I know a lot of times I talk about facts and interesting things about how to improve mental health or about how the brain works. But today, I want to talk about something a little bit more on a behavioral or a psychological level. Growing up, I used to worry so much about what other people thought of me. I was always worried that they thought I was weird because I struggled with anxiety and depression. In a lot of cases, people didn't understand very well. One of the most important things to remember is that just because they don't understand doesn't mean it's not a real thing. You know it is. It's okay for you to have difficulty, to have struggled. Everybody does. Not everybody struggles in the same way, but everybody struggles. So at least you can relate to other people in that way.
I remember for me, I was always worried about how many friends I had when I was in junior high and high school, because it's all about popularity, right? It's all about the number of people you associate with. I relate some of this in my story. I remember certain times in high school where I had a friend group, and that friend group kind of fell apart a little bit. This happened a couple of times during sophomore and junior year. people got involved in doing different things, and they weren't all the same things. This created a lot of stress for me. In a lot of ways, I thought maybe it was my fault. My friend groups were not sticking together very well, and I stressed over it, and I worried about it so much. I thought, you know, maybe I was spending too much time with certain individuals and neglecting everybody else. Really what it came down to was there was this point where I just kind of felt like I didn't have anybody because my old friend group was off doing other things. My new friend group wasn't very happy with me.
I remember times in high school sitting at lunch by myself. I think maybe I freaked out a little too much about that. I still had people to chat with, but often spent that time alone. I was afraid that lessened my value because I didn't have this constant social gathering around me. It made me feel that I wasn't worth as much. That's just not the case. Our value comes from within us. It doesn't come from what's around us. That's something that I learned, and it was a difficult lesson for me to learn. You know, it's not so much about what everybody can give us, but more of what we can give the world. It's about what we have to offer up inside.
A lot of things I didn't learn until later in life that I was good at. I didn't know all my skills and talents in high school. There are things that I enjoy now, like playing the guitar and painting. Stuff that I never would have done back then, that I know now I can do. Those are things that are a talent of mine that I can help other people with. Those things give you a sense of security, a sense of understanding who you are. And sometimes it takes going through these super difficult challenges in life, such as, having to find a whole new group of friends. I've had to do it several times since that big fall apart happened in high school, and it's just kind of the way life goes. My parents would tell me, hey, this is the natural thing. Back then, it just felt so important and so vital that I have a million friends. These days I don't think so anymore. It's freeing when you don't constantly worry about everyone else's thoughts and opinions about you. It’s freeing to remember that a lot of times they're not even thinking about you. They're in their own little world learning about their own little things. It's been so liberating in my young adult life to learn this lesson, to know that it doesn't really matter what other people think, that what matters is what you do, who you are inside. That's what really matters.
We spend so much time and effort in our lives caring about everyone around us thinks. It can become so emotionally exhausting trying to rectify yourself with the opinions of others. This is my experience learning how to let go of how other people think of me. That's not to say that you shouldn't be kind and take input from others but don't ever let that define who YOU are.