The fear of “what will people say” is the greatest dream killer in the history of humanity. For how long will you continue to worry about what others think?
When you eat, do you wait for people to confirm on your behalf that you are already filled? Of course not, you depend on your stomach to give you the approval that you are filled. Why? because you own your stomach and only you can truly confirm if you are satisfied or not. Likewise, you own your goal. You own your vision and you own your destiny. So stop denying yourself the opportunity to live your life according to your own terms just because of other people’s opinion. Don’t fail yourself!
Enough of worrying about other people’s opinion
You don’t have to seek for approval for what you believe in because you are the owner of the vision about your life; you can see it clearly but they can’t see what you see. Therefore, why let the blind to lead you while you have your eyes wide open?
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Fear of what people will say: How it affected me
I was still a student when I was about to start my career as a life coach. I wrote several articles, quotes, and poems, but I kept them all to myself. Why? The only reason was that I thought it wasn’t good enough. I felt like there was a standard, and my work isn’t up to that standard. The fear of what will people say about my work made me hide them in darkness. I didn’t seem to find enough courage to express my creativity, my thought, and my talent. Though, I kept on writing, despite the fact that it ends up in my room.
What was my fear then?
I was always afraid of criticism, I was afraid of failure, and I was afraid of rejection so I felt I my work wasn’t good enough. Since I already felt like my work wasn’t good enough, I decided to study the works of well-known people whose quotes and words resounds in our memory. Perhaps, if they were the standard, I will just have to see what they do and imitate them. I tried to imitate them, but deep down within me, it felt like something isn’t right.
I noticed that anytime I write something that expresses my creativity, I am always proud of myself, and there is a feeling of happiness that overwhelms me. But whenever I decide to write something that isn’t original and unique to my personality (imitate others), I feel empty. Ok, I told myself that copying people isn’t working for me, so I went back to expressing my originality but still kept on hiding my work.
What changed me?
One day, I was thinking aloud. I compared my work with others and I concluded that I was going to stick to my style. I said to myself “this is me doing my thing.” So, I came to the realization that I should embrace my creativity and this made me to stop comparing my work with others. And I made up my mind to “just do me.”
As a result of my decision, I posted my first work on social media, even though I was extremely afraid. I felt happy and surprised when I got positive responses from people. You know, I felt on top of the world. All the compliments fueled my self-pride and built my confidence to show more of my work. I was happy that I didn’t get negative criticism. It made me eager to write more. For months, this continued and I became used to the compliments I get from people all the time.
I went down the rabbit hole
After some months, I noticed that the likes I get on my posts on social media were dropping. The urge to seek validation from others sent me down the rabbit hole. I started feeling sad, and unworthy. The sad feeling took me to a worse state of mind as I started focusing on how I would increase the number of likes I get on my post on social media.
Again, I was concerned about what will people say when they see that my likes were dropping. I became consumed with the thought of getting likes on social media, and I lost focus on writing quality content to motivate and inspire someone out there. All because of fear of what will people say, I lost my purpose, my vision, my dream and my goal for showcasing my work .
My turning point
One day, I was thinking aloud again. Yeah, I have the constant habit of evaluating and assessing myself. I love to talk to myself all the time, and this has helped me realize my inner truth and also helps to bring out the best in me because when I am alone, all I could do is to tell myself the bitter truth.
I knew I had to go back to my first love, and I had to resurrect my dream. That dream to motivate and inspire others through my work. So, I compared my work (before and after) and tried to analyze why my likes were dropping. Perhaps, I wasn’t giving out intelligent and inspiring content any more as before. But I realized that the quality of my work was perfectly fine, as a matter of fact, I noticed improvement.
So, I asked myself genuinely “Ayobami, why do you decide to do what you do in the first instance?” My response was that “I do what I do because I want to motivate someone out there and help the person to become better.” Then I told myself the real truth that my purpose and my dream should be all I must focus on. I became determined to never let people’s decision, action, or opinion shift me away from my dream.
Again, I had to remind myself “this is me doing my thing.” And i assured myself that if it is just one person that gets to be inspired by my work, I am Ok with it because that one person could be me. Yeah, my work speaks to me as well. There are times, I go back to read my articles and it motivates me to get my ass back to action.
As long as I love doing what I do, I will continue to do it regardless of what people will say.
