by Olivia Delahunty
Editor's Note: The below piece was written by my friend Olivia. She is a fabulous writer, a good friend, and a mega babe. We went through a rocky patch a few years ago, and recently I discovered a savage unsent card that I had written to her about some bullshit that doesn't matter. I'm glad she never got it. I chose this piece because I, too, know what it feels like to lose touch with my intuition. If she and I had both not figured out how to listen to ourselves, we may have lost touch for good. The hardest part is learning how to recognize it while it's happening to you. Below, Olivia shares her tips to stay diligently present in your own life, like I assume so many of us are striving for each day.
It is not entirely true that I don’t care what anyone thinks about me. Throughout my life, I have made decisions solely based on how I will be perceived by others. Many times, I have ignored my own inner voice and gone against what I actually wanted to do in order to fit in.
I'd like to address that when I say that I don’t care what people think of my actions, I am not talking about my supportive friends, family, and partner whose opinions I treasure. I am lucky to be surrounded by incredible people who push me to be the best version of myself. These people challenge me, encourage me to take risks, and guide me back to myself when I get off track. They are people that I trust.
But what about the people who don’t matter? Those are the opinions that I once valued too much. Here are my four favorite ways to stop caring about what those people think.
1. Be true to yourself, you only have one life.
You cannot find out who you are while other people are telling you who to be. Explore what is important to you, and then boldly accept who you are. Once you find your values and believe in them, what everyone else thinks becomes insignificant. Time that you spend worrying about what people think of your clothes, your body, or your choices is not time that you can get back. Anne Lamott says this better than I can,
“Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.“
2. Treat yourself better.
There are one million things that you can do instead of sitting around and stewing about what people think of you. Pick up a new hobby and commit to it. Listen to your favorite music on a walk through your neighborhood. Cook your favorite meal for your friends. Light a candle and play your favorite video game for hours. Write letters to your people and tell them how much you love them. Volunteer for causes that matter to you. Set goals for yourself, crush them. Set more goals, crush them again.
You do not need to explain yourself to anyone.
3. Streamline social media to remove negativity.
Over the past year, I have cleansed my social media accounts and only kept people who post positive, quality content. I realized after graduation that I was following so many people who I didn’t even know or like that much. I post personal things on the internet about my family, grief, body image, my illness, and my relationship. I looked through my follower lists, and if I suspected someone didn’t actively support that, I blocked them. My friends joke that I am a Serial Blocker, but if someone has had something negative to say about me in the past, they should not be consuming my content! Put simply, Bye Haters!
4. Learn to move on.
I make a conscious effort to take criticism like water off a duck’s back instead of thinking of ways to defend myself. Again, this does not apply when it comes to constructive criticism from people who I love and trust. I am talking about unwarranted opinions from sad people. You may have heard of Resting Bitch Face, but what I suffer from is Resting Sad Bitch Face. Many friends of mine who I met in college said their first impression of me was not ideal. They have said at parties I seemed stand-offish, cold, and uninterested. I knew people felt this way about me, and it upset me. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to show someone who you truly are across the room at a party. In the end, I had to just get over it and laugh about it. I knew my truth then. I know it now. My friends know it now. That is what matters.
Ignore destructive criticism from people who do not matter, because you can never please everyone. Learn how to say fuck this, I’m moving on, and mean it. There is freedom in that.