Today during my morning stream I got to talking about something that is very dear to me. It’s about how in today’s day and age there is this one bit of advice that I hear quite frequently that is just absolutely dangerous. It’s the saying,
“Who cares what other people think, just be yourself and do you.”
This is not good advice. And I will explain why.
Human beings judge. Let me qualify that. Human beings make judgments. Let’s qualify that a little bit more. Human beings make judgment calls. In other words, they observe something, that event causes them to think in a certain way, and then they react by making a subsequent decision.
Do you understand? This is how humans (and other animals as well) naturally behave. Unfortunately we live in a society right now where the word “judge” has a different social and religious meaning. This usage can be a big problem. The word often invokes images of people bashing others for being different, or for not having the right beliefs, or etc. And this is truly unfortunate when people judge people in wrong ways, but I personally find that now the word has a new problem. People use it almost a type of catch-all, get out of jail free card.
“I am just going to do whatever the heck I want and if someone has a problem with me then they are just judging.”
Here is the problem. People judge. What I said before about human being was true thousand years ago, it will be true a thousand years in the future (provided we still exist), and it’s true today.
Based on what we see, smell, hear, taste, touch, i.e. our senses, we make decisions. So if you are someone that lives among other humans, as in society, then I highly encourage that you understand this phenomenon of human behavior.
Get it through your head that people will judge you.
Whether they judge you right or wrong, that is truly immaterial. All you need to understand is that they will judge you. So instead of just saying “I don’t care I’m going to do what I want” I recommend learning how to manage judgments.
Welcome to the new game.
And it’s a hard fucking game. People judge others very quickly. Just based on their ethnicity, hairstyle, clothes, facial expression, the car they drive, their height, their gait (the way they walk), what phone they are using, where they live, where they eat, what music they listen to, what words they speak with, etc.
People judge based on everything.
Once you know this, you can start to see what appearances and traits you have that invoke certain reactions. Then you need to sit back and think, is this the image that I want to put it off? It really seems that people are judging me a lot for this.
Now you have to make a choice.
Do you stay in a position where you get judged a lot? Maybe so. Sometimes people judge for the wrong reasons and you standing up for your personality, or trait, or belief, is important because if no one like you does this, nothing in society will ever change.
But maybe your image is foolish. Maybe you aren’t really proving anything but looking ridiculous, or unapproachable to most people and as such you will find a hard time making friends, getting turned down from jobs, etc.
And again, remember everyone I am not condoning quickly judging people. I’m just telling you how it is. You might hate it that people judge you because you look a certain way or you said a certain thing, but that is just how it is.
You cannot so easily change the world. But you can much more easily change yourself.
And that is what this post is about. Your choices for how you present yourself directly influence the judgments that other people cast on you. Now, you will never get this 100% right, but by being smart and planning you can effectively craft your image in such a way that generally gets favorable judgments from people.
Simple things you can do is take regular showers, (for those of you who laugh at this, I have met many people in my life who have not believed in doing this), take care of your basic hygiene, and dress conservatively.
Let me qualify conservatively. I don’t mean anything political by this statement, I mean the word much more literally, such as wearing clothes that don’t invoke a hyperbolic response. If you wear extremely sexually provocative clothing you are going to get people looking at you in a sexual way, (which can be good or bad – like most things) or if you wear crazy clothes that are something only a rockstar or a crazy person would wear, expect to be treated similarly.
If you are a larger than life individual and you dress in a such a way, that can have a serious advantage. It can impress and attract people. But it also can make people hate you because it may invoke their jealousy or make them feel like you are an asshole.
This is what I am talking about. Being conscious of your appearance. What you wear, how you carry yourself, etc. invokes a certain response from others. And you need to see what works best for you. Maybe you are that type that enjoys a more high-profile look. Me personally, I like being very low-profile. Bill Gates is my idol. To quote Bill Burr,
“Bill Gates looks like he works at a shoe store.”
And Bill truly has a reputation for being a down-to-earth guy, despite being a multi-billionaire. I respect that tremendously. It resonates much more with me, that type of image.
Now, you don’t need to copy that image, that is for some, not for others. My main point of this article is that I want you, reader, to think about your image and how to manage it. I am not encouraging abandoning your identity and changing yourself just to conform to whatever is cool like those sad kids in high school do, but I also am cautioning against buying into the bad soup of the day advice of doing whatever you want without caring about what others think.
Both of those routes are bad choices. Stay in the middle and make a compromise. Find what works with your style personally but that also invokes favorable judgments from others the majority of the time. You will find that your life may be much more livable when you do this. After all, it is quite nice to have positive interactions with the majority of people you interact with. And if you want this to happen you have to in effect play the game a little bit.
Remember: changing others is incredibly difficult and often impossible, but changing yourself is exactly the opposite.
Your life is in your hands, you are in control of it. Other people are in control of theirs, and that is something that you must accept, even if they judge wrongly or are total assholes. You might not like it, but you will have to deal with that.
So I say work on yourself, play the game a little bit, and try to find a healthy compromise where you can manage your image and thus manage their judgments.
Let me know how it goes, and your thoughts on the matter.