Why You Shouldn’t Care What Others Think About You

Why You Shouldn’t Care What Others Think About You

By |2016-07-01T10:24:45-04:00June 25th, 2014|Personal Stuff, Perspectives, Travel Tips & Advice|63 Comments

What Others Think About You
The day I started enjoying my travels the most was the day I stopped worrying about my hair. You see, an old girlfriend of mine used to tell me that I was much worse than her mother and grandmother combined, referring to the amount of time it would take me to get ready every time I was about to go outside. I could shower quickly and I could throw my clothes on in a flash, but for some reason, I would always get stuck in front of the mirror, carefully manipulating every single curl on my head, making sure each of those curls was in its proper place before I would dare head out into the public world.

Ridiculous, I know. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time, or maybe I did, but I still couldn’t help myself.

The bottom line is that I truly believed that people cared, that people would stare, that people would judge, that they would point and laugh at me if one of my curls was sticking out in an imperfect position. And that led to even more problems as I would walk around wondering if I was going to trip on a rock or if I had some schmutz on my face or if I would say something so dumb that everyone within a 1 km radius would laugh uncontrollably at my stupidity.

To say I was self-conscious is an understatement. I remember my brain spending much more time wondering what everyone around me was thinking when they walked past me than focusing on what I was experiencing during my travels. I knew what was happening but, again, I couldn’t change.

Breaking News – Nobody Cares!
Shocking, I know, but it actually turns out that nobody gives a damn. Nobody cares what I look like, nobody is paying me any attention, nobody is pointing or staring or laughing, and if they are pointing or staring or laughing, who cares? I probably do have some shaving cream or pancake batter (I love my pancakes!) on my face on occasion and I most certainly walk into walls from time to time as well. But hey, everyone has stuff on their face at some point, everyone trips in the middle of the street, everyone gets lost and does something silly, everyone has those moments that provide others with an opportunity to point and stare.

And if you’re afraid to have all of that happen to you, which is, basically, to be human, it’s going to be very difficult to travel among all of those strangers out there, navigating places you are not familiar with, putting yourself in so many situations where you might feel as if you will do something wrong or look absurd.

On the other hand, if you can shrug it all off and realize that what others think about you really isn’t important and that, in the end, nobody is even observing you as much as you might think (apart from that one guy I came across in Beirut), suddenly you’ll be able to enjoy your travels on a level that you simply can’t imagine otherwise.

A Mirror

What If There’s No Mirror?
I remember the day clearly. I was in Chiang Mai, Thailand and I had just checked into my budget guesthouse room after an overnight bus ride. Before long I had taken a shower and put on some clean clothes and because I was hungry, I wanted to go out and get some food at the local food market. Before I could go outside though, I naturally needed to spend some time in front of the mirror.

But wait, where was the mirror? There was no mirror in the bathroom, no mirror on the back of the room door or on the wall or in the closet. No mirror anywhere at all.

And just like that, due to something so simple as a lack of a mirror, my life changed. For some reason, on this very day, without any way to check on the status of all the curls on my head, no way to make sure that my face was free of schmutz, I just shrugged my shoulders and said, “Screw it, I’m going out anyway”.

Will you believe it when I tell you that nothing terrible happened that day? Nobody came up to me and said, “Your hair is a mess, you look ridiculous, how could you possibly walk around in public looking like that?” Nobody even noticed me or seemed to pay attention to me for more than half a second and even then, only when we practically bumped into each other in the crowded streets.

After walking for about thirty minutes, I eventually sat down at a food stall and ordered some khao pad sai kai jaew, fried rice with a fried egg on top. And soon enough, as I ate that meal, I felt the sensation of having been liberated.

I just didn’t care what I looked like. I didn’t care what others thought of me. I no longer cared if people did stare and laugh or if I did make silly mistakes and look foolish. That nagging feeling that I was constantly under inspection from all those I encountered was gone and I felt superb. My confidence grew immediately, and I found myself interacting with more people, observing so much more around me and just feeling so much better overall, yes, starting that very day.

