Don’t be a sponge, be a Spongebob!
“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.”
― Lao Tzu
We all inherently care for others, but the extent to which we do determines its impact on us. Ever since childhood, we crave validation, acceptance and recognition, because our need to be pro-social drives us to appease others and in turn feel accepted by them. The need for validation first begins at home – from our parents/guardians, then our extended family, then from our society, and so on. In this process, all of us have at some point or the other come across the Ricks to our Morty – who irk us and whose words might form a running commentary in our heads. These negative comments often inhibit us from taking certain decisions in fear of further backlash that we may face. This affects our self-esteem and self-concept and also has the power to shape our mood.
While our ability to feel makes us human, where do we draw the line on how much we let these feelings affect us? Worry, anxiety, insecurity – these are all results of feeling too much, isn’t it? Holding onto negative emotions not only hurts us mentally and physically, but it also robs us of the power to lead our life in our own terms. Bottom line: It does you no good. I mean, if everyone lived their lives caring about what the world had to say then would we be able to do anything at all? When Aladdin pretended to be Prince Ali, even the all-powerful Genie couldn’t make everyone like him!
We become so accustomed to criticisms and ridicule that we end up losing faith in our own selves. At times we become so tired of the long and continuous fight for our rights to ‘just be’, that we put on that mask, kill our aspirations and desires as our confidence and self esteem has been trampled over and we presume that it is an everlasting continuum of the same. Nicole Kidman, in an interview once said, “How do I stay human and vulnerable and real, and how do I, at the same time, not let all this affect me?” Either we let the bad stuff exit our minds or we allow them to take up permanent residence in our hearts.
Being sensitive is a quality that reflects our self-awareness and empathy, however, if we allow it to take over each and every facet of our personality, then we’ll never be able to live in the moment. Especially in the age of social media, when it’s very easy for people to intrude in our lives, it’s important to be resilient at heart. There’ll always be that neighbour aunty, maybe a certain ‘Mrs Sharma’, whose interests and hobbies are to stay alert to everything their neighbour’s children do, just so she can find a fault or two in an attempt to validate her own misjudgements. All this criticism and ridicule tramples over our self-esteem and confidence, ultimately breaking our hearts and dreams.
Which is why it is important for us to create a filter to segregate the constructive criticisms that would help us grow as individuals, from all the other ‘taane’ that people want to throw at us. I mean, would you order from just any restaurant because of some ad that you saw? Or would you spend time going through ratings, recommendations and menus to order the perfect meal for yourself? Considering how picky we can be about our Swiggy and Zomato choices, it seems funny to think that we blindly accept others’ opinions, especially when unsolicited. Maybe it’s time to learn a little from the likes of SpongeBob with his optimistic, glass-half-full attitude that fills his life with fun and adventure.
It’s not an easy switch to make. It’s not like we can wake up one day and suddenly be all ‘Who gives a flying duck?’ It does require a little effort, a little determination and a lot of optimism. But in the long run, the people who benefit the most will be us, and all things considered, anything that makes life a little easier to live deserves to be welcomed with open arms
I mean think about it: Dhoni did not just become Captain Cool by wearing his thoughts and feelings on his sleeve. He was the man that was least bothered about his image and showed very little to no interest in what the world had to say about him. And even after the backlash he faced for reforming the team, he believed in his own intellect and planning, and successfully won the World Cup for us. This shows that if we believe in ourselves and in our dreams and convictions, no matter what other people say, the journey to growth becomes far simpler and successful.
We’d feel much better when we start accepting ourselves for who we are and stop looking at ourselves through other people’s lenses. Let those extra unnecessary and completely ridiculous opinions go as they are not worth our time – they are balderdash! We don’t have to appease others or align our ways to fit with theirs. We don’t need to be perfect. We just need to love, respect and accept the flawed perfection that is US!
And sometimes what this journey needs is a little love, support and guidance—could be from a mentor, a friend/s and even family—so that we become better versions of ourselves. People that will pull us up each time we fall; people who’ll stick by us come what may. For Ishaan in Taare Zameen Par, it was his art teacher, who helped him become more resilient, brave and strong. For me, it was two lovely people R and Z. They showed me love and acceptance like no other and became my cheerleaders for life. So find out who those people are for you. And be the same for them.
All of you, each and every single one of you reading this, if you have at any point in your life felt like a sponge, then fight hard to become a spongebob!