One thing I’ve loved about entering my 30s is that I care less and less about what others think of me. Once I am not hurting or endangering myself, anyone or anything else, I do as I wish if it makes me happy. But this was not always my story! When I was younger, I constantly suffered from a pain in my tummy. The doctor, thinking it was physical, looked at my diet and suggested some changes, but to no avail. After questioning me a bit more, she realised that it was psychological. As a child, I was a perfectionist (today I am proud to call myself a reformed perfectionist!), so every day, I felt so incredibly stressed and anxious about making mistakes that it was causing my tummy to be in a constant knot. In primary school when my teacher would go around asking each of us questions in public, I would be so nervous not only for my turn, but for all my friends’ turns too! “What if they don’t get the question right??? What if they pause too long and the teacher gets angry?? What if they get in trouble at lunchtime???” I think my Mam must have sat down with me and explained to be that it is ok to be wrong sometimes, so that there was no need to be so afraid.
As a teenager, I was definitely worried about what my peers (especially guys; I think attending an all-girls’ school may have been partly to blame for that one!) thought of me and was intent on making sure everyone liked me… To the point of being afraid to be myself and often blushing and clamming up when new people were around… If I heard that someone was talking about me behind my back, I’d wrack my brain trying to remember what I’d done to deserve it. I can’t believe how much of my time and and peace of mind I must have wasted worrying about negative people who I probably wouldn’t even want to have been friends with, to be honest.
In my 20s, I was definitely starting to care less about what others thought of me and focused on making myself happy. However, I was still very fixated on my weight and my physical appearance. I went from one extreme to the other. While I was doing my PGCE (and NQT year, come to think of it), I was so busy and stressed that I would do exactly what my friend Ciara describes as “eating my feelings.” I had moved to the UK. was feeling lonely and overwhelmed, so I used food to make me feel better, which caused me to gain quite a bit of weight. Then when I moved to Qatar, I made a conscious decision to become healthier and lost weight, which I needed to do as I was overweight. However, I became a bit too obsessive about it, exercising a lot and eating a litte. I was still basing too much on how I looked and if things didn’t go my way romantically, I would blame it on not being thin enough. When I look back now, I can see that I was still very insecure in ways and worried about how others perceived me physically.
Now in my 30s, I am heavier than I was in my 20s yet I feel the happiest I have ever been. I am so grateful for my amazingly supportive family & friends in Ireland, UK, Canada, Qatar, and the UAE. I no longer base my worth on what others think of me. I can laugh it off when a minority try to criticise me or bring me down with catty comments about how I look, what I do, and what I believe in. Insecurity and unhappiness makes relatively normal people do mean things. Most importantly, I never take my Dubai dating disasters personally! I realise that it is a sad aspect of the expat dating scene here and not a reflection of me, my personality, or my standards of how I expect to be treated. 95% of the time, I feel fabulously confident and empowered, but we all have our down days. When I am feeling a little shaky in my self-belief, I pick up my copy of, “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k: The bestselling book everyone is talking about (A No F*cks Given Guide)” by Sarah Knight. The full title of the book also includes, “How to stop spending time you don’t have doing things you don’t want to do with people you don’t like,” and this is exactly why I love this book! It explains why we should stop giving a f**k about what others think of us and then lists practical and polite strategies to do exactly that at home with family, socially with friends and at work with colleagues and our boss.
✔️ Once we stop worrying about what we weigh
✔️ Once we stop comparing ourselves to our peers
✔️ Once we stop caring how we look on the dancefloor (if you’ve ever seen me on a night club dancefloor on a Friday night, you’d definitely realise that I clearly don’t care! 😂)
✔️ Once we stop valuing how others judge us
✔️ Once we realise that our time is precious and should only be spent on those who support and love us
✔️ Once we realise that we are enough
✔️ Once we realise that it is only ourselves who can make us truly happy. Like one of my most inspirational friends, Aoife, always reminds me, “You are JOY!”
I highly recommend this book, as it presents a serious message and wonderful advice in a hilarious and memorable way. I have an Amazon affiliate link to this fantastic book, so if you want it and buy it on this link, I will get a small affiliate commission, which helps to fund the running costs of this website and costs you absolutely nothing!
What books do you recommend to boost our confidence and happiness? Please let us know in the Comments below!