When "They" Say Something, They're Not Talking About You

BlogHer Original Post

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of speaking at the World Domination Summit, the conference masterminded by the impressive Chris Guillebeau. Chris is the author of the blog The Art of Nonconformity, and the purpose of this summit was to answer the question "How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world?"

wds2


As you can imagine, a conference like this was populated by some incredibly free-thinking, individuality-valuing folks, and as a result, the feeling of the conference was positively electric. Add to the mix speakers like Leo Babauta and Pam Slim, and you have the makings of a truly mind-bending event.

Chris Guillebeau


I was only able to attend the first day, and since I was scheduled to speak at the end of the day, I sat in rapt attention for all of the first day's talks. They didn't disappoint in any way. But I found that it was the comment of one of the audience members that has stayed with me in a surprising way.

I can't remember exactly what the context was that spurred this woman to share her comments, but when she was called upon, she said:

"When I was in my 30s, I used to worry what people said about me. When I was in my 40s, I decided I didn't care. Now that I'm in my 50s? I realize they were never talking about me in the first place."

Her comment was received with appreciative laughter from the other 499 people in the room, but I have to tell you, listening to that comment was like a personal emancipation. They were never talking about me in the first place. How freeing are these words? Imagine, if they were never talking about me in the first place, why spend so much time worrying about what "they" think, or living a life in a way that pleases "them"?

I've mentioned before that I think we are called to create our own story, and not let others create it for us. For me, this comment further emphasized this point: As long as we are living good lives, in a manner that fulfills us, that lights us up, and that helps make our individual worlds better places for our communities and people we love, who cares about the rest of it -- the way we dress, the way our houses look, or any of the rest of it?

It was wonderful food for thought. And as we close our month on "individuality," I invite you to consider that audience-member's comment as well.

Create your own story.

They were never talking about you in the first place.

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Karen Walrond is a writer and photographer in Houston, Texas, and the author of the book, The Beauty of Different, available at Bright Sky PressAmazon and Barnes & Noble.  You can read/see more of her life at Chookooloonks.

 

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