You know what, when I took that decision, I later saw that the likes on my post started increasing again, even more than before. But the mental stage I had driven myself into, I couldn’t care less. As long as I am happy and satisfied with my work, nothing else matters. My happiness and fulfillment no longer depends on people’s opinion about me. I don’t need anyone to validate my work, I will validate myself. And as long as I am pleased with my work, nothing else matters. The truth is that I have faced my worse fear (fear of what people will say), and I don’t give a shit about whatever people have to say anymore because their opinion isn’t in charge, I am in charge. I call the shots for my life.
How fear of “what will people will say” affect our daily live
What comes to your mind when you are about to do something? Definitely, you think about how people will react to what you are about to do. You are afraid that people might react negatively to it. They might just cast you down and make you feel useless.
So what happens next? You stop that action towards your goal, you hide your write up, you cancel your drawings, you hold back your words, you delete your contribution, and in all these, you start to lose your self-confidence, your self-expression and your creativity. You can’t boast in your ability; this is because you are full of doubts, and you feel like you are not qualified enough.
Face your Goliath
Your Goliath is the fear of what people will say and you have to face it if you want to be successful in life. If you don’t take actions against your fear of what people will say, that fear is set to kill your dream .
Let me ask you this question: ever since you have been so concerned about what will people say, what have you really achieved? I want you to answer this question sincerely in your heart. And if you claim to have achieved something by pleasing everyone, are you proud of your achievement? Does that achievement makes you feel happy? Or do you feel empty despite your achievement because it feels like you are not living your own life?
The worst feeling anybody can have is to feel like s/he is not up to the required standard. There are no real standards anywhere, every standards set are mirage. You don’t have to force yourself to fit in because you are created uniquely and you have a purpose to fulfil. If you must have a standard, it should be your own standard. So, set one for yourself.
People will always talk
Bear in mind that people will always have something to say. If you do everything to fit in, they would say, you are a confused being without purpose and if you don’t fit in, they would also say that you are useless and don’t deserve anything good. If you are good, you will have followers and if you are bad, you will also have followers as well. The truth is just that you cannot please anyone, so start working on pleasing yourself.
Always know that anything you do, there will always be reactions from people both negative and positive reactions, so your focus should be on what you want to do and let them talk.
If your life is dependent on other people’s opinion, then you are not the one living, but they live in you.
What will people say: why you shouldn’t let it affect you
Apart from the fact that people will always talk, another fact about people is that their opinion is never constant. People’s opinion is not reliable, it changes all the time so it is not a good idea for you to care about their opinion.
I remembered a story: A student collected $40, 000 from his mother for his school fees and he used $10, 000 out of it to gamble. He decided to use part of his school fees to play the game because he believed in the rumour that the deadline for the school fee that was supposed to be in three days time, has been extended to 2 weeks. He thought to himself that before 2 weeks, he will be able to complete his school fee. More so, the result of the bet is said to be out in a week’s time. His conviction was that even if he did not win the game, his aunt (a salary earner), who always gives him a monthly allowance would have collected her salary by then.
He was shocked and confused when the school authority confirms that the extension of school fee payment was just a rumour, the deadline for school fees still stands. He has just one day left to pay his school fees or he will have to face an extra session. The thought of repeating that session was scary to him. He thought of how he will explain his carryover to his struggling mother. How can he ask his mother for extra money, knowing the present condition of the family?
He met with his friends and asked them to borrow him money. He promised to refund it before 2 weeks since his aunt will give him his monthly allowance by then. Instead of his friends to lend him the money, they started abusing him, saying, “He’s so foolish. How could he use his school fees to gamble? He should face the consequence of his action.”
They even spread the news around campus. His story came on the front page of every campus gist news. He became so destabilized. He has to pay his school fees, but it seems there are no means for him. The only means he could think of was stealing, that wasn’t an option for him; he can never steal because of his upbringing and beliefs. The young boy realized that time keeps on ticking. He has a few hours to the school fees deadline. He became so much concern about what will people say again if he end up having a carry over and he couldn’t help feeling worthless.
All hope was gone
The boy felt like all hope was gone; he was able to raise only $6,000. The total amount with him was $36, 000. He needed $4, 000 extra to complete it and he has nowhere else to turn to for help anymore. He stayed in his hostel room crying his life out. The boy thought of what people will say if he had to repeat the session because of $4, 000. He was so sad and felt ashamed. He remembered everything people have been saying about him, and how they treated him so badly for gambling.