It hasn’t let up since.

Do I still stop in front of the mirror every now and then? I most certainly do. There are a few curls that can be so unruly that I just like to pop them back into place on occasion but that’s about it. I’m ready to venture outside no matter what, excited to see where my travels will take me, excited that my ex-girlfriend’s mother and grandmother are back on top of the list, taking far longer than I to get their hair ready before heading out the door.

Actually, I can only assume that last statement to be true. Maybe they’ve changed as well. I haven’t talked to that girlfriend in years.

Do you worry what others think about you or become self-conscious when you travel around? If you haven’t started traveling yet, do you think this would be a concern?

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  1. […] Why you shouldn’t care what others think about you […]

  2. Claudia July 4, 2015 at 9:31 am - Reply

    I must be the most confident woman on earth. I actually even go out in my pajama at times, without having even brushed my hair at all. I just… don’t care! I would care, but then I am too lazy to worry about having to change just to go to the store, when I know I will be back before anybody can even notice that yes, those that I am wearing are pajama pants. I promise I do shower, brush my hair and dress up. I even put make up on every now and then. But if there is something I don’t mind when I travel, it is not having a mirror. I never got how some women look perfect even when they go to the gym or on a hike. Meh. I think I’d rather be seen at my worst to then sprout in all my beauty than the other way around!

  3. Virginia April 27, 2015 at 11:17 pm - Reply

    I felt pretty self conscious at the beginning of a three month solo trip last year.. “How will I start conversations with people and make friends?” (was always a pretty shy person) “Do I totally stick out being in this place by myself?” Lots of niggling questions, but it only really took one friendly person to come and say hello in a hostel common room, we went and saw some things together and had so much fun! Then the next day I saw someone else sitting alone in the common room, so I decided to go say hi (I was never confident enough to do this back home) and invite them out for the day, another great day, a great 3 months, wonderful friendships made and hands down most important and self revealing experience of my life! Everyone just wants someone to say hi to them, you have no idea the positive impact you can have on someone’s life by being there and being interested in them. One person showed me that and I haven’t doubted myself since!

  4. Saeed Ahmed January 11, 2015 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    Iam going through the time that I’m taking actions to stop caring about others. I have been using hair gel for the last 10 years and I don’t remember a day out of my house with a hair gel on my hair. My action to stop caring about others was to stop using a hair gel and going to work without it. I was surprised to see that no one has even mentioned about my hair style and it really felt good to be leberated from the presion of other people thinkings. My hair was the first step my next steps are r9 atop caring about what people think on my clothes, my opinion, my accent, my sence of humor, my origion and what I like and dislike. I realised the less I care the better I perform. I must get my life back.

  5. Dave K August 11, 2014 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    Good stuff! A piece of wisdom for everyone, not just travelers. I have finally gotten to the point in my life, where I really don’t care too much what others think about me and I agree, it’s liberating. Of course, one needs a certain degree of hygiene to avoid becoming a malodorous slob who nobody wants to associate with.

  6. Andrea Anastasiou July 27, 2014 at 1:14 pm - Reply

    I love how travel liberates me from a lot of this. I remember during my first trip to Thailand, I barely wore make-up (which was a big thing for me back then), never used my hair straighteners, and wore nothing else other than tank tops and shorts the whole time. No one gave a damn, and since then I find myself caring less and less about what others think!

  7. George Bezushko July 9, 2014 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    “You wouldn’t care so much about what people think about you if you realized how little they thought about you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt….(Great minds thinking alike?)

  8. Kathy July 7, 2014 at 12:08 am - Reply

    Earl I love this post… its so true… I often end up doing things or not doing things cause I think about what others will think. That’s why I love traveling, I always end up being more myself.

  9. Traveling_Pat June 29, 2014 at 12:09 pm - Reply

    Anyways, if you care too much about what others think of you, you might never leave home for a great, adventurous long-term trip!

