Overcoming the Fear of Others’ Opinions: Embracing Life’s Adventures

  I have been very concerned about other people’s opinions since I was a child.
  In a Chinese class in my freshman year of high school, I was called on by the teacher to ask a question. I stood up and gave a hesitant answer, which made the classmates burst into laughter. All of a sudden, all eyes were focused on me. My face turned red and I wanted to find a crack in the ground to crawl in.
  I didn’t listen to a word of the rest of the lesson. Just a few dozen minutes made me suffer endlessly: I was so embarrassed now that I couldn’t hold my head high in front of my classmates. My deskmate, my best friend, and the male classmate I had a crush on were all strangers from now on. I was destined to be alone for three years in high school.
  Not long after, I found that new topics emerged in the class discussions among my classmates, and no one remembered the embarrassing incident about me anymore. This was the first time I realized that my embarrassment was only my own business. To others, it was just a few small words written on the beach, which disappeared when a wave hit me.
  After graduating from university, I became a lecturer. During the three-month induction training, each of us had to give a lecture, which was difficult for me because I blushed whenever I spoke to others.
  Every time I memorize a manuscript off the stage, I know it by heart, but as soon as I get on stage and introduce myself, my brain short-circuits. My hands and feet were shaking with nervousness, and my voice was shaking. I would always talk incoherently for two or three minutes and then run away in a hurry.
  Although my colleagues were very friendly and encouraged me all the time, no matter what they said, I only had the word “shameful” in my mind.
  It wasn’t until my colleagues came on stage to give lectures more often that I discovered that everyone was actually at about the same level, some were a little more calm, and some were more nervous than me.
  Later, when I talked about these things with my colleagues, I said that I was too embarrassed at the time. Unexpectedly, my colleagues felt that they themselves were even more embarrassed. It turns out that everyone cares more about their own performance and less about others.
  As my experience increases, I feel more and more that it is wishful thinking on my part to care too much about other people’s opinions.
  I often magnify the small mistakes I make dozens of times in my mind. If I make a small mistake, it is like a big mountain pressing down on my life, and I can never get over it. But others didn’t pay as much attention to me as I imagined. They could only recall some small things that happened between us sporadically, and the embarrassment that I was brooding over had long been forgotten by them.
  It turns out that I don’t have that many viewers in my life.
  I once read a story: a painter exhibited his favorite work in the art hall. In order to listen to everyone’s opinions, he put a pen next to the painting, hoping that everyone could point out the shortcomings of the painting.
  In the evening, the painter confidently went to pick up the painting, only to find that the entire painting was covered with marks. To the viewer, the painting is useless.
  The painter was very sad and began to doubt his painting ability. Later, after being reminded by a wise man, the painter changed his mind and listened to everyone’s opinions.
  He sent the same painting to the exhibition again, but this time he asked the audience to mark what they admired most about the painting. As a result, every stroke of the painting that had been criticized was marked with praise.
  Only then did the painter understand: No matter what people do, it is impossible to satisfy everyone, but what seems defective to some people is exactly beautiful in the eyes of others.
  This is true of paintings, and so is life. No one is perfect, and no matter what you do, there will always be people who make irresponsible remarks.
  Since I figured this out, I have tried many things that I didn’t dare to do before: I am no longer afraid of others laughing at me for learning to sing at such an old age, but I can sing and learn whenever I want; I don’t care what others say about me. Don’t be gregarious, but spend more time on things you like.
  It is a pleasant thing to live boldly in a limited life. Others are just passers-by in life, we ourselves are the controllers of life.

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