Bright: No one really cares about you, and that’s amazing

Zach Bright, Assistant Opinion Editor

I am so different from who I was last year and even further from who I was two years ago in high school. That’s not just the caption to my finsta post of Elizabeth Warren and her dog dressed in a pink wig from last Sunday night. How I carry myself today and the social growth that brought me here has been substantial.

This certainly wasn’t helped by the fact that I went to a public school that enrolled second graders through high school seniors. At this child menagerie, everyone knew everyone, likely all the way back to when they were seven. Having started in third grade myself, I found this environment caused me to stagnate socially. I constantly found myself worried about how others perceived me down to who I hung out with to how I looked.

So I guess that makes Northwestern my personal middle school.

No matter your background, everyone knows college life can be overwhelming, even after you think you’ve acclimated to it. Insecurity and impostor syndrome can run rampant when you’re surrounded by thousands of other talented and unique students. Doing your best becomes harder and harder when your benchmark for it is based off your peers’ successes, not just academically, but socially and emotionally as well.

This was something I struggled with during my first year here. Thrown into a new social environment, I still stressed out over what people thought of me. But a year later, I’ve really taken to heart some advice that has really changed what I do and how I act.

Paraphrased, it’s something like this: “No one really cares about you, and that’s amazing.”

I don’t mean this in the sense that there aren’t people out there who love and support you. Rather, realize that you are the person who thinks about yourself the most, whether those thoughts are positive or negative. That’s because most everyone is concerned with themselves above all others, and rightfully so.

So what’s the point of outsourcing your validation?

Why bother worrying about what people think of you when they’re busy thinking about themselves?

The people you really care about will care about you too. The opinions of those who don’t shouldn’t occupy your head space.

This isn’t to say that social pressures are all bad, your peers’ opinions are meaningless, and you should throw away modesty or humility. What that does mean is self-confidence does not equal being overconfident. I’ve found that focusing on feeling comfortable with who I am and what I believe has helped me

For instance, if someone were to compliment me on what I’m wearing, and that’s something I’ve put a good deal of thought into and like as well, I’m going to say thanks, full stop.

Why bother deflecting something that I agree with?

Ultimately, while kind words are nice, it doesn’t matter what other people think about you or what you do. Take this a step further: advocate for yourself, because no one else is going to do that for you. If you want something, express it. If you genuinely think you deserve something, make that case.

At the end of the day, you should really care about yourself because you’re what’s really amazing.

Zach Bright is a Medill Sophomore. They can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.