Dear People of the World: MYOB.
I just saw this article about how these parents who live in a beach condo received an anonymous note criticizing their choice to live there with 2 kids. As if billions of other people in the world don’t live in far worse conditions. As if there’s NOTHING to do so close to the beach. As if kids can’t share a room. I don’t need to list the reasons this note-writer is wrong (OK, I did a little bit!); anyone with a modicum of sense can tear apart this feeble argument. How sad is someone’s life that they have nothing better to do with their time?
I wanted to post this because it reminded me of a recent chat I had with my kids about not worrying over what other people think about you. Because sometimes worrying over others’ reactions or perceptions can lead to shame, or social avoidance. What if I get judged? What if I say the wrong thing? As a writer, I run into negative judgement on a daily basis, almost. I get emails. I get comments from people to my face.
I see a lot of viral posts about people feeling shamed because someone made a comment in the grocery store/side-eyed their partner/said their Goldendoodle wasn’t a real breed. It is true that people should keep their mouths shut, but it is also true that we will never be able to control what other people think or say.
The truth is, 99% of the time, what other people say or think about you has everything to do with them, and nothing to do with you or your actions. Someone is always going to have something negative to say about you, no matter how much you do right. It is far easier for someone to post a negative comment or make a lazy remark than to be constructive.
When people are jerks, you have a choice.You can let them get into your head and think about it dozens of more times, reliving it relentlessly. That doesn’t seem like a good deal for you!
If you care, you can engage and try to state your side, but most of the time it’s not worth it for a brief interaction with a stranger.
So you can shrug, think, “Sheesh, wonder what’s happened to that sap that he turned into such a bitter figure?” and mind your own business— continuing on with your fabulous life. Mentally tear up the note– or in the case of these folks, physically tear it up– and throw it in the trash.