Do You Care What Strangers Think of You?
By Guest Blogger Valerie Tejeda
A couple of months ago, I was running some last minute errands on Valentines Day, when the strangest thing happened to me. I stopped by my favorite place in the world, Whole Foods Market, to pick up some items so I could make something special for my valentine. As I walked toward the dessert section, it was crowded with men who just like me, were trying to find some last minute sweets for their sweethearts.
I finally made my way towards the front of the crowd and was happily browsing the desserts, when a man dressed in a nice suit came up to me and said, “Hey, I really like your boots.” I’ve noticed that there are two types of men in this world: men who notice fashion, and men who are oblivious to it. However, anyone who is into fashion would have definitely noticed these boots! I was wearing “Steve Madden Lexeee Boots,” and the truth is they are pretty fabulous. After his compliment, I turned and looked at him and said, “thank you.” He then removed himself from the dessert crowd and I continued browse. I honestly didn’t think a thing of it.
Less than a minute later, I felt someone tap me on my shoulder, and to my surprise it was the “boots” guy. “I’m actually shopping for my co-workers,” he said. “See, I own my own company, and we’re having a Valentine’s day party tomorrow, and I was just looking for some desserts for them. I’m not shopping for a significant other or anything.” He then continued by saying, “I just didn’t want you to think I was one of those ‘bad’ guys who compliments some young woman’s shoes, while shopping for their wife on Valentine’s day.” I was so confused, that all I could say in response was, “Ok.” He then picked up three boxes of organic heart shaped cookies and headed towards the cash register.
On my drive home I got to thinking about what the “boots” guy represented. He honestly did not seem like some “creepy-married-guy-type-trying-to-hit-on-me-on-Valentine’s-day.” I mean, all he did was compliment my shoes. But the strangest part of it all was, he wanted to make sure I KNEW that he was not some “creepy married guy that was hitting on me on Valentines day.”
So why did he care so much about what I, a complete stranger, thought of him?
Once I started looking for this, I felt like it was everywhere! All week, I constantly noticed people saying random comments to strangers. First, there was a lady in Peets Coffee letting people know that the crying kid next her, was not her child. Then, there was an embarrassed teenager voicing to shoppers that the loud woman in H&M was not her mother, even though she so obviously was. Following that, there was a girl in Boudin Bakery explaining to the cashier that she never usually eats alone, but had to today since her friend canceled on her last minute. And the cycled continued for the rest of the week.
So, the question is, why do we care what strangers think of us? Why do we give so much power to other people? People we don’t even know? Why do we need their approval?
According to Tom Perry, CEO of YourCoach, the need for approval has been conditioned within us since birth.“Approval from others gives us a higher sense of self-esteem. We’re convinced that their recognition matters to our self-worth and how deeply we value ourselves.” Hmmm. Interesting.
I admit, I go back and forth between having moments when I care about what strangers or others think of me, and not caring at all. But why do we go through all the trouble? What is at play here? I do know, that the more secure I am at a particular stage in my life, the less I care.
About Valerie Tejeda…
Val is a freelance writer and one of the the founders of Glamonomics.com, a site about the “study” of glamour. Glamonomics is a California based fashion blog bringing you four different types of styles from four girls (Val, Jess, Maggie, & Virginia) across the state. Their goal is to share with you their styles, fab finds, fashion favorites, trend reports and celebrity fashion.
What about you… do you care about what strangers think of you? Are you on the fence here? Why do you think we care about what strangers think of us? I’d love your opinion.