What will people think?

There’s a thing about blogging and I, I and blogging that- wait, is that even proper English? I’m typing this at 2AM local time, on a whim, so please bear with me. Anyway, back on track! There’s this thing that happens every time I start blogging: I am actually terrified to put my posts out there. A friend told me exactly the same the other day, that she wanted to blog badly, but found herself scared of letting her pieces of writing out into the world. I’ve since realized that’s also the reason I take so long between posts: I need time to gather the courage to do so. It does not come as a surprise.

When I was a teenager, there was a time I didn’t wear skirts, and for most of it I didn’t even dress how I would’ve wanted to. It took many years for me to actually dare to buy those shiny, golden shoes, or the high-waisted shorts, or the not-really-leather super skinny leggings, or that gorgeous dress with a back neckline that I now love. My ongoing battle (because it seems that there’s always one) is about bras: by falling in love with tops that don’t really work with bras, I’ve learnt I’m too self-conscious to go out without a bra. That’s ridiculous! Or it should be! Yet it all boils down to the same problem: what will people think? Will I look ridiculous? Am I showing too much? Maybe I don’t have the body to show this much? Oh my god my stretch marks!

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This train of thought is so ingrained that it affects much more than my battle with my clothes and my body (which I am winning, if I may say so; I took the decision to own my body and be proud of it, and some days it’s harder, but damn if I will let myself down!). This train of thought affects my writing, which I hardly ever let other people read, because what if they think it’s ridiculous? What if they think my motifs are not interesting? What if they think I’m not cut out for it? What if they think #%&#$?! It aggravates my fear of public speaking, it makes me look shyer than I actually am. For a long time, it made the process of coming out as a bisexual teenager an excruciating pain. And I’m tired of it.

I’m fully aware that behind those situations there’s more than the fear of what other people will think of me, but that’s such a big part of it that I find myself in awe at how much I don’t do, don’t say, don’t even try because of fear. Because some time along the way (hint: every single day while I grew up) I, as most people, was taught that what other people think of you is important, it’s so important that it’s okay to let it dictate how you live. It wasn’t mom, in fact she made such a big effort to remind me of the opposite, but it’s the underlying message in everything that surrounds us, and it’s so hard to leave behind. I know you know, because I feel that every one of us experiences this at one point or another. For most of us, it’s almost a lifestyle.

Asking oneself what will people think? before every action is exhausting, and it is ridiculous. I look just fine without a bra, and I might not be the best writer out there, but as long as I keep working on my craft, I have the potential to one day connect with my readers. You can wear that dress and rock that bikini, you can get the quirky tattoo you’ve been sketching on your notebooks, you can try out for a band, you can change careers paths or drop out of university because you found your calling elsewhere. It’s your life, it’s your choice, and maybe we all need to learn to make choices based on what will be better for us, what makes us happy, or what we want. Maybe we all need to unlearn the idea that we’re somehow someone to judge other people’s choices. If I might say so, specially women’s.

I don’t think it’s necessarily bad to care about what others think of you; we’ve all been conditioned to, after all. I think it’s bad to make it a reason to not do the things you want and to let it make you unhappy. I care too, but if I am going to, I’d rather care that my friends think I’m kind, or my mother knows I work hard, than what my Facebook contacts may have to say about my career choices or my tattoos. They make me happy, and that’s the key.

Now, my dear reader, if you’d like to share: what’s the thing you had to gather courage to do? Or the thing you’re still working on, no matter how silly you think it is?

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