    And that would be the end of your travel before it`s even started.

    So not caring too much about what others think is essential to break the general and common life-cycle and start and realize your own projects; which could be the big travel you maybe always wished to do.

    Greets from Uzbekistan

  10. Zoe Osborne Sketchpacker June 29, 2014 at 5:48 am - Reply

    Would you say that, ironic as it is, as soon as you stop caring about how you look you suddenly become that much more attractive?

    Since I started travelling I feel like I’ve become rather hobbit-like: slapping a jumper on over those shorts I’ve been wearing for…not sure how long now, leaving the zits on my face to grin at the world because I just don’t feel the need to keep them quiet, etc. And I literally have more friends in the countries I’ve wandered through than back at home, with its draw full of concealer and wardrobe of fresh pants, where I’ve lived half my life!

    I think there’s something magnetic about a person who doesn’t care. I have to say they’re much much more interesting to draw! I met a little girl like this yesterday in Saigon actually, her smile was so incredibly honest I just had to ask her if I could draw her. I gave her a copy and kept the other for my blog!

  11. Echo Santos June 29, 2014 at 12:32 am - Reply

    I guess its a must to be hygienic even on the road but vanity has no room in my book 😀

  12. Alice June 28, 2014 at 9:19 am - Reply

    I’m actually less self-conscious when I travel. It may be because I’m pretty sure I won’t bump into someone I know. This takes a toll on my phostos, though.

  13. Betty June 27, 2014 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry. Didn’t realize I had written a novel!

    • Wandering Earl June 28, 2014 at 9:35 am - Reply

      Hey Betty – But a good novel it was 🙂

  14. Betty June 27, 2014 at 9:08 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this post, Earl. Things became a whole lot more liberating for me when I realized the truth about how most people are really not staring/judging/condemning my appearance/actions/clothing. I think living in NYC helps: there could be someone skipping down Broadway in a panda suit throwing rainbow confetti in the air, and most people wouldn’t even break their stride (except for me, but only because I love pandas). What’s interesting is that sometimes I do feel much more self-conscious when I travel, especially if I’m travelling alone. I usually have a sort of “don’t worry, no one is paying attention to me” mentality, but what I’ve realized is that women, especially solo female travelers, often do get unwanted attention. It can be ignored to a point, but the reality is that sometimes there really is someone leering at you. This can happen at home too, of course, but I think the difficulty when traveling can be striking the right balance between personal comfort and respect for other cultures. I think it’s a good idea to show some cultural competency when visiting a foreign country and acknowledging that acceptable forms of dress and behavior can be quite different from what westerners are comfortable with. One example that I still think about is when I was in Morocco. I chose to dress much more conservatively than I do at home (I wore mostly long skirts and long-sleeved shirts there), and I really enjoyed my time and had nothing but positive interactions. I’m not necessarily assuming causality between how I chose to dress and my positive experience, but I will say that I did meet other female travelers who chose to wear clothing they would normally wear at home (in the U.S. or Europe) that bared their arms and shoulders (tank tops, etc.) and some of them got aggressive and sometimes nasty comments. Their experiences elicited some complicated feelings for me since they were obviously wearing what they were comfortable with and those experiences understandably, I think, impacted their trip in a negative way. The reality is that women often do have to be much more aware of what they choose to wear and how they appear, which I think is one unfair disadvantage that men don’t have to confront at the same level. I think we’re still very much living in a victim-blaming world, and women are still blamed for sexual assaults and harassment where people say they should have “known better” or were “asking for it.” I may not have chosen to dress the way others chose to in a certain context, but I don’t think it means they deserved what they got. I think travel can be such a beautiful opportunity to reach across borders and break down barriers and spread more love and compassion in the world, but wherever you go, there will be people who do not share your viewpoints. I think what’s important is maintaining respect, and hopefully having a respectful dialogue, even where there might be disagreement. I think what was tough for me was that at home, I would very much be on the side of, “people should dress however they want without being disrespected,” but when traveling, it seems much more nuanced. For example, my personal feeling is not to cause unnecessary discomfort to the locals whose country I’m visiting. But I hope that the fact that I am a solo female traveler is making a statement in itself about independence without me needing to even vocalize anything. The only other thing I would add is that depending on where I go, I will get stares and comments based on my race and ethnicity (which again, I’m really not used to coming from NYC), particularly if I’m in an area that doesn’t get many Asian tourists (the flip side is that in areas with many Asian tourists, people automatically assume I’m from China, and it’s very hard for people to understand that I’m actually from the states). Bottom line though is that the more I travel, the more I love it, and maintaining openness and not letting some of the little things nag at you makes for much more rewarding experiences. Still learning as I go!

