The Fear of Not Being Liked

"Don't care what people think", they say. "Dance like no one is watching". "Sing like no one is listening". You've heard it all before. Easier said than done. People ARE watching, is all you can think.

Have you ever gone to the middle of a dance floor and really danced like you would in the intimate safety of your living room? Skipping from side to side, arms flailing, grinding the air or spinning in circles - whatever your signature move. There are two times I can think of that this has happened to me and in both instances I had something "helpful" in my system to let me not care about the people staring - I've never done this sober. In fact, I've always felt caught in an awful, fake, trapped situation when I was being the "DD" on the dance floor. Trying not to make eye contact with people, awkwardly doing a non-offensive side to side step to a song you vaguely know.

And you know what?

I LOVE DANCING!!! I could take a dance or skating class for hours and not get bored. How stupid is that?! That I can't share my love and energy with friends and strangers because of what I believe about social norms. (Though I should admit that I've loosened up a bit about dancing in social settings and I do have fun doing it, but there is still the awkward air about it.)

My point with this all is... we care what people think - even if we know we shouldn't. We don't want to be ostracized, kicked out of the tribe and left to die alone... oh wait, we don't live in tribes anymore - but that's where it comes from.

I actually thought I was pretty good at not caring what people think. Being able to share my thoughts and opinions with people confidently. But, as it turns out, I was just being crafty. This came to me in an insight in my coaching session today.. I am confident to not care what people think because I already know they will like what I'm going to say, so there is no need to worry about it. I've been catering to the group of people I am with. Don't rock the boat. Hear all sides and come up with a solution that works for the group. I've always held my tongue in those true moments of controversy. I thought I was very agreeably, able to be friends with anyone - but a lot of that is because I avoided pissing anyone off.

I'm going to work on that. Showing up as me, whoever I'm with, and not being afraid to voice my true feelings. Look out world - hope I don't piss you off too much ;) It's going to be hard work. I work with so many groups between skating and my day job that it will be easy to test this out. I'll need to check in regularly (probably daily) and ask myself how I showed up with each set of people today. Between toddlers, kids, preteens, university students, and adults I have a range of viewpoints to try this out on. Reflecting back on it, I definitely have been showing up differently with the groups closer to my age - wanting to fit in more. I suspect my peers will be the hardest group to show up unapologetic-ally with.

It will be interesting... I'll let you know how it goes.