Minding Your Own Business

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.

Published by Margaret Dilloway

Middle grade and women's fiction novelist. FIVE THINGS ABOUT AVA ANDREWS, (Balzer + Bray 2020); SUMMER OF A THOUSAND PIES. MOMOTARO: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Disney Hyperion); TALE OF THE WARRIOR GEISHA and SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, out now from Putnam Books. HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE was a finalist for the John Gardner fiction award. THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS is the 2013 Literary Tastes Best Women's Fiction Pick for the American Library Association. Mother of three children, wife to one, slave to a cat, and caretaker of the best overgrown teddy bear on Earth, Gatsby the Goldendoodle.

2 thoughts on “Minding Your Own Business

  1. Hello Margaret. Just wanted you to know that I, for one, agree with what you say 100%, and am not surprised that one of my favorite authors has the guts and the volition to write it. Incidentally, I, too, was mother to 3 children, one now deceased (I am 83), and enslaved to not one but two cats, who know they are in charge in my home. My son lives in Tokyo and is married to a Japanese woman, but he speaks and translates Japanese better than his wife does, and has lived in Japan for 35 years. I hope I can find “Tale of the Warrior Geisha” and “Sisters of the Heart and Snow” somewhere, because Margaret Dilloway is one of my all time favorite authors. Off to Amazon………

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