still living with your parents
If you need to stay at home for any period of time (so long as all parties involved are okay with it), you do what you have to do. No, it's not ideal for the independence-seeking 20-somethings, but if it's financially or otherwise what you need to do for yourself, I think it's more shameful to put yourself in a situation simply to keep up with appearances when you can't afford it or don't feel comfortable.
9. Not enjoying the whole concept of "going out"
By "going out," I don't mean, "leaving your home and interacting with the world," which is a thing you should definitely do regularly. I mean, "wearing a bandage dress and drinking flavored vodka in a room full of awkwardly-stagnant strangers and not being able to hear anybody as they speak until you're so sick the next morning you can't move for a day." In terms of THAT kind of going out, I mean, take it or leave it. Most people actually don't find that to be fun in the slightest, but convince themselves they do because that's what's "cool." (There's an unresolved middle schooler in us all.) Point is: no shame in the homebody game. A little shame in exploiting your Friday nights for the sake of living up to your peers' expectations.
Images: ABC; Giphy(9)