Has anyone ever told you that you shouldn’t care what people think? You know they’re right: you shouldn’t care so much what other people think of you.
Except you do. You do care. You want to be a good person, and you want to be seen as a good person, and that’s only natural, right? So how do you stop caring so hard?
This is what I’ve learned by playing in a particularly tricky sandpit.
This “influencer” thing has been the weirdest two years of my life. I’ve been involved in the historical costuming community for 18 years now, and I’ve been visible with a business in this space for 14 of those years. But this YouTube thing is a whole new landscape.
Young people grow up wanting to be YouTubers nowadays, but when I was a kid, we wanted to be rock stars or TV stars. That’s actually a good analogy for what it feels like.
You can stand in the audience at a rock concert and imagine how amazing it would feel to be on that stage, hearing thousands of people singing along to a song YOU wrote… but in reality, when you actually walk out onto that stage yourself, it’s a pretty vulnerable feeling. Everyone is looking at you, and no matter what you do or don’t do, everyone has an opinion about you.
In fact, thousands of people you will never meet develop remarkably strong opinions about you – both outlandishly positive and viciously negative. Caught in the middle of this circus, you’re still the same silly, cute, fallible, stupid, beautiful little human being you always were. You just recorded some songs or some videos, and now you’re lost in a sea of other people’s opinions. Opinions about your work, and opinions about YOU.
It’s not an easy road, and I’ll admit that I’ve lost a little sleep here and there. So how do I deal with it, and how can you deal with it when you care too much what other people think?
I have a really strong support network of wise people around me. I have people who truly know me in all my flawed humanity and love me anyway; people with whom I feel safe, and people who will be honest with me. People whose feedback, positive or negative, I can trust.
“Know who you are,” says my friend Dr Tom Garcia, who is perhaps the most authentic person I’ve ever known. He’s a spiritual teacher who conducts sacred fire ceremonies out on the land in Colorado. He couldn’t be more down to earth. “Stay connected to your Source,” he says, “and affirm: I am who I am.”
Funny he should say that, because it’s very similar to what another teacher tells me. Remember last month when I talked about “Inner Authority” in a video? Psychologist Dr Julie Helmrich is continually telling me to call on my Inner Authority: Know who you are. Stand in your truth.
It’s the same message. When all around you is madness, go within. Know who you are. Build a support network you can trust, listen to them and to your own wisdom, and then speak clearly with your own voice. (Still working on that last part.)
You’ve got this.
Love, Cathy x
Thank you so much for this! I’m an author with a new novel coming out and if I’m lucky, I’ll be in a similar position to you in time. But I’m also someone with PTSD who is constantly seeking approval and validation. This post is tremendously helpful, and you’re a genuine gift 🙂
That’s great! You are incredibly brave and I hope all goes well!
Thank you so much! I’m optimistic about the whole thing, but it’s definitely helpful to have people like Cathy to remind me not to be so unnecessarily vulnerable to the opinions of complete strangers. And any and all encouragement is deeply appreciated 🙂
The number of “me”s over the years has grown and changed over the eons. I have even given some of them names, just for grins.
Having you anx Bernadette to look to for inspiration is great. Thank you.
Really good advice! Thanks!
If chance ever brings you back to Colorado/New Mexico….
Imagine you build some castles in a sandpit. Your castle is damageable. Anyone can destroy it in a second. Since you’ve paid your attention to the fact, do you have to leave it all just because of that? You start: “Should I spend any time on any damageable thing if I shall never be able to save it for long?” Why do you want it spend the rest of your life keeping the castle safe? Is the sandcastle matter? When did it start to be so important? You wanted to have fun and instead you come up with suffering. If you stop for a while and see yourself creating a new idea with the proper castle made from sand you can catch the firefly of your admiration on yourself. This is where you have to freeze your image. If you don’t, you will make hell out of the firefly. It’s a sin of course. Try not to save the sand with a shape. Try to freeze your own image with it: you changed ‘The author’ into ‘I am’ and you ARE the first person who knew it. This is experience.
Beautifully said by someone I know to be beautiful inside. Thumbs up, Cathy.
Much needed today!
It must be a real challenge to get “known” by so many people. I know, that I dont know you, but I love your videos and the things you say.
When I was younger I cared a lot about what people would think about me and surely made some wrong decisions, for them, against myself. But life isn’t over and slowly it feels much better. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Also we should all remember that we can’t spend all our time trying to change those snap opinions. They have formed those opinions without our involvement and so it falls to them to change them, we can’t change their opinions for them. All we can do is show them who we are.
Thank you so much for this wonderful article Ms. Hay. You help by empathizing and connecting while also giving ways to navigate through the tough stuff so thank you.
Cathy, your words of self-care and recognition resonate within me. I am a very sensitive person. Along with being extremely empathetic, I am also a people please by nature and it has taken me the better part of my adult life to learn to self-advocate and set personal boundaries. Since I started following you, I have come to realize that this is an ongoing struggle for many other such people and that it is okay to say no! Watching how you use yourself as a barometer of growth, and how what you show to the world illustrates your inner struggles and triumphs, has shown me how to give myself permission to have grace. Thank you for all that you share, and being willing to allow us all into a slice of your life.
I’ve read in many an article in, I’ll admit, a magazine that promotes mindfulness/selfcare/voyages of discovery, that you get what you need and not (think) what you want in life at the time you need it most.
This letter has come at a time that a relationship I have been in for almost half my life, has, I think, finally ended after it has been simmering and fizzling out for over a year now. I’ve moved to my own place, tiny it may be, and not sure about whether I should go back to the familiar or try to find my way alone.
