Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Caring about what others think - or not!

I have always been somewhat of a people-pleaser. I cared way too much about what others thought of me. In my younger years, I couldn't or wouldn't formulate an opinion about a movie or book because if my opinion differed from yours, I was afraid you wouldn't like me.

Now that I'm older, and hopefully wiser, I do share my opinion. And I have to say, I feel like an odd duck most of the time. I was with two girlfriends a few days ago and we got into a conversation about this. We discovered that we all feel that way - as if we don't fit, don't belong.

On American Idol, James (the young man with Asperger's and Turette's Syndrome, got voted off. When he was interviewed on Ellen Degeneres a few days later, he said something that really stuck with me: "Different is the new normal." I so love that, because I have always felt different.

Now that I've dyed my hair red, my friends are divided on how they feel about it. What this is teaching me is that I need to just focus in on how I feel about it. And how my husband feels about it, too. He thinks I'm beautiful no matter what color my hair is. Isn't that lovely? And he just wants me happy. So, I'm living with it for now and I have to tell you, there is a livelier step in my walk, I've gotten a few looks from strange men (that hasn't happened in decades) and I'm a bit freer when I'm singing. But I'm still a wee bit concerned that my friends will think I'm nuts. I guess, if they do, there's nothing I can do about that. And my real friends will understand what motivated me to do it and trust me to know what's best for me. Even if they don't agree.

So, my question to you, dear friends, is, do you care what others think? Or not?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

If you feel better, keep the red. Maybe your friends are just a little bit jealous, because now they look old next to you.

Paul Anthony Shortt said...

Your looks are all about how you feel, not how others feel. If you like it, go with it.

baygirl32 said...

different is the new normal - i LOVE that!

Jessica Bell said...

Do we get a photo? I'd love to see you with red hair!!!

I used to not care an inkling what people thought of me, but as I get older, I do sometimes. It's not a strong feeling, but it creeps up on me if I feel intimidated by someone. I sorta feel I need to prove my worthiness :-/

L.G.Smith said...

I think I used to be more of a people pleaser when I was younger. Age has helped me get over most of that. I even say no to people occasionally. :)

Suze said...

After I had my daughter, I was heavier than I ever had been and had the typical case of baby blues-- plus I was saddled with an infant in a city without family and without a shred of experience in her constant care. When she was three months old, I went to a hairstylist to get the cut I wore-- and loved-- in my university days, when I had first met my excellent husband. It was a pixie cut-- shorn very close with a few mischievous little wisps. At first, I was unsure. I felt too heavy to pull it off. I went to a department store and bought a pair of tiny, sparkling earrings because I felt-- rather than liberated-- shorn.

The moment I walked back in the door to greet my husband and infant girl, his eyes lit up and he said, 'You look beautiful! I can see your face!'

The haircut got varied reactions. One grandfather said I was Demi Moore from 'Ghost,' the other said I had shaved off my glory. Some people loved it, some people said, 'well, it'll grow back, right?' But none of those impressions meant near as much to me as the first one-- that of my husband.

Not every woman has a man in her life who will love her no matter what color or length her hair is, whether she is fat or slim, old or young and everything in between. If you have that, allow what *you* really like and the fact that he sees past the exterior and into the kernel of who you are-- a magnificent artist and unique soul-- to dictate that spring in your step. Forget about pleasing everyone. a) impossible, b) is it even desirable?

Love to you this day,

Talli Roland said...

I do. I'm sad to say. It's something I need to work on - but at least I'm aware of it. I wish I didn't care!

Karen Walker said...

Alex and Paul, your "male" perspective is extremely helpful. Thank you both.
babygirl32, yeah, me, too
Jessica, as soon as I get up enough nerve, a pic will appear
L.G., yeah, age helps me with it somewhat as well
Suze, your comment here means the world to me - thanks so much
Talli, it's okay, we'll all work on it

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I do, and I don't. I don't want to have people *mad* at me (I'm the kind of person who doesn't like to make waves), but I don't care what they think otherwise. I've waffled on whether that's a good quality for me or not!

Hilary said...

Hi Karen .. I care less and less - I just wish that everything I do or where I am wasn't criticised so much .. and that empathy could be given for the situation - it makes me defensive as I go around ..til I'm sorted that's the way it'll be - but it's taught me to be more aware and sympathetic of peoples' situations ..

I'm not sure I'd dye my hair red - because I'm not that sort of gal .. but I do my thing - tough!!

Cheers and good for you .. Hilary

Mary Aalgaard said...

