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Letting Go of What Other People Think

Letting Go of What Other People Think

From the Velveteen Rabbit, on becoming Real:
“'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”
― Margery Williams Bianco


“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”
― Carl Gustav Jung


Dear Rose People,

Stepping onto the paths of our true desires can bring uncertainty and apprehension. These feelings can be amplified when one thinks of potential regrets, errors, or the unforeseen consequences our choices might spawn. Add to this the weight of social expectations, which from an early age subtly (or not so subtly) nudge us toward certain "accepted paths." Straying can invite judgment, criticism, or even ostracization. 

Navigating OPO (other people's opinions!) becomes exponentially challenging when we're contemplating big changes in our lives, such as shifting religious beliefs, ending or beginning relationships, switching careers, or even making choices that defy norms tied to our gender, status, or education. 

Big decisions can attract more scrutiny, and the many voices offering advice or critique can be overwhelming. People find comfort in convention, and when someone breaks from that mold, it often stirs unease.  Even here, the principle remains the same: trust your path and understand that not all opinions hold equal weight. 

It's normal to have the question: "What will people say?" …. but really, everyone seems to have an opinion - if you have ever read the comments on a popular web post, you know that people will always have something to say, and often contradict each other. It's simply human nature. Sometimes, opinions are just reflections of others fears and insecurities, not necessarily rooted in concern for you. We can distinguish between constructive feedback and background noise.

When you find yourself mulling over a comment or critique, consider its source. Is it coming from someone with genuine goodwill for you? Do they possess the expertise or insight to make such a judgment? If a remark feels true and constructive, take a moment to reflect on it. If it feels misplaced, let it go. This is not about disregarding everyone's views. It's about discerning which opinions truly matter and which are best left untouched. Trust in your inner compass.

There are other reasons it can be tough to follow one’s heart: financial constraints can tie us down, especially when we yearn for something that may not promise immediate financial stability. Think of the artist who hesitates to pursue their passion full time for fear of not making ends meet.

Personal responsibilities, such as caring for a family or addressing debts, can anchor us, preventing the free pursuit of our passions. Then there's the internal tussle between the analytical mind, which may caution against risks, and the heart, which often champions them. Our past, too, casts long shadows; previous traumas or failures can make it challenging to heed our heart's call in the present. 

And, of course, the heart itself can be a mystery. Is it presenting a genuine, enduring desire or just a fleeting infatuation?

Yet, for all its complexities, listening to our heart has its unique rewards. When we align our actions with our authentic selves, it leads to a life imbued with satisfaction and fewer regrets. All of the greats have done this. Furthermore, by being true to ourselves, we're more likely to foster genuine relationships based on real values. And, there's an unparalleled inner peace in knowing you've been true to yourself. 

If ever you feel overwhelmed or lost in making a big change, remember you've likely got a circle of friends and loved ones who believe in you, and who will always be there to support, to listen, and to remind you of the incredible strength you possess. And if you don’t have that, know that there are others out there who have made similar journeys and are there on the other side, waiting for you. These people would gladly help, if you put out the call. 

Following one's heart is often romanticized; actually doing it can be more complex than it appears on the surface- but still, we must, or we risk an inauthentic life. While listening to the heart isn’t a straightforward path, it promises a life of authenticity. It's about being true to oneself, about personal fulfillment, growth, and the unmatched peace that comes from knowing you've done right by yourself.

Embrace your journey, friend. Trust in yourself, and let the noise of the world fade into the background. 

Cheering for you, always.