I see your letter as the universe (whatever that may actually be) telling me that I’ll be okay, doing this on my own.
So thank you. I don’t know what my true truth means in what in the blazes I should DO with my life, job/house/general occupation-wise, but I’ll figure it out in time. And the people I need around me, will come and help me find my place in the world. The place where I actually should end up, not where people who comment willy-nilly (and without me asking for their opinions, say I should end up.
You have everything you need to figure it out. I’m not in exactly the same situation as you, but I can relate in a way.
Story time (feel free to ignore if that doesn’t help you):
I recently found out that the house I’ve shared with friends for the last 11 years – most of my adult life – is being sold in the new year and that they will be giving us formal notice to leave. I’m the only person that the landlord calls about House Things, so she told me and asked me to tell my friends. I must say that while she was pretty nice about it (she is a decent person) and I had been planning to move out in the next while anyway I got really upset once the news sank in.
I told some friends and asked them whether it was even reasonable to be so upset about the tenancy ending when I already was planning to go, and one told me that it’s OK to grieve something that meant a lot to you, even if it no longer serves you well, and you’ll figure out the best thing for you now. I think that advice really applies to your situation. You’ll work it out.
Thank you! It’s a real thing knowing who you are! In the core somewhere I know so clearly who I am but then it gets clouded over by projection of what I think they think…
Getting better but having ad(h)d
And not believing in the word hobby and wanting to do it all, always makes for hilly rides
But dreaming big and walking outside trodden paths, I have no worry, I am there, I will be there!
I often come back to the idea that serving is not the same as being liked. So long as I remain true to my purpose—call on my inner authority I suppose you’d say—I can weather the disapproval or misunderstanding of some. A platform and audience like yours would be a whole different ballgame, though—well done for carrying on and helping so many!
You know I really resonated with this. Serving is not the same as being liked. I have always worried about what other people think. Always been a people pleaser. Always tried to make people happy. I am finally getting to the point where I finally understand that the only person’s happiness I am ultimately responsible for is my own. I can serve and do my best. But unfortunately I will never make everybody happy.I am learning that as long as I please God and myself, there’s nothing else I can really do. Just try my best to be the kind of person I truly want to be.
Thank you, for sharing your realizations with us. Both your projects and posts, have really helped me understand how to be myself and love sewing, even as a struggling begginer.
This is a really good reminder for the days where you feel like a terrible person!
From what I’ve learned from watching your YouTube contribution to the rest of us and your words expressing honesty and kindness towards oneself and others, I can feel that this journey with you will grow kindness and love in my heart and soul.
Thank you, I needed to read this today.
Thank you Cathy. As I embark on a journey through a similar (but different than yours) path I realize that the thing putting governors on the process is exactly this fear. I needed to hear you.
I agree with you Cathy, on most things. This is one of them. I have found that taking time at the beginning of the day and at the ending of wakefulness helps me stay clear-minded. It took time for me to learn the benefit of forgiveness because I emerged from a line of strong and unyielding women who held on to rage and vengeance. Some people call it closure, some people say both are different. I’ve come to believe both are essential to becoming one’s own self, instead of a bobbing bottle taken where ever the tides and storms of time force them. Both are perhaps more like a door to a secret garden. I think forgiveness is more like the lock where one works through their own part of the entirety of the event when turning the key in the door. As the door opens, the closure begins. But a cage is still a cage even if it is called the secret garden. It is the key that allows us freedom. For myself, that realization made me stronger in myself. I try to keep an even balance by this little morning & evening habit that seems to work for me.
I recently went through my first negative, accusing set of comments from someone I don’t know. I was so angry and upset. Someone I didn’t even know made assumptions about me and it left me so furious.
I found a very old vintage sewing machine in a hedge in December 2019. It was a rusted little thing, but I was curious. To cut a very long journey short, with lots of research and trial and error, I restored that little machine and brought it back to life. It opened up the floodgates to restoring other vintage machines destined for landfill.
Then, 7 machines and two treadles later and lockdown, I taught myself to sew on them.
It’s been a wonderful journey and I found a community of vintage machine owners through Facebook. A group of us decided to meet one day on zoom and it sparked a separate community of Zoomie Singers.
One day it was suggested I do a video of something’s I was talking about and it sparked a YouTube channel. People found them very helpful. A visual aid for a small community on how to use all those funny wosit gadget contraption attachments like the Ruffler and the Tuck Marker.
It felt so nice to help people. Ok I don’t know much about YouTube, I certainly don’t know how to edit videos and most of mine are full of bloopers and me giggling and bumbling. I called it Sewy Thingy, because it was a bit sewy and a bit thingy.
I started to let people in the wider vintage sewing community know that I had made some videos to help people and then it happened. I was accused of just promoting my YouTube channel. What??? It’s not about that, it never was. I’m not a YouTube star, I’m not out to make a profit, I did them to help people, to explain things in a simple easy to follow way.
It was such a shock someone could accuse me like that.
I haven’t done another video since and I was just going to kill the account.
But… Your blog has just given me the virtual “pull yourself together Sam, shake it off”, that I needed to hear.
Came for the sewing, stayed for the wisdom.
Thanks for this wisdom and this inspiring message.
Reading this article made me realize that I, too, am guilty of snap opinions on public people. Why is it that we don ‘t have normal empathy for some people ? Is it that we don’t really know them or because they put themselves out there? I think it’s a bit of both.
We tend to judge their content, and since that is all we know of them, it is how we judge them as a person. I feel like this would not happen to a person we know more intimately, someone whose imperfections we are familiar with and accepting of.
Food for thought…