Embrace your inner red head! It's true, we need to focus on how we feel about ourselves, not how others perceive/judge us. It's hard to do. I'm still working on it myself.

Darlene said...

I would love to see your red hair. I'll bet it looks amazing. Do I care what others think of me? Yes, and no. I keep a lot of opinions to my self unless, I know I'm around people who understand me. I'm no debater, so if I think someone will challenge me, then I really get tight-lipped! Kinda sad, huh?

Brianna said...

Still struggling to not care what other people think, but I do. It's a process - coming to terms with who I am and loving myself. When I think back to how concerned I was with what others thought in high school, I can see progress. I still have a long way to go though.

Melissa Ann Goodwin said...

My mother cared very much what people think all the time. It could be that I've rebelled against that, but I think it's really always been my nature, but I really just kind of do my own thing and find my own way. It's not that I don't care what they think, but that I've learned to trust my own gut. I bet you're red hair is fabulous!

Jules said...

If I did care, it's too late now. :) Hey and you know being red haired entitles you not to care and smack those who do. :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Linda Hoye said...

The older I get the less I care what other people think. It is wonderful!

Elliot MacLeod-Michael said...

You in your younger years sounds an awful lot like my girlfriend today. She's making progress though. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I care very little about what people think. I care a lot about what God thinks.


Sharon Lippincott said...

LOL -- Last week I blogged about feeling different.

At a Memorial Day gathering my neighbor gals were talking about swimming. "You used to enjoy the water" A said to D.

"I hate how I look in a swim suit. If I could swim in this (indicating full clothing), I'd love it again," D replied.

That turned conversation to concern about body image. "In another ten years, we won't care anymore, right D?" C said.

"I already don't!" said K, whose shape resembles a seal. Queen-sized M even younger concurred. "So if we don't care, why would you?"

"Some of us mature faster than others." Perfect answer!

My bottom line: My quirks make me Me. One of my quirks is that I have given myself permission to admit that I hate swimming, so it doesn't matter how I feel about my appearance in a bathing suit.

Karen Walker said...

Elizabeth, not sure we need to "judge" whether it's good or bad.
Hillary, yeah, I get that - not wanting to be criticized
Mary, I'll be working on it till the day I you die.
Darlene, you and I sound like we are alike in this area.
Brianna, yes, me, too. Sigh!
Melissa, I've learned to trust me gut also, but still working on letting go of what others think of my gut.
Jules, oh, LOL, girlfriend.
Linda, amen to aging.
Elliot, you're welcome. And thank you.
Simona, yes, yes.
Sharon, oh, this made me smile. Thanks.

Joanne said...

I've often told my kids that really, it does not matter what thought occurs in someone else's mind about what you do. Just follow your heart, and know there's a difference between criticism and caring.

And regarding your red hair, love that you did this! It should never feel wrong to want to look good. Because ultimately, that appearance, I believe, is a reflection of what we're feeling inside, too.

Anonymous said...

I hope you post a picture of your beautiful new hair colour! I do judge myself against others almost unconciously. I need to stop the act of beating myself up because I think someone else dresses better, talks better, is smarter, etc...I need to change how I think about myself, transforming into being okay with whatever others think of me.

Karen Walker said...

Joanne, your girls are lucky to have a wonderful, wise mom like you. And your words have really helped me understand why I did what I did. Thank you.
Lynn, I will post a pic soon - and I wish you luck with transforming into being okay with whatever others think of you - I'm working on the same exact thing.

Liz Fichera said...

The older I get, the less I care what other think. That said, I think there's a difference between doing/trying things for pure shock value and doing things for pure personal enjoyment. P.S. Your husband sounds like a prince! :-)

Dafeenah said...

I so totally relate to this. I care what certain people think and would alter my wants/needs/desires around their opinion instead of what was best for me. Unfortunately usually the people whose opinion I cared about were toxic people that did more harm than good. Learning to just be myself and trusting myself is difficult but am working on it

Angela Felsted said...

I try not to, but sometimes it's hard when our self-perceptions are so often based on what others have said or continue to say about us.

Laura Eno said...

I've always felt 'odd' so I care less and less as time goes by. I try not to make waves though.
Where's the pic of your new hair?! I think that's wonderful!

The Old Silly said...

Dyed your hair red?! You go, girlfriend! LOL

This post brings to mind a favorite quote - can't remember the author, but it goes something like, "You wouldn't care so much about what others thought of you if you knew how seldom they did."

