"I wish I could be one of those people who don't care what other people think," said the girl on Twitter. (I'm paraphrasing - she actually said 'don't give a fuck' - but you get the idea.)
It was a casual comment that resonated deeply with me. Because I have often wished I could be one of those people, too. It would probably be a less painful way to live. But I know I never will be one of those people, and I know that you won't be either.
You know why?
Because no-one is truly one of those people. Everyone, absolutely everyone, cares what other people think.
Some people wear their hearts on their sleeve. You know they are sensitive, you know they worry about how they are perceived, and you know that they are easily wounded. And then there are the people who look confident, who look like they've got it all together, who look like they have never doubted themselves in their lives. These are the people who look for all the world like they don't give a fuck what other people think.
Do not be fooled. Because I promise you, they do.
Of course, they may not care what everyone thinks. I certainly don't. I don't care, for example, what strangers think of me. I go to the supermarket in tracksuit pants and pull giant tubs of Nutella from the shelf while yelling at my four year old. And I don't care whether other people think I'm a haggard, gluttonous bad mother, because I don't know them, and I'll never see them again in my life.
I also don't particularly care what distant acquaintances think of me, or how I am regarded by people I don't like. If I don't like someone, I don't care if they don't like me, because I place no value on the relationship.
I do, however, care deeply what my friends think of me. I care deeply what the people I admire think of me. I care deeply what my family think of me. And though I don't care if I am regarded poorly by the occasional blog reader, or book buyer, or Twitter follower, or Facebook friend, if they all started criticising or disliking me en masse, I would be crushed. Of course I would. Absolutely crushed.
That confident person you're thinking of right now, who says whatever she wants and doesn't give a damn what the world thinks? She does. I can absolutely assure you, she does. She has people she cares desperately about, people she wants to impress, a posse whose validation she craves. If she is on social media, she wants to be followed. If she has a friends, she wishes to be liked. If she is famous, she wants to retain her fame. If she is popular, she wants to stay popular. And if she's controversial, she wants to be that, too.
Do not confuse perception with reality. Because no-one is an island. Even the confident have insecurities. Even the successful need approval. And even the famous want to be loved. (Actually, especially the famous want to be loved, but that's another story.)
So don't think you're odd for caring what other people think of you, and for goodness sake, don't try to change. Because if you don't care what people think, then, well, you've stopped caring. And if you really don't care, you can't be cared for in return.
And whilst that might be a slightly less painful way to live, it certainly would be a great deal less happy, too.