No one ever pays much attention to anyone else. Most people are entirely self–absorbed.
This can be a good thing.
When I was about twenty years old, I read a tiny article in a Readers Digest magazine that changed the way I looked at myself. It made me reassess all those stupid, inconsequential social mistakes that I’d made in the past; the social embarrassments I was sure other people remembered, that still kicked dents in my self-esteem.
It made me realise the only person who noticed them at all was me.
“Lecturer Dr Ken Savitsky asked one group (of college students) to wear t-shirts with an embarrassingly large photo of Barry Manilow to class. Students predicted that around half their classmates would notice, in reality, less than a quarter paid any attention.”
No one cares that you totally dig Barry Manilow. Or that you fell up the stairs in ninth grade. Or said something rampantly inappropriate to someone you’d just met. No one cares that you cried in the middle of Woolies, or forgot to dress your kid in mufti clothes.
In reality, I don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about what other people do. So why would they be thinking about me?
The only person who pays that much attention to you… is you.
The article struck me so profoundly I cut and pasted it into one of my notebooks. The other clipping on the page is, if I remember correctly, from a That’s Life magazine. Clippings and notebook circa 2002.
Click to embiggen.