Who are you trying to impress? That was a question that my friend asked me the other day, after noticing that not only had I had my eyebrows threaded, but I had also had my nails done properly as well. I have to admit, that question stumped me for a little bit. I didn’t have an answer for her.
We’re told from a young age that we have to impress other people, and in particular that we have to look a certain way or dress a certain way in order to impress people. I mean how often have we seen a headline along the lines of ‘Dress to Impress.’ It won’t be the first time I’ve taken an effort in my own appearance and had someone ask, “Who are you trying to impress?” I doubt it will be the last time either.
This time however, for the first time in a long time, maybe even forever, my answer to that question was that I wasn’t trying to impress anybody. I’d done my eyebrows and my nails. But I hadn’t done them for anyone else’s benefit. I’d done them for myself. I’m not even sure exactly when it happened, when exactly I started dressing to impress myself and not anybody else. When my first question about an outfit became “Do I think it looks good?” rather than “What will other people think?”
For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to impress people. I’ve tried (often far too hard) to make a good impression on other people, and I’ve always been easily swayed by other people’s opinions. I was very very good at changing myself to try fit in with the expectations of a group of people. I’m not going to lie, constantly trying to impress everyone? That shit is exhausting. It’s also pretty much impossible.
There’s a saying somewhere “you can’t please everyone’” and it took me far too long to actually realise the truth in that statement. Not everyone in life is going to like you, just like you’re not going to like everyone you meet in life. Unfortunately, that’s kinda just the way the world works.
Spending time and energy trying to get someone who doesn’t like you to like you? That’s just a waste of time and energy that could be used for far more interesting uses. Like twitter stalking your favourite celebrity, or making a really good meal, or going for a walk on one of the few nice days we have, or even binge watching three seasons of your T.V. show. Honestly just pretty much doing anything you enjoy doing.
Social media really doesn’t help the situation either. It’s so easy to get caught up in it all. To get caught in the need to constantly impress strangers on the internet. We get obsessed with likes, and views, and shares. We spend far too long trying to craft the perfect status, take the perfect picture, compose the perfect tweet. Or at least I know I do.
It’s weird though. Or maybe not weird at all, because in fact it makes a whole lot of sense. But when I stopped doing things for other people and started doing them for me I became a whole lot happier in myself. I get my eyebrows done because it makes me feel good about myself. I get my nails done because having a new colour every few weeks is something that I enjoy. I go to see films that I want to go see because it’s something that I enjoy. I got to conventions by myself, because that makes me happy. And that is an amazing feeling.
There are times when trying to impress people does actually matter. Like the interview for that job that you really really want, or the first time you meet your significant other’s family. Most of the time however, the only person you should be really trying to impress is yourself. Life is way too short to spend important time worrying about what people will think of you (says the girl diagnosed with social anxiety at 19, I wonder what my therapist would think of me now).
There’s a quote that I think sums this whole thing up pretty well. In fact, it’s a quote that I like so much I got it tattooed on my side as a permanent reminder. It goes like this:
“Be who you are and say what you feel,
because those who mind don’t matter,
and those who matter don’t mind”