We were sipping from a cappuccino in the art deco café in the museum.
We were chatting about all the small + big things in life.
My favorite kind of conversation.
And as was taking in my surroundings, I started musing about what a great place the museum would be for events + summer-style, jazzy cocktail parties.
That’s when my friend said – hey, did you guys notice the lady in red? All dressed up + chic?
And we all went – lady in red?! No, we didn’t see her.
Turns out my friend was the only one who had noticed the lady in red as we were strolling through the museum.
And that observation started a conversation about being outspoken + our willingness to be visible and seen.
But also about how we tend to think that WE are the center of everybody’s attention whenever we do something or say something.
But the truth is – most people don’t even notice us.
Or they notice us without giving us any of their REAL attention.
Because the truth is – we are all busy in life, looking at + engaging with different things.
Like paintings in a museum.
Or chatting away with a friend.
But there’s also all the things we’ve got going on in our own lives that keep us preoccupied.
Our todos + things we really really need to get done.
Our worries about that presentation we still need to finish up.
That difficult conversation at work that we dread.
And so, even though it might seem to us as if we are walking around with a big spotlight hovering over us, so that everyone will notice us, in truth, most people don’t pay that much attention.
Sure, there will be people that will notice us.
But not as many as we think.
And they will not all be judging us as harshly as we think.
Just like my friend noticed the lady in red.
And thought of her as sophisticated and chic.
Yet what we are doing – the ones thinking that we walk around with a spotlight hovering over us, so that everyone will notice us and judge us – WE are putting a spotlight on the people around us.
WE are putting a spotlight on the ones who are judging us.
Or the ones we THINK might be judging us.
So that they are the only ones who grab our attention.
So that they become the only thing we see.
So that their opinion about us – real or assumed – is what we start ruminating about.
So that their opinion – real or assumed – becomes a guideline for what we should or shouldn’t do.
So that their opinion – real or assumed – becomes a guideline for what we can or can’t do, say, wear.
We want to have them ONLY think GOOD things about us.
And so we start avoiding things THEY MIGHT start labeling as wrong, crazy, stupid, ridiculous, too flamboyant, too loud, too direct, not done.
But the truth is – most people don’t notice us.
And the few people that do, simply have their opinion about us – good or bad.
Their opinion is NOT driven by who we are, what we say, what we do or what we wear.
Their opinion is driven by THEIR OPINION about what they see, hear, notice.
Their opinion is driven by THEIR EXPECTATIONS about what we – or anyone else for that matter – should do, say, wear.
It’s driven by THEIR VIEW of the world, their beliefs, style and preferences.
By putting the spotlight on the ones with the negative opinions about us – real or assumed – we put ourselves in the dark.
Dimming what we’ve got to say.
Toning down what we want to wear.
Self-censoring what we want to do.
Hiding what we really want to do, what we really want to say, what we really want to wear.
Hiding who we truly are.
Hiding what we are truly capable of.
And by putting the spotlight on the ones with the negative opinions about us – real or assumed – we are blinding ourselves for all the people around us who ARE inspired by what we do.
Who LOVE what we wear.
Who are THRILLED to have a conversation with us and hear what we really think.
And by putting the spotlight on the ones with the negative opinions about us – real or assumed – it seems to us as if the world – our world – is CROWDED with people who criticize us.
NOT because it is.
But because we narrowed our world down to the ones who are or might be.
Only focusing on them + only focusing on what they are or might be thinking about us.
Blackening out all the rest.
The answer is NOT to change yourself so they will say and think only good things about you.
The answer is to TURN OFF that spotlight.
So you get to see all the people around you.
So you get to see that most people don’t even pay that much attention.
So you get to see the ones who are neutral, ok, fine, excited, inspired by what they see you do, say, wear.
So you get to see yourself again.
The real, uncensored, high energy, vivacious, playful, talented, creative, resourceful, smart, whimsical, excited you.
So you get to show yourself + the world what you really want to do.
What you really want to say.
What you really want to wear.
So you get to show yourself + the world what you’re truly capable of.
And that’s priceless.
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