Something I do every morning with my coffee is checking out what’s new on Humans Of New York. If you’ve never heard of this page before, well, you have no idea what you’re missing and I would recommend you drop everything this instant and go get emotional. It’s kind of a rollercoaster really, sometimes I end up crying first thing in the morning, other times I get angry, however, today I felt determined and empowered. I stumbled upon an Indian lady’s story that goes like this:

I grew up in India where a woman got married, settled down, and kept a house. I never thought I’d do anything different. I lived a very sheltered existence. I went to a British school, then a women’s college, and then I met my husband. I assumed that I’d be taken care of for the rest of my life. But shortly after we came to America, my husband slipped into a coma and lingered for another fifteen years. We had a small child at the time. I’d never worked before, except for a part-time job in the bookshop at the Met. I was a very quiet person. And suddenly I had to make all of the decisions. I had to get a full time job. It was empowering. I learned that I could be fearless, I could be angry, and I could fight. These were three things that I’d never had to do before. I was thinking recently, that if my husband had lived, he might not have liked who I’ve become.

It gave me goosebumps and it made me feel so, so proud of our capacity to adapt, our strength and our determination to surpass our limits. Feeling empowered is one of the most amazing sensations in the world and every single step you take to get there deserves to be celebrated. You might think only overpassing huge challenges can take you there, however, as with everything else, it’s all in your mindset. All you need to do is learn to be proud of your journey, not only of the outcome. Who knows, there are goals that we might never reach, however just the fact that we’re doing the best we can and working our butts off to get there is empowering. So it overcoming a fear, no matter how small it is.

A few years ago you wouldn’t have caught me going out dressed like this – over my dead body. Obviously, not because I had a different style, but because I would’ve been too afraid to. Afraid that people would stare at me, that they would judge me or laugh at me. Finally reaching the point in which you simply don’t care anymore is absolutely liberating. Sure, I still have days in which I wish I could go about my business unnoticed, however I am not afraid of their judgement anymore. I even find the fact that I used to be silly now – come on, how in the world does a total stranger’s opinion really matter? How can you let it affect you so much that you refrain from dressing or acting the way you want to? It is silly, it really is. It’s easy to say that now, however, I did not forget how hard it was to actually get over it. If you’re in the same boat as I used to be, let me share some of the things that helped me become more confident and care less:

  1. First of all, if you don’t want to be judged, stop judging people. The energy you put out in the world attracts the same kind of energy. There’s no way things are going to get better if you’re constantly feeling frustrated or being mean, after all, the way we think becomes the way we behave. Switch to a positive attitude, instead of looking for flaws, look for the bright side of every situation.
  2. Don’t expect people to stop judging you, because they won’t. It would be really naive of us to hope that we’ll live in a world where people won’t judge. It’s in our human nature. Get used to the idea that no matter what you do, there will still be someone out there who will judge you for it. “Ok and how’s that helping me, Patricia?!”. Coming to terms with the problem is the first step in solving it, right? Once you made peace with the thought that you’re going to be judged no matter how hard you try to please everyone, you’ll stop wanting to be a people-pleaser and eventually, you’ll learn to tune in and listen only to the opinions that matter.
  3. The people you’re passing by on the street are probably thinking the exact same thing. Truth is, we’re not that special, nor different. There’s a very big chance that the girl you’re just passing by is not judging your messy hair, but is fearfully wondering about the judgement you’re passing about her.
  4. Get to know yourself better, appreciate your values and work on your flaws. This is pretty much self explanatory. The more effort you put into working on yourself, the more self confident and empowered you will feel. Nothing good can come out of indulging and wallowing in self pity, or giving in and settling with less than you can be.
  5. Set small goals and celebrate each time you reach one. Afraid of going on heels to school? Be proud of yourself if you do. Managed to not give in to that piece of cake? Great job! Finally mustered the courage to go to the gym? You go, girl! Always, always, always bring yourself up, be proud and happy with who you are. Don’t put yourself down, there’s enough people out there who are trying to do that already. You HAVE to be the first one who’s on your own team.