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Mental Health

Why Do We Care About What Other People Think of Us?

That question haunts me. I know I shouldn’t care about what others think but sometimes I just can’t help it. I care, maybe a little too much. I think everyone's concerned about how others seem them. The way we portray ourselves IS important, whether that be to potential employers or friends. But do people like me take this thought process too far?

Image via clker

The question of why we care has no clear-cut answer and leaves plenty of room for opinion but I’d like to think there is some evolutionary mechanism that led humans to be very self-aware. Maybe our ancestors needed others to think of them in a certain way so that they could join their group and survive. To an extent, that is still true today. We polish out LinkedIn profiles and dress up nicely for job interviews. We pay money for Greek letters. We act a certain way to fit into a club or friend group. Humans are social creatures. We thrive in groups and want to belong.

But maybe “caring so much” is a cultural custom. We're living in a capitalistic society where the rich get richer, so why would anyone need any money past the point of comfort? Because of status. People buy expensive cars and drive them around town to be seen. They care.

Image via Morrie's Automotive Group

And it’s not just the super wealthy. You can get $5 leggings at Target yet you’ll see countless people sporting LuLu Lemon $100 pants every day. Brand names thrive off their consumer’s ability to care and need to be accepted.

Even “hipsters” that pride themselves on living without labels or set expectations care. The hipster movement itself became a paradox when it went mainstream. The fake glasses and mustache businesses thrived as those that “didn’t care” posted posed selfies with branded coffees trying to get as many likes as they could.

Image via pinterest

Furthermore, the whole concept of getting “likes” or “retweets” only adds to this subconscious need to care what others think. You might have asked yourself something along the lines of, "What do I need to post/caption/edit/tag to get a lot of likes?"

From everything I’ve pointed about above you can see why caring what other’s think can be self-consuming, leading to anxiety and low self-image. But deciding to stop caring what others think is easier said than done. Maybe it’s something that takes time and practice; we stop caring about the little things like what to wear or what to order when eating out then progress to bigger things like what others think of our career choices. While I’m doubtful I’ll ever stop caring, I’m beginning to understand that it’s not completely a bad thing.

Megan Castiel is a third-year Biological Sciences major and Professional Writing and Applied Psychology double minor at UC Santa Barbara. She is from Thousand Oaks, California and loves cooking, traveling, and binge watching shows. As an editorial intern, she plans to develop her writing skills for a future in public health.
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