You can’t make everyone happy.
Firstly because you don’t intend to or see any point in it. Secondly, it’s simply the nature of humanity to be divided. Hence, no planned or arbitrary step you take can make everybody happy, even by chance.
People will always have something to say — albeit when they appreciate your actions, but even more so if they disapprove. Apparently, society functions in a manner as if the action of one that doesn’t remotely relate to another will still yield a response, often more negative than it needs to be.
Besides, information is meant to flow, especially when it’s about a person. There is an abundance of curious carriers who get a kick out of broadcasting trivial developments of people’s personal lives in their 24/7 gossip channels.
Living halfway across the world from family and friends as a self-employed creative means Facebook and its whole gang are somewhat indispensable to me. Even with my interactions limited and updates infrequent (and impersonal), my activities remain under the microscope of the curious club.
I have made it pretty clear to many, passively and with minimum profanity, that I’m devoid of fucks to provide towards their opinions. The fact of the matter though — people don’t pass judgments about your life for your benefit. They do it for their own pleasure.
No matter how minuscule your fucks are, you can’t deprive them of the big chunk of joy it brings to their lives that revolve and evolve around being critical of your progress, originating usually from a lack of their own.
At one point, I started wondering if not finding public opinions fuckworthy is the end of the story. Soon I formed a habit of dissecting annoyance (or flattery) away and analyzing the bare and raw contents within the comments.
Once I heard it through the grapevine that my arrogance gets on people’s nerves. The original source of the comment was a “friend” who despite having much more than me, in material terms, felt immensely competitive around me. So I identified where his insecurities lie and decided to bypass it.
Soon I began to stumble upon repeated telecasts of the same message from different sources. I felt the need to explore rather than ignore.
I carry strong convictions about how certain things should work, I have peculiar ways of doing things and I say what I mean with confidence. Apparently, despite my well-mannered and friendly behavior, my concrete standpoint left some self-proclaimed alphas feeling unrecognized (and hence dethroned) as their opinions were seemingly unregistered with me.
I started to observe some value in the accusation. Despite harboring innumerable self-doubts, I distanced people with my self-assured persona.
That wasn't a good sign, because some people live off their ego being stroked. Hell, some ‘friendships’ even have this as an unspoken caveat, and me seemingly depriving them of their alphahood could cost a few connections.
So, I learned to circumstantially remodel my self-expression in a way that, even when the other party simply differs with me for the sake of differing, they can enjoy the safe haven I created for them to do so.
Everyone wants to be heard after all.
So I’m still stubborn (by their definition), but through analysis of their accusations of me, I've learned to mask it better and repair my own quirks.
One can float away in flattery as well. Appreciation can come from people with good intentions who lack expertise or people with ulterior motives who can charm you with their charisma. Appreciation also arrives in the form of genuine encouragement from people who know what they’re saying.
Both in photography and writing, I've learned over time to know which is which. Sometimes I play along even when I know the value of the flattery itself is next to nothing, as long as I see alternative long-term benefits in it.
Much of my 20s, I've allowed a lot of opinionated people — relatives, newly made acquaintances, university professors, and industry co-hustlers to comment on my plans, decisions, and actions. Instead of shunning them away out loud, I've created a literal or figurative outlet for them to comfortably channel their unwelcome bits of advice and criticisms towards me.
I listened to them rant about my academic and career choices, my unstable and “immature” nature of switching between interests and pursuits, about my choices of people to keep close or push away, about how I see life — basically every step of my feet and turn of my neck.
Then I turned those into win-win situations.
Nothing makes people happier than being able to express an opinion about you, to you, as an expert in your life, while you just sit there and nod.
It’s as if having failed to bring their own lives into balance, they've taken on the mission to salvage yours, and the intense pleasure from this imaginary sense of control and accomplishment beats every orgasm they ever had.
And I used this mad surge of advice and accusations to calmly take the last row seat at my own life’s play, finding unintended value in their opinions, finding clues about the aspects of my life and persona that I can improve.
I kept driving, convincing them the wheel is in their hands.
You can argue that your life is not for others to comment on, but that Utopian fantasy doesn't exist. You live in a reality where people react to what they observe, so they will have opinions about the part of your life they get to observe — regardless of how much they know or understand.
Yes, it will often make you want to scream “I don’t give a fuck!”.
But imagine you do give some fucks, just the right amount, not about them having an opinion of you, but about the clues for potential growth and self-improvement that hide within their messages.
It’s like a free stack of reviews that only you get to decide how much to take from and how much to throw away.
So the next batch of fresh opinions that get handed to you, don’t throw it over. Take the tray, keep it for a moment, poke around through its contents, and pick the muffins and macaroons that taste good.
Then you get to say…
Sorry, not sorry.
No thanks to YOU, but thanks anyways 🙏