  15. Maria Falvey June 27, 2014 at 12:20 am - Reply

    Love the tie-in to travel. Great post… yet again.

  16. Amber June 26, 2014 at 8:19 pm - Reply

    Nothing like a blog about hair to encourage people to live a more authentic life.

  17. Iggypop June 26, 2014 at 10:58 am - Reply

    Congrats, you have nice hair anyway!

  18. Dan June 26, 2014 at 10:55 am - Reply

    Respectable outlook on life, but while this may have once been revolution (like in 1950’s America) I feel that the stick may have been bent too far in the other direction at this point. Are there any Americans left who care about their personal appearance? If so, I don’t know them.

    I must admit that I’m often embarrassed by fellow Yankees when traveling, especially in poor Asian countries. The reason being that many of these American people, who come from the richest country in the world, look like they are worse off than local people who make $1 a day or so.

    After becoming pretty well immersed in local cultures in places like Vietnam, local people have asked me why so many of my compatriots in the tourist areas like Bui Vien Quan 1 HCMC “look like they are homeless” even though they have the money to travel the world. It’s a fair enough question.

    It must be odd for a Vietnam guy who drives a cyclo and earns maybe $50 a month yet has the self respect to wear a button down collared shirt and slacks and *gasp* cut his hair and shaves regularly to see someone who grew up in comparative opulence wearing dirty hippie pants and rocking three foot long dread locks and an unkempt five month beard.

    • Wandering Earl June 28, 2014 at 9:41 am - Reply

      Hey Dan – I understand what you are saying for sure. And I wasn’t implying in this post that not caring what I look like equates to dressing like a slob. I’m only talking about not caring internally as in not worrying that everyone is staring at me. I’m not talking about taking that and not caring at all what I look like to the point where I purposely look a mess! Not caring what I look like doesn’t mean looking like a mess…it just means, dressing normal, doing normal things to get ready before going outside and not being worried that someone is going to laugh because I missed one button on my shirt.

  19. Rashad Pharaon June 26, 2014 at 3:14 am - Reply

    That’s so odd, I’ve never heard of a place without a mirror in sight. It’s admirable that you took it in good stride, many wouldn’t. I used to not give a heck about the mirrors either, until someone asked if I was ok, that I looked a little run down lol

    I guess there needs to be a limit to not caring…

  20. Rachel of Hippie in Heels June 26, 2014 at 12:53 am - Reply

    I have become more and more like that- I still like to get dressed up because I’m into fashion, but I stopped caring about the rest, no makeup, ponytail and ready- living on a beach, people are much more fresh looking so I feel more comfortable & better about myself!

    • Zoe Osborne Sketchpacker June 29, 2014 at 5:53 am - Reply

      So true! The sea, salt and general slower pace of life just made me glow when I lived in Palolem, Goa. I honestly believe that when people are just honest with themselves and comfortable with that, they tend to be far more interesting. I think its an attitude hey, dressing up is fine! And fun :)) but it depends on WHY you’re doing it, perhaps?

  21. Lavi June 25, 2014 at 11:53 pm - Reply

    This post is great! So true. Most of the time when I’m staying in hostels I minimize the time I spend in the bathroom so others can use it, and so I don’t spend much time looking in the mirror. At one point a few weeks ago in India I looked in the mirror and thought, “Whoa, I haven’t seen myself in ages”. It’s a nice feeling to let go of worrying about these things; I love that judgments are all pushed to the side when traveling!

