I Have Always Depended on the Approval of Strangers

Over the years I have become tolerant of many of my flaws, with at least one exception. I hate how much the esteem of others matters to me. I wish I didn’t care what people think of me. Intellectually, I can decree I don’t give a **** – I’ve had decades of experience paying lip service to that – but again and again it is obvious that I do care; in fact, I give several ****s.

The worst is when I need to justify myself to strangers. For example, if I change lanes on the freeway, I like to show the choice was rational and my driving is reproach free by, say, exiting at the next offramp. Why do I think anyone is paying attention? What is my problem? I have never figured out how to break past this. Maybe I need to force myself to change lanes randomly and repeatedly and get so used to living with the shame that it no longer matters.

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