Nobody is Looking at You
When I first moved from New York to Los Angeles, I had to adjust to a completely different way of living. Los Angeles and the west coast lifestyle...is very different from New York and the east coast lifestyle.
But there was one behavior in Los Angeles that was new to me and it made me quite uncomfortable. It seemed that no matter where I was -- a bookstore, Baja Fresh, car wash -- people were looking at me.
At first I thought it might have something to do with the fact that I was still sporting my best New York black wardrobe even on an 80 degree day. This thought caused my insecurities to come pouring out -- did I look strange? Was I too pale? Was black a bad color choice for me?
So, I changed my wardrobe. I went to Fred Segal, the most expensive, overpriced store in Los Angeles, and I bought $2500 (yes twenty-five-hundred dollars) worth of extremely trendy clothes. Nobody would be looking at me now, cause I'd fit in perfectly.
But people kept looking.
Then I realized it must be my haircut. I'd been rockin' an 80's soccer mullet for a decade too long. This was the land of slick, beautiful people, and I clearly looked as though I'd stepped out of a Loverboy video.
So, I went to Beverly Hills and got a $125 haircut. Remember this is nearly 15 years ago, $125 was really pricey. George Clooney had a very short haircut at the time and that's what I wanted my hair to look like, but I knew I didn't look like George Clooney so instead I just said, "whatever you think" to the dude with the scissors.
This very nice guy proceeded to cut my hair in a way that I can only describe as "poodle-like." It was short on the sides and kinda long and poofy on top. I felt that I looked ridiculous but then again, I was in a Beverly Hills salon so I was pretty sure that once I got used to it, I'd see what everybody else would see – Fred Segal clothes and a sharp new haircut was the perfect LA combo for me.
Yeah, you guessed it. People kept looking.
So now I'm starting to go a bit bonkers. Why are they still looking? Are they looking at my new clothes and wondering where I got them or how I afforded them? Are they looking at my new haircut? Wondering where I got it or why I allowed it? Or are they still looking at me because they can tell I just moved here and they don't want me in their town? What is wrong with me?!
It wasn't long before I completely lost my mind over this absurd situation. I was second-guessing everything about myself. Not just my clothes or my hair, but also my chosen profession (entertainment, but long before 'Survivor'), my choice of car (an old Rodeo SUV), my house in Woodland Hills (way too far from the "action"), even my pager (yes, this was before cell phones were popular).
I would have been willing to change everything about me if I thought it would help me to fit in better because I was certain I was being judged. I could feel it. Why else would everybody be looking at me?
Then one day it hit me. I'm still not sure what connected the dots, but once I realized the truth it changed everything.
Yes, I was correct in observing that people were looking at me. They were. But I was wrong in the conclusion I had drawn. People were not looking at me in judgment...people were not evaluating me in any way. People were only looking at me to see if I was looking at them!
It all made sense. I was in Hollywood! The land where everyone is waiting to be discovered. This is one of the few places where people love having other people stare at them. It typically means there is something special about you.
What a fool I'd been. I had spent months of energy, thousands of dollars, and countless sleepless nights worrying about what others thought of me, when the truth is, nobody cared.
They were merely expending their own energy hoping I was looking at them.
All my concerns over "fitting in" spoke only to my own narcissism and had nothing to do with any other truth.
Today's long winded offering: Nobody is looking at you.
Go about your day. Live as you want. Do what you desire. Nobody cares.
We're all too busy worrying what you're thinking about us to care what we think about you.