  22. Tracey June 25, 2014 at 10:08 pm - Reply

    I have definitely cared more in the past and less and less as the years keep slipping into the future. I don’t care so much now as we are traveling I am considering cutting my own hair. Luckily I am aware of my inability to cut hair well and resist despite my travel fund preserving ways:) People would stare for sure.

  23. Katie June 25, 2014 at 10:07 pm - Reply

    Great post! It’s kind of refreshing to hear this coming from a guy, too, as us girls usually get the rap for being overly concerned about what others think. 🙂

    I’ve always been super self-conscious about looks (including my frizzy curly hair) – in part because when I was younger, people did notice – and they were sure to tell me. I was teased relentlessly in junior high and into high school and even as an adult, I once had a guy in a bar tell me to stop talking to his friend because I was too ugly. It’s easy to say not to care about stuff like that, but it stings and stays with you.

    When I left to travel around the world for a year, I spent the first 9 months or so relatively concerned about my appearance – I don’t think I left the hostel/homestay/hotel without wearing makeup once. And then I got to Tajikistan, where I was staying in the mountains with a family teaching them English for a month. Suddenly it seemed silly to wear makeup or blow dry my hair just for them. Then I left and spent the next 2 months traveling all around Central Asia, camping in the desert, riding hot trains and pretty much realizing it still didn’t make sense at all to deal with makeup or doing my hair. By the end of that trip, I stopped caring.

    I wish I could say I totally took that lesson with me back home, but I find I still care too much here, where I know people. But when I’m traveling, I no longer care at all.

  24. O.J. June 25, 2014 at 9:37 pm - Reply

    This post is fantastic.
    I began losing my hair when I was 17 and it really got to me. I let it rule my life to the point that I wouldn’t let anyone see me without a hat on. Last year I decided to go traveling, ditched the hat & negative attitude and stopped the self consciousness defining me as a person.
    Traveling helps you let go and truly accept yourself for the way you are. Backpackers, for the most part, understand this and it’s such a great feeling to be around people who don’t judge you for the way you look.
    Again, great post mate!

  25. Katie @ The World on my Necklace June 25, 2014 at 8:58 pm - Reply

    I definitely don’t care when travelling, I let my frizzy curls run wild and hardly wear makeup! In my every day life though I blow dry and straighten my hair every day for work. You are definitely right though, no one cares. It just makes me feel good to present myself well when I can. As a backpacker you are expected to look casual and scruffy and I am fine with looking like that when I am travelling but when living in a big city, I enjoy wearing nice clothes and doing my hair.

  26. Kristie June 25, 2014 at 8:55 pm - Reply

    Ps I was also told by a hairdresser years ago (repeatedly) that I had the ‘worst hair she had ever seen’ so I feel your pain!

  27. Kristie June 25, 2014 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    I know exactly what you mean Earl! And it hasn’t just affected my travels and adventures…but everything else as well. There are so many things I have missed out on or refused to do or try over the years from simply being worried what people will think.
    Kinda daft when I reflect back and think of all the things I missed out on…nobody cares that I didn’t do them but me….so I really should have just got on with them.
    I’m far better these days…though it is certainly still a work in progress!

  28. Beverley | Pack Your Passport June 25, 2014 at 6:58 pm - Reply

    Something similar happened me when I was in Melbourne, Australia. I’d been working on a vineyard in country Victoria to get my second year visa and, what with working outside in high temperatures and not really seeing many people, I’d totally stopped wearing make-up. I’m stopped worrying about it, to be honest.

    THEN, I moved back to Melbourne city and, despite feeling a little self-conscious, I didn’t go straight back to wearing make-up. It was weird; I kind of just thought ‘This is my face. This is what I look like. There can’t be anything more natural.’

