It’s tricky to navigate the world when you dread the judgment of others. Like it or not, almost every day, you’re going to encounter someone – either a stranger or a friend – who is judging you for something, whether it be silently or aloud. Maybe you wore a new shirt and it’s not your usual style, so you fear being judged for taking a fashion risk. Maybe you got a drastic new haircut, and you worry how your friends and family will react. Maybe you enjoyed a movie, only to discover the RT score is below 20%.
The point I’m trying to get at is… none of that matters. Not beyond a superficial level. And there isn’t much point in altering your lifestyle to accommodate the opinions of others, so long as you aren’t harming yourself or others.
When I got to high school, there were certain aspects of my personality that I “hid” in order to avoid being ostracized by my peers. I was a stereotypical “geek,” super into anime and manga, huge fan of video games, and I only listened to J-Pop and J-Rock music. And yet, I couldn’t bring myself to join the anime club, or talk to anyone who outwardly expressed their fandom choices, or wear a T-shirt with any anime reference on it. I was afraid of being judged, so I only enjoyed my “guilty pleasures” whilst on my own. And, to be honest, I probably missed out on a lot of friendships because of that. There was nothing to be ashamed of, yet I allowed my life to be dictated by what others might think of me.
However, I galvanized my friendship with my best friend over masking our love of certain fandoms. When we first started hanging out outside of school, in 8th/9th grade, we each eventually discovered that the other was still a massive Pokemon fan. So we bonded over that, but didn’t quite let any others in on that facet of our friendship. And then, years later, we both got over it. Not our love of Pokemon, of course – no, that’s still going strong. We just don’t bother to hide it anymore. In fact, for the release of X and Y for the Nintendo DS, we went to the release at our local Gamestop to pick up the game at midnight. We hoisted our banners high, for all to see.
No one likes being judged – it sucks, especially if you are taking a risk. But that doesn’t mean you mask who you truly are, or stop putting yourself out there. Now, I realize that I’m not going to be able to stop people from judging me – that’s on them, not me. If someone judges me for playing Pokemon, or having a somewhat positive view of Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, or collecting Funko Pops, that’s all on them, and it reflects more on them than it does on me.
So hoist your banners, folks. Don’t let anyone take the wind from your sails.
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