Once, when I was trying to fall asleep, my ex asked me, “Do you think people think you’re a good person or a bad person?” And I replied, “I don’t think people think about me.” He thought that was sad. I felt that it was factual.
Why do we spend so much time wondering what people think of us? The truth is people aren’t thinking about you nearly as much as you think they are. They’re not watching you workout at the gym; they’re watching themselves in the mirror. They’re not watching what you put in your cart at the grocery store or what you ordered at the restaurant; they’re worried someone else is looking at what’s in their cart or on their plate.
We spend our formative years in a microcosm of psychopathy known as public school, where beasts without fully functioning brains outnumber their teachers in a national average of 15 to 1. These merciless brutes DO, in fact, spend way too much time watching other people and making sure those outside their sphere know they are NOT acceptable. We call this bullying and we don’t take it nearly as seriously as we should. This 12 year scenario sets us up to worry about what other people are thinking of us. We want all the Regina George’s of the world to either like us or have no idea we exist.
Some of us are also lucky enough to be blessed with childhood trauma that leaves us teetering on the brink. Judgmental family members help strengthen the connections between neurons firing to tell us everyone is looking at us and laughing/judging/thinking ill. Every move we made was criticized and so we view ourselves through that critical lens. We have to hide our giant, glaring flaws that flash like neon signs above our heads so no one will know we are human and criticize our humanity.
Isn’t the society we’ve built for ourselves fun? We’ve done a stellar job of creating an environment that prioritizes health.
So yeah, I get it. You think everyone is watching you. You think people are thinking about you in their off time. I promise, they’re not. They’re thinking about themselves.
Of course, I’m probably wildly off about this. Because I think about people all the time. But I just can’t imagine a world where anyone is thinking about me in their off time. How boring. Think about something more interesting, weirdo.