Who are they, anyway?

I’ve grown out of it now, but for six months following grade 12, I was plagued by nightmares of Miss Piggy.

Perhaps it was because I was nearly suspended from high school. Perhaps it was because I lost my best friend. Or perhaps it was because I was faced with a real-life example of the absurd value people place in reputation. Either way, I haven’t seen Jim Henson’s Muppets in the same light since.

The fiasco began when a high school magazine two friends and I edited ran a photo of Miss Piggy attached to an article penned by my best friend.

This was not a mistake. The layout editor had, in a burst of creativity, decided to bestow an alternative identity on every writer.

But our Miss Piggy was not tickled pink. It was a conspiracy, she charged. We had purposely sought to mortify her and trod her name through the mud.

Unfortunately, the evidence weighed against us.

First and foremost, she insisted we had personally selected the loud-mouthed prima donna for her photo with malicious intent—I actually thought the pearl-loving pig was a babe! Second, her article was printed on the page directly beside an article I had written. Go figure my photo would be a buxom cartoon bunny. Third, by titling her article “D.E.C.A. Sales Pitch,” her mother informed our principal that we were pimpin’ her out, selling her body and calling her a whore.

Our friendship was over. I was none too impressed by the event and unhappy that some of our common friends never believed the incident was unintentional. Luckily, the principal realized the whole affair was ridiculous and dropped the notion of suspension.

But things had changed, and once my urge to call out “Suey!” when I saw her in the halls subsided, I mainly felt sorry for her.

We had been friends since grade six, yet I can only presume it was humiliation that drove her to instantly turn the three of us into scapegoats. The matter was trivial, yet she must have felt that failing to take action would have made her a laughing stock. It’s precisely that self-conscious, obsessive concern about the opinions of others with which I take issue.

I’ve heard that in your lifetime, only eight people will ever really love you. While this sounds harsh, ponder this: after your funeral, how many people will think about you even once a month in the following years?

My point is straightforward. While our daily interactions with others are characterized by a slew of tacit judgments, most are fleeting. And those individuals who choose to articulate their impressions are usually shallow and just trying to hide their own insecurities. In order to combat my imagination from putting too much stock in what other people might be thinking, I have a personal philosophy I’d like to share: you choose how you feel, you choose how you act and you choose who you are.

So the next time you’re too apprehensive to speak your mind, or biting your nails over some sexual intellectual, I implore you to question: who are they, anyway?

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