A reader on my design blog asked this question.
"A quick, personal question for you: Do you think that worrying about what people think has any place in a creative person's life? I find myself caring so much that it affects what I do or don't do, from tattoos to telling my family I still plan on going to school when I have zero desire or need for it because I feel like it makes them happy. I appreciate your thoughts and perspective. Thank you."
The short answer is mostly no.
It is dependent on the situation. If most people think you’re an asshole, there is a high likelihood that you are one. If you decide not to get a tattoo in this case, you will still be an asshole, just without a tattoo. You should work on that.
But what I am sure you are asking is if you should concern yourself with what others might think of your life decisions.
The longer answer.
The pain of being human is that we are simultaneously told to be yourself yet have an evolutionary survivalist need to be part of a tribe.
If we can externalize success, we can externalize failure and avoid blaming ourselves for the latter. Seeking outside validation simply reinforces the idea that we do not (or realistically, do not want to) control our own lives.
If you wish to prove this false, tomorrow morning turn off your phone. Stay in bed, do not call in sick and see if your mom, friends or that stranger you’re worried about fills in for you. Time to start looking for a new job.
You wake up in the morning as you. You go through the day as you. You go to bed as you. Nobody is going to be you for you.
I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I want my parents to be proud of me. But I know that they do not know what it is like as an asian male designer in his late 20s, living in New York City in 2013.
The reality that you are to blame for your unhappiness and your failures sucks. The beauty of this realization is that it also means you are also to blame for your happiness and success.
The only suggestion I can give you is to be a good person. This is not the same as being a nice person.
A nice person would let a down on their luck friend crash at their place, even if it drags out for a month, despite not paying rent.
A good person would let a down on their luck friend crash for a week and then tell them they have to stop feeling sorry for themselves and get their shit together.
Saying no to ideas and people is hard. You will hurt feelings and it will lead to some resentment. They’ll get over it, trust me. And if they for some reason can’t, you’ve just proven that they are the type of person you should say no to in the first place.