    I went back to wearing make-up for a bit and then, once I got a job as a barista (and had to wake up at 4am most days) I stopped again.

    Granted, I wore make-up again in Australia, and when I moved to New Zealand, and when I moved to London but, for me, it’s nice to know that I’m comfortable enough to not wear it if I don’t really feel like it.

  29. Lisa June 25, 2014 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    Something similar happened to me the first time I went over seas. I was backpacking through South East Asia, and I naturally have random curly hair. I always straighten it. And for the first time in my life I allowed myself to just let my hair do what it wanted. I stopped caring about what u looked like and allowed myself to be free. 🙂 ♡ unfortunately I came back to the states where the pressure is always on, and in a month or 2 I was right back to caring more about my image than the experiences I was having.

    • Lisa June 25, 2014 at 5:58 pm - Reply

      ***what I*** looked like lol

  30. Michael Glass June 25, 2014 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    If you want to see more of Earl’s wonderful locks, search the hashtag #EarlsAfro on Twitter. Then retweet the hell out of it 🙂

  31. Charlie June 25, 2014 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    When I went travelling 6 years ago, within the first few days I left my mascara in the toilets of the hostel I was staying at, on purpose; even waterproof mascara can’t withstand the humidity of the tropics. Within a few weeks the rest of the make-up, the hair straighteners, even the hair dryer had met the same fate. No one cared how I looked, even less so than people at home. And with every item left in dingy hostel bathroom the more free I felt. Like you, it’s travelling that made me lighten up and not care so much about what people thought.

  32. Bryan June 25, 2014 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    I learned this lesson very humorously when I forgot to pack a razor for our trip to Italy last year. My 5:00 shadow is more like a 5 minute shadow! I quickly had to adapt and not worry how harry I became. Actually, I had to learn to wet shave, and my worry soon became how spotty my face was.

  33. Charlie June 25, 2014 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    I was exactly the same. The day I realised my hair didn’t matter made my whole life WAY better, and my travels too. It sure is hard not to feel self-conscious about something though…

  34. Hannah Wasielewski June 25, 2014 at 3:20 pm - Reply

    I remember when my first solo trip abroad, I thought everyone was going to care how I looked. The I went to the Peruvian amazon for 2 weeks and saw that no one cared about their appearance or was using makeup, so why was I? That trip changed me and today I wear MUCH less makeup than I used to.

  35. Glenn I June 25, 2014 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    The summer before I transferred out of my small town to college in the city I got out the clipper and buzzed my scalp down to stubble. My mother was on a vacation so I got to shock her when she got home. My biggest discovery – I could not just live without the hair, it was a relief not to have to think about it. I’d worried so much about hair! The other major discovery – BRRR. It was cold without hair. I took to wearing a cap all the time. Even after my hair grew back. This allowed me to pretend I didn’t have hair to worry about.

  36. christian June 25, 2014 at 2:36 pm - Reply

    i agree, being consciious of ourselves is the worst habit and leads to misery. its something im always trying to fight myself.

  37. Andrea Long June 25, 2014 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    Omg Earl. You don’t even know how much I like your writing style or your perspective on life. You’re literally amazing!!! Thank you for this post, it changed the rest of my day.

    • Wandering Earl June 28, 2014 at 9:45 am - Reply

      Hey Andrea – Thanks for that, glad to have you as a reader 🙂

  38. David @ That Gay Backpacker June 25, 2014 at 2:02 pm - Reply

    In the words of the almighty RuPaul: What anybody thinks of me is really none of my business.

  39. Torre DeRoche June 25, 2014 at 1:45 pm - Reply

    Yesterday I walked around a small Spanish village for an hour, feeling sophisticated and uber chic in my swirly black dress. It wasn’t until I was strolling around in the middle of an enormous courtyard lined with busy cafés that an American woman chased after me yelling: “Your skirt is caught on your handbag! I can see your tushy!” Yes. I had spent an hour, maybe longer, flashing my underpants to an unsuspecting Spanish village. Fussing endlessly in the mirror is one thing, checking that your skirt isn’t hiked up before you leave the house is advisable.

