Do you ever have those days when you feel like the whole world is looking at nothing but you? When you’re walking down the street and you feel like people are actually stopping conversations to stare at you? When every single time you look up from what you are doing there is yet another person burning a hole in your skin?
I’ve literally just had one. As I write this I am a couple of cocktails in and have just made it home from Central London and genuinely cannot remember the last time I was THIS grateful to be back in the safety of my own house.
Generally speaking, I don’t like to wear particularly tight or figure hugging clothes. If I do, I sort of need to know that a) where I am going will be pretty dark or that b) I will be with enough people whom I feel totally comfortable with that I have too much fun to be self conscious. But today, after a very sweaty walk home in a jumper (July?!) I quickly swapped it for a T-shirt in a two-minute turn around before rushing off to meet some old school friends for a drink in Soho. I didn’t think much about the outfit and due to the sweat still pouring out of me at the time, I decided to go jumperless. Urgh. Stupid.
As I turned left at the end of my road towards the bus stop I immediately regretted that decision and the moment I did, I all of a sudden felt the eyes of everyone at the bus stop hone in on me, judging me for my outfit as I got closer. I honestly stopped in the street, looked at the time (30 minutes late already) and back to my house, trying to work out how quickly I could get changed. Not quickly enough it would seem, the bus was here. Fuck it. I got on.
Now this is where the staring came in. As I walked(/wobbled because London bus drivers wait for no man woman or child) up the aisle I caught the eye of ConfidenceShattererNo1 who, I shit you not, despite being a weird looking man in his early 60s, still had the power with one ‘up down look’ to bring a tear to my eye. Ignoring him I tried smiling at ConfidenceShattererNo2, a young girl next to me who was actually dressed incredibly similarly, who literally gave me the dreaded raised eyebrow/filthy death stare. ConfidenceShattererNo3 got to me as I went to disembark, laser beams might as well have been shooting from her eyes directly into my back. It was a similar story on the tube and for the duration of tube stop to destination walk.
I don’t know what was wrong with me that night but I was stupidly self conscious which, considering that I run the blog that I do and that I am a Londoner to my core should mean that this stuff just washes straight over me. A combination of the ‘fuck off I’m fabulous so fuck the haters’ mentality that I have forced upon myself and my general acceptance that anyone that resides within the M25 is a grumpy fucker, should equate to my absolutely not giving a shit. But. Here I am, absolutely giving one.
Of course, in real life, these people were NOT all staring at me. In reality, they don’t care about me. Who am I to them? No one. I did nothing wrong and my rational brain was telling me that in no uncertain terms. It was telling me that I looked totally normal and that I was just being a little weirdo for building up something so massive in my head. But for some reason, the irrational part of my brain, the one that listens to Oprah when she says that you should only wear a crop top if you have a flat stomach and the one that has to work out daily why I’m not ‘beach body ready’ yet, just won out today.
And seeing as we’re in the midst of a pretty impressive heatwave at the moment and we can’t all hide under layers and layers of material unless we want to melt, I want to address this issue, this crippling self consciousness that so many of us battle with, that is making us feel like the whole world is just sitting there, waiting for us to fuck it up, so that they can judge us.
But let’s work this out. How often do you find yourself really staring at strangers? Not glancing at them or even studying them during a really good people watching session, but actually properly staring at them? To the extent that at the end of the day, when you’re lying in bed, you will remember what they looked like, what they were wearing, all of their features? Well unless you have fallen in love with them on first glance or have a photographic memory (lucky you), my guess would be never.
This morning on my way IN to work, I saw a man’s willy as he peed on the street for the world to see. At lunchtime I saw a man get his umbrella get stuck in a canapé above a shop and watched him struggle for at least 30 seconds (I’m a bitch for not helping). While out for drinks I saw a guy walk past with the most insane red and yellow hair that I’ve ever seen. And despite the fact I remember these three instances, I could not tell you for the life of me what any of these men actually looked like. I could not pick them out of a line up (if they all had hats on anyway, for obvious reasons!). They all made enough of an impression on me that, as I write this in bed, I can recall them but it seems I just can’t find the energy to care quite enough to remember everything about them.
And so what do we think the chances are of someone remembering a girl in a crop-top that they saw for three stops on the Piccadilly Line at roughly 7O’Clock? Minuscule. But for argument’s sake let’s just say that they do remember me. Well, on their way to work tomorrow they’ll probably see someone pissing in a bin and forget all about me anyway, so it’s a win/win.
The pressure on us girls is massive and it’s often very difficult for us to give ourselves a break, even for a minute. We can quite often be a bit inward thinking and as a result, we make the assumption that everyone cares as much about the way that we look as we do, but that is not even slightly the case. We spend our whole lives comparing ourselves to other people. We are constantly showered with ‘advice’ on how we can better ourselves and as a result we allow ourselves to feel that we are not good enough. But it is so worth remembering a couple of things the next time you feel that the world is staring daggers at you.
1) They’re so busy worrying about themselves right now that they have no time to worry about you. Sorry. Not sorry.
2) You’re not, in the grand scheme of their life, all that important and so, if by some miracle, they do end up judging you for more than a split second, you need to remember that they probably do have too much time on their hands.
3) You are your own toughest critic and you would do well to remember that, relax and to give yourself a break.
Sadly, killer confidence is not something that we can just get. We can’t pay for it and we won’t find it hidden under the sofa cushions. But that’s not to say it’s something that we’ll never have. I am hopeful that one day soon we will ALL be ready to stand up and say ‘yes please, come at me world, I’m the best’. This is not an unachievable goal, it’s really not. But if we stand a chance of making this happen we are going to need to start by forbidding our moods to change simply because of our outfits, we’re going to need to uncross our arms and acknowledge that really, there isn’t anyone staring at us.