We are not here to live up to other peoples' expectations, nor adhere to their ideas of what we should be and do, hmm?

Marvin D Wilson

Helen Ginger said...

I have to admit, I do care. But not as much as I used to.

Will there be a picture of you with your new hair color? I bet you're fabulous with red hair!

Anonymous said...

Karen, I hear you. I don't care what others think either, which is why I've gone back to my gray hair. It looks better than I did when I let my youngest hairdresser daughter color it.

I read your comment. I can't believe I didn't post a review on Amazon. Maybe it was because way back when I read your book Amazon intimidated me. I did put up a review on Goodreads, though. So I went in and found it, added to it to make it stronger, cut and pasted it into Amazon, and it should be up within their 48 hours--you know the procedure. I'm SO glad you reminded me. It's a five-star book, one of the best memoirs I've read. There ARE some great books self-published, and yours is at the top! I hope you'll like what I wrote. I hope I did justice to a book that moved me deeply.

Julie said...

I bet the red hair looks fabulous! I'm anxious to see the picture.

I can so relate to what you said about your younger years, and not forming an opinion about a movie or book. I did the same, and now I finally see how silly that was. I also often feel like the odd duck now that I do share! :D

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

When I was young, I cared way too much about what other people thought, and was devastated if I thought someone didn't like me or didn't approve of something I'd done. But as I grew older, I realized it simply isn't possible to please everybody all of the time. So I got over it. We just do the best we can. You're happy, and your husband is happy, and that's what matters.

Karen Walker said...

Liz, my husband is a prince - it took me several tries, but I sure lucked out this time.
Dafeenah, ah yes, I relate to that as well.
Angela, yes, yes, it's hard to get this lesson
Laura and Helen, I'll get a pic up very soon, I promise.
Old Silly, thanks for that fabulous quote
Ann, thank you so much for doing that. I really appreciate it. I'll go check it out right now.
Julie, I hope it does - I'm kinda liking it.
Susan, yes, I'm very lucky, aren't I?

Pearson Report said...

I know...it sound brazen, brash, bold and bitchy! But...I don't look to anyone, but the face I see in a mirror, for validation or approval regarding my appearance.

Now...as bold as all that sounds I am open to constructive criticism as it pertains to all things connected to me and my actions, but wholly unrelated to my appearance.

My looks are out of bounds - there's just no room for movement on this topic. My friends (yes, I do have a few) know this about me. They also know that I will NEVER pass any kind of judgement on their appearance - full stop - ever!

I also never ask for an opinion about my appearance - been that way my whole life. It’s like standing waiting for the firing squad to find bullets, load and then shoot. I’m not into that kind of self-inflicted torture.

If you asked me if I liked you with red hair (which I imagine looks stunning - not that you needed me to say so), my question to you would be, "Do you like it?"

But the real question I need to be asked is: “Do I like you?” - your hair would never factor in my decision-making regarding liking you! That’s were I differ from most. Big house, big car, red hair - big deal. If you are a nice, kind person I’ll like you regardless of the trappings or your hair colour. That’s just me!

After all it's your hair, on your head and it's your choice. The only reason I would not like it would be because I would be imagining it on me - but that's were most of us make the mistake in giving our unsolicited opinion so freely - I'm not you; your head is not sitting on my shoulders...so there is no need for me to “have an opinion” about your appearance.

As to your wonderful “prince of a husband” - good man. I imagine he’d love you if you shaved your head and got a tat on it! Just sayin’...

I’m a big fan of yours - red, white or checkered!
Hugs, Jenny

Karen Walker said...

Jenny, you absolutely rock! Would you please kindly live inside my head for awhile?

K.C. Woolf said...

Guilty as charged - I'm a people pleaser, even though I'm quite strong and can be outspoken at times. It's a side effect of being an extravert, I think.

It's definitely easier to cope with now than when I was in my teens and twenties, so I'm looking forward to a future as an independent woman, at least inside my head. ;-)

Anonymous said...

this blog is very good mmmm

Shannon Lawrence said...

So far in my adult life I'm a people pleaser, but I'm trying to get back to the way I was as a teenager (just the good aspects that would agree with a mom of two, not the not-so-good ones). I was very much a strong individual when I was younger; the insecurities came as I got older and started caring what other people thought. I am still an individual, but I secretly take in everyone's reactions around me.

Enjoy your new hair! I rarely wear makeup and live in jeans and sweat pants, but I changed my hair recently and it felt great!

Patricia Stoltey said...

I love it that you dyed your hair red!!!