The school community has called him all sort of derogatory names. He thought to himself that he would rather commit suicide than face the shame/ disgrace of having a carryover because he couldn’t complete his tuition fee. He just couldn’t face, nor stand what people will say anymore. Yes, they have been talking about him, but their talk will be more intense if he could not pay his school fee.
The turning point
Just when he was contemplating committing suicide, his phone rang and it was his aunt. His aunt told him that her salary was paid a day before. She told him that “everybody at work was surprised that our boss would pay us this early. It was almost unbelievable when he told the accountant to pay us our salary yesterday because our company won a contract and he even instructed that additional 20% should be paid.”
She continued, “Actually, I should have sent you money yesterday too, but I was very busy. Now I am on my way to the bank to send you your monthly allowance. Don’t spend it anyhow simply because you got it earlier than ever before. I don’t know when next my boss is going to pay us for next month salary,” she warned.
The guy was so happy, full of life and felt like screaming. It was like the heavens just smiled at him. He knelt down on his knees to say thank you to God. Less than 30 minutes, he got a bank alert; his aunt also increased his allowance by an additional $1, 000. He rushed to the bank to buy his school fees card and quickly went to the café to log in to the school portal. He wants to avoid any form of mistake since he has less than 2 hours left to school fees payment deadline. So he decided not to use his phone as he usually does for his previous school fees payment.
The light at the end of the tunnel
He logged in to the school portal, input the pin on the card, and waited for a few seconds. His heart heavily breathed, he was afraid, he said to himself “I hope it is going.” Minutes after, a message popped up “your payment was successful. Kindly register your semester course now. Thanks.”
He was extremely happy; it was just as if a heavy load has been lifted off his chest. He ran to his hostel, laid down and thought to himself, “what if my aunt did not send me money, what would have happened?” He would have committed suicide. The boy checked his time, and the time for the school fee payment has passed. And he said, “thank God I am still alive.”
He felt so sad, lonely and broken because people did not help him out, especially his rich friends (YouTube celebrities) who refused to borrow him just $10, 000 but could spend more than $20, 000 at a night club for girlfriends.
Even after he had managed to pay his school fees, every corner he turned to, people still kept pointing fingers at him. Saying, “that’s the foolish guy who used part of his school fees to gamble.”
The life-changing news
Academic work has resumed fully, and he was in his hostel doing his assignment when his phone rang. He looked at the number on it. It’s not a familiar number; he thought to himself, “who could this be?” He picked the call and he was told that he emerged as the winner of the game. “What? Do you mean I’m the winner of the range rover and a sum of $1,000,000?” he asked. He was invited to their head office, for him to claim the price the next day.
The guy called his family members to share the good news with them. They were also very happy though they were shocked to hear that he used part of his school fees to gamble, but who cares to scold him now since he won the game.
The next day, he went there to claim his prize, his family members were there too with him, and it felt like he was dreaming. Different news presenters were calling for his attention in order to interview him. He felt like a superstar; all the national newspaper covered it. He was on the front page of every newspaper in town. He became the talk of the town for weeks as a young millionaire.
People’s opinion changed quickly
When he got back to school with his new Range Rover sport car, and one million dollars in his account, everyone started hailing him and wants to be his friend. All his friends who abandoned him then and called him all sorts of names, came back to associate themselves with him. The same guy who was called a fool on campus was now called the most intelligent student on campus.
The same way all the campus gist news covered him, to insult him then for using his school fees to gamble, they covered him again, but this time they talked about his bravery act and the level of intelligence he possesses as he took a risk to play the game.
This is a true story, and you can see clearly why it is not worth it to base your life on other people’s opinion. Don’t let the fear of ‘what will people say’ hinder you from achieving your goals in life and fulfilling your dreams.
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4 proven ways to overcome fear of what will people say
1. Stop seeking approval from people
What is the essence of me telling you that true life story? I told you that story to buttress the fact that people don’t have a constant opinion. They change with time and situation. With people, ‘right’ can become ‘wrong’ and ‘wrong’ can become ‘right’ as long as it suits their interest at that point in time. Their opinion is not always about what is right or wrong, but what is required and acceptable by their interest at the moment.
People’s opinion is determined by their personal interest and not your own interest. People aren’t even sure of whatever they say or what they want. They say and do whatever they think at any moment, a moment in sync with their interest.
Now let me quickly ask you this question: Will you say that the boy was wrong for gambling with his school fee, or he was wise enough in taking a risk to become a young millionaire? I bet your answer will depend on your interest.
