We all dread it. Standing before a crowd, subject to their judgmental stares. You assume a faultless performance is expected, perfectly balanced between informative and entertaining. Each time you stumble over a word or lose your train of thought you feel your credibility slowly slipping away. Your body language, eye contact, and posture are scrutinized by strangers with high expectations. Your speech is maliciously evaluated; no mercy is shown. Any hint of vulnerability translates directly to weakness. Your job is to simultaneously amuse and enlighten, all while maintaining complete composure.
Plot twist: No one cares.
Think of all the times you have been a part of a crowd. While sitting in a hard plastic chair, watching a person pace back and forth onstage, you are not analyzing their every word, looking for mistakes. Instead, you are hoping to find the speech enjoyable. Any butchered words, unintentional puns, or Freudian slips are a welcome detour in our monotonous lives. Sometimes you aren’t even thinking about the speaker at all. Sometimes you are wondering what you will have for lunch that day. Tuna or club sandwich? Then the thought of a club sandwich reminds you of your recent break-up with Monica and how she used to always pack you a kick-ass lunch. Your mind trails off to Monica and her culinary skills for the duration of the speech. Now the guy profusely sweating onstage in fear of his preoccupied audience is teetering on the edge of a panic attack for no reason whatsoever. So next time you go onstage, don’t give your audience so much credit. Human beings are selfish creatures and scrutinizing your every word is not at the top of our priority list.
Running frantically through your apartment, you curse yourself for not taking the day off work to spend more time getting ready. Clearly every hair has to be curled and hairsprayed neatly into place. Your lipstick has to be perfect, signature scent present, and outfit wrinkle-free. This date could be the answer to the prayers of you and your cats. You glance at the clock, deciding on the perfect time to arrive at the restaurant, one that simultaneously says “I’m organized/prompt” and “I have a super busy life.” Once there, you choose your words carefully. When he asks about your favorite hobbies, Netflix and online-shopping come to mind. “Hmmm” you say, filling the air with anticipation while you actually search for an acceptable answer. “I guess I’d have to go with rock climbing and cooking.” You look up in hopes of seeing a facial expression that directly translates into “wow, she’s wifey material.”
Plot twist: He doesn’t care.
Unless he has extreme obsessive-compulsive disorder, he will not notice if a few hairs are out of place or your makeup is less-than-flawless. Guys also have a lot of things to stress about on a first date, so chances are, he’s focusing on himself (back to humans being selfish creatures). Rock climbing and cooking? Please be yourself ladies (and gentlemen). I once told a guy on a first date that I used to be a “professional jump roper,” and I said it with confidence. Why? Because even though it sounds lame, it’s a part of who I am. My outfit is probably going to have a few wrinkles, and unless there’s street parking only, I’ll most likely be right on time. He doesn’t care if you sound, look, or chew perfectly…and if he does, then he has psychological issues of his own that he needs to work out. If you’re super freaked out, just always think of how miniscule the worst-case scenario is. Zero amounts of chemistry? The conversation frequently hits a lull? There is no sense getting all worked up, freaked out, and Barbie-fied if the worst-case scenario is simply no second date. So next time you feel like your date is documenting your every move, remember that he’s probably just trying to keep gravy from dripping on his shirt.
Human beings gauge things relatively. Our criterion for a perfect weight is relative to that of our peers. In other words, if it seems like everyone on the beach has chiseled abs and invisible cellulite, but we don’t, we view ourselves as inferior by comparison. Clearly their seemingly perfect bodies give them the authority to judge our imperfections. Who do we think we are? Wearing a two-piece bikini like we didn’t accidentally gain 10 pounds last month instead of losing 5. Obviously everyone notices and wishes we would just leave. At least they admire our courage for even showing our chubby face in public.
Plot twist: No one cares.
Although it is true that we do frequently rely on relativity to determine how good or bad something is, there has to be an actual comparison taking place. So here is the reality check: No one is comparing your body to anyone else’s at the beach but you. Therefore, the only person that views your beach-bod as lacking is yourself. People who go to the beach want to have fun; chances are it’s one of their only weekends off work, and they are ready to unwind with a cold beer and good game of beach volleyball. Searching for shark teeth, building sand castles, and getting an awesome tan all usually take precedence over guesstimating the amount of weight that someone has put on. No matter how perfect someone’s body may seem to you, we all have insecurities. If anyone seems carefree, it’s because they’ve chosen to overlook their flaws and have a good time. So get up from the beach towel, dust yourself off (literally, because you’ll be super sandy), and do what you went to the beach to do.
The next time you find yourself crippled with fear about how others think of you, remind yourself that they probably aren’t. I tried to select the scenarios in which people typically feel the most self-conscious, but this applies to almost all situations. You are your harshest critic; a lot of your worries and insecurities are totally pointless because PLOT TWIST: NO ONE CARES.