I care what people think of me. There, I said it. I care far less than I once did, but like most people, I’m fairly mindful of how I’m being perceived. As a mere mortal in this regard, I’m in constant awe of those fearless superheroes who seem totally unconcerned with the opinions of others.

I’m not talking about the “let me repeatedly subtweet about how much I don’t care what people think of me” crowd, I’m referring to that rare breed of personality that genuinely gives no care about the judgment of others. You know, the Rihannas, Frank Oceans, and Cardi Bs of the world who seem all-together unbothered. Granted, they operate in an industry that celebrates their individuality, but even within that field, they seem to have escaped the super-sanitized PR scrub-down that so often accompanies superstardom, and we love them for it.

no rihanna no bueno
Photo: giphy

In the meantime, those of us out here on this regular-degular are less able to truly embrace that zero chucks life. Seriously, in the real world our lives and livelihoods depend heavily on the good opinion of our employers, our communities and in some cases, our social circles. Depending on culture and geographical location, social codes of conduct can range from ultra conservative to super liberal, but no matter where you are, a certain level of compromise is necessary in order to function in the world. So, how do we balance being true to ourselves with managing social protocol? How much should we really care what anyone thinks of us?

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Photo: thinkpurpose.com

For me, it’s a delicate balance. Needing everyone’s validation and approval is a sure recipe for disaster, but I do believe that there needs to be a happy medium between caring too much and not caring at all. For those who struggle with knowing exactly where to draw that line, here are five golden rules that might prove helpful when it comes to weighing the opinions of others:

1. Filter out the hate

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Photo: Genius.com

Some people just hate out of habit. Straight up…Like, wake up, wash face, brush teeth, HATE! Let them have it. Who are you to stand in the way of someone’s favorite pastime? I’d say the overwhelming majority of judgements and opinions don’t warrant any energy.

2. Consider the source

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Photo: glee.wikia.com

The opinions of some people just carry more weight than others. The judgement of strangers, social media trolls and that random disrespectful dude on the subway don’t matter at all. The opinions of acquaintances and co-workers should perhaps carry some weight, but it’s the feedback from your trusted circle of friends, family and loved ones that, in my opinion, warrant the most consideration. I’m willing to make considerable compromise for the people I love.

3. Is this a pattern?

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Photo: rebloggy.com

If you’re constantly receiving the same criticism, even if it’s from individuals outside your inner circle, maybe it’s worth looking at. It’s important to stay open to self-examination. We all have our blind spots.

4. Elders be knowing

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Photo: attn.com

Don’t sleep on the advice of seniors. Seriously, if an elder is willing to sit down, be transparent and kick knowledge, I’m always willing to listen. There’s something to be gained from people who have lived and seen some things.

5. Is it worth it?

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Photo: daystune.com

Some choices are inherently controversial. If doing what you feel is right earns a certain amount of social stigma, you have to be prepared for that. Unless you are willing to compromise your purpose for the approval of others, you’re going to need a thick skin to walk out this journey on your own terms.

At the end of the day, it’s your life to live. There might be times when it’s necessary to consider what other people think of you, but as long as you know who you are and what you stand for, nobody’s opinion should carry more weight than your own.

The transition into adulthood isn’t an easy one. Navigating relationships, managing workplace politics, hitting those milestones on schedule— don’t be fooled, no one knows what they’re doing. There will be all kinds of fumbles, blunders and awkward missteps along the way. If you’re constantly wondering to yourself, “Am I doing this right?” Welcome. This is just the place for you.

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