Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dear Fear of What Others Think

by Jesse Rice

Dear Fear-Of-What-Others-Think,

I am sick of you and it’s time we broke up. I know we’ve broken up and gotten back together about a bazillion times, but seriously, Fear-Of-What-Others-Think (or FOWOT, for short), this is it. We’re breaking up.

Because I’m tired of over-thinking my status updates on Facebook, trying to sound more clever, funny, important. And I’m tired of wondering which Tweets might drive the most traffic to my blog, as though my value as a human being were truly numerical.

I’m tired of wondering which picture to post online so that my in-danger-of-over-expanding gut doesn’t hang out too much and cause others to think I’m a perfectly normal human being, God forbid. Or that I vacation not in Hawaii or Paris or rural Vietnam, but in central Oregon, if I can afford to go on vacation at all.

I’m sick of feeling anxious about what I say or do in public, especially around people I don’t know that well, all in the hope that they’ll like me, accept me, praise me. Those who already like me, accept me, and even praise me; those are the ones I’m constantly trying to keep happy. I run around all day feeling like a freaking Golden Retriever with a full bladder. Like me! Like me! Like me!

And I’m SO tired of feeling bad about myself all the time. Bad about how I look. Bad about my job. Bad about my net worth (which is currently quite RED in color). Bad about my 12-year-old car and my two-fashion-seasons-behind clothes. Bad about my prospects for wealth and fame and Nobel Prize-winning ideas. Bad about my community, or lack thereof.

Because of you, I go through my day with a cloud of shame hanging over my head, blocking the sun, keeping my throat sore and my nose consistently runny and my eyes all squinty like a newborn. And I HATE that.

Because when I’m afraid of what others think, I never stop acting. The spotlight’s always on and I’m center stage and I’d better keep dancing, posturing, mugging, or else the spotlight will move and I’ll dissolve into a little meaningless puddle on the ground, just like that witch in The Wizard of Oz. I can never live up to the expectations of my imaginary audience, the one that lives only in my head but whose collective voice is louder than any other voice in the universe.

And since I know I’m acting and since I know the spotlight’s always moving and since I know that in the bigger picture none of this matters a rat’s patootie, I’m never content to simply be myself.

And all of this is especially horrible, terrible, evil because if I really stop and think about it, and let things go quiet and listen patiently for the voice of the God who made me and delights in me, it turns out I’m actually—profoundly—precious, lovable, worthy, valuable, and even just a little ghetto-fabulous.

When I listen to that voice then your voice starts to sound ridiculous again. You turn back into the tiny, whining little wiener dog that you are.

So eat it, Fear-Of-What-Others-Think. You and I are done. And no, I’m not interested in “talking it through.” I’m running, jumping, laughing you out of my life, once and for all. Or at least, that’s what I really, really want, God help me.

Can you relate? How so?

Jesse is a speaker, musician, and the author of The Church of Facebook: How the Hyperconnected Are Redefining Community. He and his wife Katie are parents to 7-month-old Ryder and a yellow Lab named Boone. They live in Seattle-ish, WA. You can find out more about Jesse at his blog,


  1. I can't even describe how relevant this is to my life today. I am doing a presentation in one of my classes. I haven't been in school or done a presentation in over four years. I'm petrified. You would think for a former band member that played shows in front of 500 to 900 people that this would be a piece of cake, but it's not. I cried last night and practically made myself sick with fear. I don't know why it scares me to talk about something I have extensive knowledge on in front of maybe 20 people. It doesn't even make sense. I'm giving this presentation in three hours, and I am going to reflect beforehand on how much God loves me, no matter what I say or do in front of this class today!

    1. So glad it was a timely post for you Samantha! I think we can all relate to this!

    2. Glad it connected, Samantha - will be thinking of you and your presentation. Hoping you enjoy the freedom of just being yourself (even while the nerves may feel a bit tingly). Good luck!

  2. I love this post. Very relatable. :)

  3. Jesse...bro...are we breaking up, again?

  4. SO amazing! Nicely put. Thank you for this.

  5. I totally get this! Being on the BL and then being home with the world watching me, I GET THIS. I def appreciate the Candor here!

  6. this is amazing... thank you thank you thank you!

  7. It's funny...ever since acne appeared in my life back in junior high, I have felt like this but way worse. Until a friend came into my life my junior year of high school and turned my world around. For the last 20 years I have adopted the idea that if you don't like me then you don't need to be a part of my life. If you bring negativity, drama, "the world sucks and I'm its victim" mentality to my table; get up, turn around and leave. I don't care what people think of me. I'm loud, obnoxious, laugh at inappropriate times, make jokes out of life, I gossip, I love giving and getting hugs, I always have a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen...I am me. Like it or leave it, no skin off my nose!


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