On some days your walk, your hair, your outfit…it all feels right.

Witty lines spews from your face no matter how intimidating the intended recipient might be. Eye contact with the opposite sex comes so naturally that you would swear you had a soundtrack playing in the background.

You own days like these. You seize them; you harness such days and make them your bitch. It’s as if you held the handle of one of those leashes that disenchanted parents put on their awful, yet most likely rightfully disobedient children, except that instead of a small, spoiled child at the end of your leash, restrained at your will is your oft unruly life.

I actually saw one of those mother-child combos at West County Mall on Saturday, but the leash wasn’t working. The child was an absolute animal and there was no containing it. Therefore I ask you to take the analogy for what it is worth.

Life is seldom anything but challenging, but some days offer the heavenly illusion that we have a degree of control.  

It was on such a day that, coincidentally, I was walking through a different mall, shoulders back and head held high, when two reasonably attractive girls helped usher me into a new gateway of personal growth.

While walking past them, one of the girls smiled at me. I politely smiled back. Once behind me, she made a comment to her friend loud enough so that I could hear her.

“He was hot.”

Her friend, equally conspicuous, replied, 

“Not really.”

It has become cliché to acknowledge to others how little one cares about what others think. I would even go a step further and say that, for many people, doing so is little more than a protective countermeasure to the contrary.

By vocalizing this falsehood, one can potentially deflect future criticism and attention away from themselves, causing those who wish to criticize others (ironically, usually in an effort to deflect criticism away from themselves) toward targets more susceptible to their analysis.

Follow me?

In other words, all of us, to a greater or lesser extent, do care what others think…the exception being most sociopaths and the occasional big, lovable, black woman.

It’s graduating to the point that you realize it is ok to care about the opinions of others, so long as those wielding said opinions have earned your respect and/or credibility. This is crucial. 

And also difficult.

Some realize the importance of this and still never get there. Many, for many reasons beyond my understanding of psychology, never even try. Others spend their lives seeking the acceptance of those most reluctant to give it, then, upon getting it, move on to others who are even more reluctant to give it. This seems as common as it is absurd.   

For a very long time I had given an inordinate amount of credence to the thoughts and opinions of others regarding who I was and who I was not. It took these two girls lifting me up and then cutting me down for me to arrive at the realization that helped change my perspective.

To some, you’re hot…to others, not really.       

Suddenly, not walking up to a girl I was interested in for fear of rejection just seemed stupid.

I mean, who was she to me at that point? Were we characters in some crappy, idealistic, romantic comedy all of a sudden? When had I decided to become Matthew fucking McConaughey? 

No previously unknown female prospect I could recall had ever earned the right to bestow upon me her judgment just by being someone I wanted to sleep with or date. They were just girls. Girls I thought were hot. Girls some other guy might think, not really.

The core of my crystallizing epiphany began to come into focus. It was so simple. Until a person had earned my respect or achieved undeniable credibility, under no circumstance did it make sense for me to take their criticism or their rejection personally. 

Fucking liberating, my friends.

But, again, take it for what it's worth. 

J. Adams is a freelance writer and creator of The Man Hole section. Your criticism and comments are more than welcomed, so follow him on Twitter via @Intangiball or email him at justin@intangiball.com 

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DJ Gelner
# DJ Gelner
Thursday, September 15, 2011 8:44 PM
Very good stuff, sir; I agree completely. I've always been way too much of a "people-pleaser," worrying about what other people would think of me, but that's (thankfully) going by the wayside as I try to be more proactive in living the life that I want to live going forward. Everyone else? Well, if they're a net negative, they can fuck right off...

Keep up the good work, Justin--this is a great section, and sorely needed in this city, especially at this point in time.
# Sargent_Shrivler
Friday, September 30, 2011 11:56 AM
what the hell is this about?
J. Adams
# J. Adams
Saturday, October 01, 2011 11:49 AM
Again..thanks for reading.

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