I care about what others think. That’s just it.
I’ve tried not caring, then when that didn’t work out I tried the complete opposite–caring too much. Both failed. Miserably. And in the meantime made me feel miserable.
I should’ve know both of these extremes were not going to help me reach a place of “soul-solace”. I kind of live by this quote a professor of mine stated often, very often: all extremes are dysfunctional.
(Perhaps my professor meant this to be taken in a particular context, but I think he would smile at this interpretation).
This epiphany of middle ground, third way, gray area smacked me in the face today during a small talent show my school was having. Now, I take performance very seriously, even if it’s a group of adorable, motor skill-challenged kindergartners: it needs to be stellar!
So as my students were heading up to the front and I’m getting in my place as their mirror to watch for dance cues, one of my American coworkers taunts, “Why do you look like a stressed parent?” or something along the lines of that. I’m instantly hit with panic because in that moment I realize how insane I looked.
Here’s when the two choices loom over me, both pulling for my attention: “Care about what they think. Deeply. You, after all, work with them. No one is going to be your friend now, weirdo.” The other makes it case, “Kami, you don’t need them. Who cares what they think. Just stick to your students. You already have friends, you don’t need them.”
But both of these arguments are not convincing: I don’t want to be stoic and I also don’t want to be spineless. There is a middle ground, there is a third way, there is a gray area that I can drape over myself.
I’m not entirely sure how that looks like yet, but I believe this space does exist.
I choose TO care about what others think, but I also choose how their thoughts will affect me. Caring makes me soft, and now sifting and sorting through each care will make me soft and strong.