Until very recently, I only ran during the day. Why? Because there are fewer people home during the day, and thus fewer people to see me huffing and puffing and bouncing down the street (really, it’s not pretty.) But the other day I found myself jogging down the street at four o’clock in the afternoon. And do you know what? Nothing bad happened.
I live my whole life online. Well, almost my whole life. Between my travel blog and this blog and Facebook and Twitter and the variety of forums I participate in, Google me and you shall find darn near everything about me. Strangers can know almost as much about me as do my friends, and my friends are free to read all about my life–if for some strange reason they care about the minute details I choose to share. And, up until recently, despite the fact that I openly share all of these things, I still cared about what people thought. I cared a lot.
When I first told people I’d be taking this year off, I cared about how they reacted. And, of course, the reactions were quite varied, ranging from sincere congratulations to doubtful and insincere ‘good-luck-wishes’ (Can you hear the tone? Good luck!) And now that I’m in the midst of book-writing and life-finding and travel-planning, I’ve been having some very serious concerns about what other people think. Do others think that I’m wasting time? That I’m wasting money? That I’m being irresponsible? That I’m not getting enough done? That last one was a big one, to the point where it frequently became a crippling fear (which, really, is quite ironic.) I’ve even gone so far as to really care about losing weight, because I feel as though my outward appearance needs to change to ‘show the world’ that I’m making some sort of progress, even if it is only in the realm of health and fitness.
But what I realized the other day, out running for all the world to see, is that there are really only two kinds of people that could possibly be watching me: those that run and those that don’t. People who do run were all beginners at one time or another, and so they understand what I’m going through. They see a girl huffing and puffing up the hill and should remember their own humble beginnings. So I can’t care about those people. Those people understand. And people who don’t run–well hell, at least I’m trying. What are they doing? So I can’t care about those people, either.
And so, the moral of the story is–I’ve decided to stop caring what other people think. I’m going to keep running–and writing and traveling–and maybe I’ll never get very good at any of those things. But I’ll have a better chance at improvement if I don’t waste my energy caring about the judgement of others.