I show up to Psychology 15 minutes early because I can use my time to do homework without getting distracted by my phone; my teacher thinks I have nothing better to do. I never stop talking in Stats class, even if I’m doing work; my teacher thinks I am enthusiastic. I know where the NBA Hall of Fame is; Kyle Cregan calls me a know-it-all. I ate three cookies at break; they walked past and mocked me.
After parent-teacher interviews, my mom and dad told me that one of my teachers didn’t know anything about me until September. I’ve been here for three years. She didn’t know anything about me as an individual; who I was to her was overshadowed by what she saw of me, who I hang out with and the fact that she one time in Grade 10 was able to scare me by putting a porcelain doll in my windowsill.
Hearing this from my parents made me realize how people outside your everyday connections know you based on how they see you interact. This overarching concern for how people view you or what they think is felt by everyone at this school. The truth is, this concern for how you are perceived is probably necessary when trying to further personal advancement in your career, in your education, and in sports. The question begins, is this necessary when they don’t know anything about you?
Last year, I was diagnosed with a neurological condition. After missing endless classes for appointments, hospital visits and walks to the Wellness Centre, I failed my math test with a 25%. A boy in my English class told me, “I thought you were in the easy math? Are you stupid?” He knew the 1% of my situation. I rapidly fired back that I was at the hospital for the whole week prior and had to guess. If someone who I knew well had said this, I would have been upset or distraught. Coming from someone who knew nothing about me and my situation and who had no overall effect on me moving forward, I let it go.
Is caring what other people think beneficial when they know nothing about you? If they know the 1% of your situation and tear you down or have something to add, you should probably care as much as they do, which is not a lot. Similarly, if they know you well, maybe care or question as they do.
In a place where all forms of connections are encouraged to give yourself the most opportunities possible, it’s important to prioritize what makes you happy and ultimately what makes you you. By surrounding yourself with people and things that embody the best version of yourself, you won’t have to rely on what others might think of you.