Why live your entire life based on people’s opinion?
Stop seeking approval from people. Do whatever you want to do as long as you are convinced within you that that’s what you want. As long as you know that what you want to do isn’t morally wrong (not a crime), then you should go for it. You should always place your own opinion above other people’s opinion because it is your life, not theirs.
You don’t have to be a slave to what people will say. Don’t let the fear of what people will say to kill your dream.
For goodness sake, stop seeking approval from people. Learn to listen to yourself more; you are constant, they are not. They don’t even know what you truly want, but you do. So, you should feel confident about your opinion and life decisions.
It’s OK if people are full of doubts for you, even your family and friends. You should always know that you are the one with a vision with your life. After all, they can’t see what you see, so follow your intuition and don’t let anything stop you from doing what you want to do in life. Please, don’t make the mistake of letting your dream down just because you fear what people will say.
2. Stop giving a fuck
By now, your new attitude should be: Who cares about what people will say?
Listen to your instinct; that soft inner voice within you. Listen to your heart, your mind, your dream and your ambition. Go for what you want. Just do it! Yes, do what you want. And let them talk, it’s normal, they will always talk. You just make sure to always give them a topic for discussion by doing something with your life and leave the topic for them to analyze.
Take responsibility for your life
After all, it is your life and not theirs. The more you seek acceptance from people before you do a thing, the more time flies before you realize it is impossible to get acceptance from everyone.
Start searching within you for a support system. As a matter of fact, ‘YOU’ are all you need to start pursuing your dream and live it. Believing in yourself is very crucial to your growth and success.
Let me tell you a secret; even if people believe in you, but you seem not to believe in yourself, you will fail in that thing. Though, it is good to surround yourself with the few that believe in you because it helps to boost your morale but, the foundation lies within you.
3. Start to life your live on your own terms
Your belief controls your way of life and summarizes your story. What do you believe in? What story do you want to be written about you? Is it a success story or a defeated story? Don’t rely on people. Care less, if people don’t believe in you, but if they do, it is just extra motivation.
It is you that ought to determine the course of your life because people won’t live your life on your behalf.
You are to live your life according to your own terms and condition. Whatever you want to do, you should do it because that’s what you truly want to do and not because people expect you to do it.
Tell me why you should live your life to the taste of people but to your own distaste? Why you should rely on people’s opinion when you already have yours or can develop yours? Your opinion is what that matters most to your life. Never let people’s opinion be the basis of yours. I am not saying you shouldn’t seek advice. If you need advice on anything that is not clear to you, please always seek advice but know that every advice is to be subjected to your decisions. Stop being concerned about what people will say, so that you can fulfill your destiny.
4. Just do it!
Whatever it is that you want to do in life, just do it. Take out your writings today and publish it, take out your drawings, dust it and exhibit it. Go for that course, play that instrument, participate in that contest, lunch that idea… Yes, Just Do it!
If you are really convinced about that thing, don’t let them discourage you. Have a strong will. Success is not for the weak at heart, but the strong-minded. If you want to be successful, find courage within you and go for whatever you want.
Stop wasting your time, thinking about what will people say instead think about what you are saying about that thing. Develop your self-confidence. Accept yourself; accept both your weakness and your strength. Reassure yourself that you can do it and just do it.
Take pride in yourself and your ability
It doesn’t matter if you fail; it doesn’t matter if people call you a failure. At least, you did what you believed in (that’s a plus for you). Don’t be afraid to fail. A failed attempt has a lesson to offer, so take the lesson and try again. Embrace your failed attempt, learn from it and aim to be successful.
Failure is not defined by the number of times a person failed. It is defined by a person’s refusal to stand up and try again. A wrestler is not declared a winner because his/her opponent has fallen, the wrestler is declared a winner because his/her opponent gave up. Don’t let life defeat you. For every setback, always stand up to take your stand.
It is OK to fail, but it’s never OK to get defeated. Listen to yourself and just do it
The fear of what will people say will keep you from pursuing your dreams and living the life that you want. It doesn’t worth it to be afraid of what people will say because their opinion is not stable and it is fueled by their personal interest, not your own interest.
Do whatever you want to do in life and don’t let other’s opinion about you or about what you do to affect you because it is all about you. It is your life, and only you is licensed to live your life as you pleases. I hope this article helps you find the courage you need to rise above the fear of what will people say.
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Copyright by Ayobami Abiodun