You are an extra in life.
You know those countless extras you see in movies? Walking by a character on a street, getting thrown out a window by Jason Statham, running away from Godzilla, sipping coffee in Central Park… well, that’s you. Everyday, all day.
We’re all extras in everyone else lives. We serve and are served. When you’re driving down the highway and steal a second-long eye contact with the guy overtaking you, that’s probably the only appearance you’ll ever exchange. The only role you’ve both played is that of just another car on the highway. Nothing more nothing less. What does this mean for us?
Sing away world
Well it means we need to tame the evolutionary trait of anxiety. You know the feeling, you’re watching an embarrassing video on YouTube and feel awkward for the person; or you’re singing to yourself in the car and someone pulls up and you abruptly stop. Well sing away world.That person most likely doesn’t care, will not care and will not remember. Unless you are Brad-Pitt-famous in which case, this article doesn’t apply to you.
This evolutionary trait, designed to protect us from wild animals and other dangers, is now doing more harm than good. We stop ourselves from taking chances in fear of societal embarrassment. What will they think? What will they say? How will that make me feel? We’re all sitting around thinking about what everyone else is thinking about us when no one really is. You’re an extra.
Expert of… self
The science behind this is best explained by Nicholas Epley, Professor of Behavioral Science at the University of Chicago. Epley says that we assume that people notice every little flaw or difference in ourselves whereas they don’t. We’re experts on ourselves and experts notice things novices don’t.
“If you’re an expert physicist for instance, you can notice all kinds of small minute details that nobody else can notice. If you’re an expert mathematician, you can look at a formula and notice all of its intricacies in a way that a novice can’t. The same thing is true with yourself.” — Nicholas Epley
In short, all the tiny details you know about yourself and stress over, most people will never notice. And that’s because, similarly, they’re also preoccupied with, you guessed it: themselves and their own tiny details.
The outdated evolutionary trait of anxiety and shame prevents us from exploring new ideas and thinking as well as viewing and transforming the world. We fear exclusion. So the next time you get nervous to do something or try something new just remember, no one really cares and if you fail miserably (“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose” — Bill Gates) no one will notice.
Even if they do, they’ll almost always soon forget, especially when they turn to self examine, even if its just that new pimple that showed up threatening to derail there Snapchat selfie of the day. In short be selfishly yourself.