  40. Pauline Buchanan June 25, 2014 at 1:27 pm - Reply

    I know exactly how you feel, having very curly myself and I am much older. I love your hair and what you are doing is amazing… what everyone secretly wants to do. Pauline

  41. Susun June 25, 2014 at 1:23 pm - Reply

    Great post! This reminds me of something Dr. Phil says that I love… “You wouldn’t care so much about what people think about you if you knew how little they did”. It might be something that comes with age as well (for some people lol). When were young we think everyone is looking at us or judging us in some way. Eventually we realize that the world doesn’t revolve around us and people don’t really care about what we’re doing. They are busy thinking about themselves… Maybe worried about their hair! Lol

  42. Karen June 25, 2014 at 12:39 pm - Reply

    A problem like that is part personality, part age. Young people tend to want to fit in and look ‘right’. Low self esteem will make a person suffer about what they look like. Some people are this way their entire life, externals so important. I stopped fussing in a mirror early in 20s due to the fact I was busy and no time for it. Now I am not perfect and don’t worry about it. If I look frumpy it will make others look better! I go for clean and comfortable. No worries of what do I wear, do my clothes match perfectly and is every hair in place. It is freeing. Relax. It’s okay. Really.

  43. Ashley @ Ashley Wanders June 25, 2014 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    Great post! I never worry about my appearance when traveling, and it’s a great feeling.

  44. Sugar Plam Fairy June 25, 2014 at 11:38 am - Reply

    I don’t understand… the hair? Really? Why would you worry about your hair? That hair is ICONIC! Surprised it doesn’t have its own reality show or a Pantene commercial by now. Let’s call Nivea- big in Europe. And make a fan page. I bet everyone here agrees:)

    Now on another note…my turning point was brought by a teacher, a brilliant woman who told me once (a super self-conscious trans-Atlantic transplant desperately trying to fit-in) “just think how much you think of other people- 30 seconds, 10 seconds? And then you forget…you go back to your own stuff because you don’t care. That’s how much time they spend thinking about you and your disproportionately long arms, funny years, freckles or whatever.” Wise lady, I know.

    Glad you left your hair alone, Earl. Now…back to the fan page:)

    • Wandering Earl June 28, 2014 at 9:47 am - Reply

      @Sugar Plum Fairy – Haha…I think I need to grow it way out again!

  45. Tyler June 25, 2014 at 11:34 am - Reply

    Really great post. We’re all hard-wired to put ourselves as the most important part of the universe, to put our needs and desires and peccadillos at the top of the list. But, as you say, once you can shift these self-aggrandizing thoughts to the side, a whole new side of the world opens up. Smiles, thank you’s, and genuineness go a lot farther in the everyday-world than perfectly coiffed hair and sparkly white teeth.

  46. Alana June 25, 2014 at 11:15 am - Reply

    Travel helps me be less self-conscious. I will probably never see those people again, so I don’t mind looking dumb for asking locals too many questions, or whatever. One of the best things about travel is the weight limit for baggage. It requires women to leave the curling iron and most other non-essentials at home. We find it inconvenient at first, but then realize we’re much freer without it.

  47. Cynthia June 25, 2014 at 11:15 am - Reply

    I do not really care about my appearance while traveling and when we travel we usually do pretty outdoorsy stuff like camping, hiking, snorkeling … where there is obviously no use in putting on make-up or taming my curls.

    Lately, I’ve started feeling self-conscious when I went through my travel picture: “How did I went out looking like that!” I try not to get too bothered by that, but it’s hard sometimes!

  48. Kayla June 25, 2014 at 11:11 am - Reply

    Yes! I’m trying to keep this in mind when I’m back at home because while I travel I tend to care a lot less than when I’m at home in my daily routines. I usually look back at my travel photos and appreciate my free flowing hair, hat choices, natural face and clothing choices that I typically don’t go out the door while I’m in my home city. I think while I’m traveling my focus is on so many other things, that what I look like and what people think about what I look like is nearly at the bottom of the list. Seeing and experiencing everything around me in the new city I’m exploring is everything to me. I need to better incorporate those drives into my daily life even if I’m doing some of the same routines everyday. I think in general it would enrich the time I am spending at home in-between adventures.

  49. Kayla June 25, 2014 at 11:11 am - Reply

    Yes! I’m trying to keep this in mind when I’m back at home because while I travel I tend to care a lot less than when I’m at home in my daily routines. I usually look back at my travel photos and appreciate my free flowing hair, hat choices, natural face and clothing choices that I typically don’t go out the door while I’m in my home city. I think while I’m traveling my focus is on so many other things, that what I look like and what people think about what I look like is nearly at the bottom of the list. Seeing and experiencing everything around me in the new city I’m exploring is everything to me. I need to better incorporate those drives into my daily life even if I’m doing some of the same routines everyday. I think in general it would enrich the time I am spending at home in-between adventures.

  50. Kate June 25, 2014 at 11:09 am - Reply

    This is one of the best lessons I’ve learned from traveling is not only does no one care, but I can learn to not care too. I left all makeup at home and gave up caring if my clothes match as long as they are (reasonably) clean. In return I don’t spend time and engery on fixing my appearance and I think about it a lot less, which leaves more room for living in the moment and enjoying my travels properly.

  51. Zoe @ Tales from over the Horizon June 25, 2014 at 10:57 am - Reply

    Well said. Life in general is so much more enjoyable when you don’t worry what other people think.

  52. Katie June 25, 2014 at 10:40 am - Reply

    Travel actually helped me give up caring what others think too. I just couldn’t bring all my hair stuff and makeup with me because I couldn’t fit that giant thing of hairspray, my straightener and a blow dryer in my one carry-on sized backpack AND have room for clothes. Now, I almost never use any of that anyways, and I agree – it’s totally liberating!

  53. Laura June 25, 2014 at 10:27 am - Reply

    I think I care even less when I’m traveling because I figure I’ll probably never see any of those people again!
    Even now, sometimes I go to work and realize I totally forgot to look in the mirror before I left (to be fair, my mirrors are not in very convenient locations). Usually it’s fine, but every once in awhile, I’ll wish I had looked…

  54. Amy Adams June 25, 2014 at 10:25 am - Reply

    This post resonates to me on so many levels. I too have THE most unruly curly hair. Adding to that the humidity of places like Thailand, and we have a serious ‘crazy hair’ problem. But you know what, as soon as I set foot on foreign soil, the cares I have back home of making sure everything is in place, disappears. I don’t care what people think, whether I have a spot on my chin or wearing mismatching clothes because I’m more worried about enjoying the experiences around me!

    I know when I set off for my long term travels next year that this is what I’m most looking forward to! The time I spend looking and acting perfect at home will be spent enjoying everything else the world has to offer!

  55. rob June 25, 2014 at 10:05 am - Reply

    Don’t give it the tiniest bit of care. I shower when I can, wash clothes when I can and try to look relatively civilized. But if circumstances are such that I can just splash my face and deal with dirty clothes, so be it.

    I had the discussion a couple of days ago with a friend about whether to wear shorts & running shoes when in Paris or if that was too “North American”. I pointed out that he would be unable to look like anything other than a tourist, so why not be comfortable, and enjoy the experience?

  56. Jimmy Dau June 25, 2014 at 10:05 am - Reply

    Read this quote yesterday and thought it was quite fitting.

    “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” – Bill Cosby

  57. Matthew Cheyne June 25, 2014 at 9:59 am - Reply

    Honestly, when I am traveling I don’t really care what I look like at all. So long as the clothes I am in are cleaning and fresh and that I have had a shower first thing in the morning, the rest doesn’t matter.

    My attitude when traveling – don’t sweat the small stuff but make extra effort to get the big things right.

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