Your perception of how other people view you is a tool that’s both very useful and useless, depending on the circumstance. It’s not always easy to understand how best to weigh the various perceptions that you are told or that you might observe about yourself.
One close friend’s words might weigh pretty heavily – as long as he/she doesn’t have vested interests at stake – compared to a complete stranger.
Four hundred complete strangers might weigh heavily *as long as* it is not about one event and one set of rumors.
One or a handful of strangers making juvenile, offhand, or baseless comments are weightless and are immediately dismissed.
Strangers or close friends or relatives offering up their pessimism or disapproval of a project/dream/goal/objective you have decided is important and worthwhile, especially if they are raising questions or doubts you’ve already considered and accounted for: probably quite weightless.
In the midst of this, what I feel shouldn’t be ignored is the reality that some surely use the quote to justify whatever behavior they want, oftentimes denying or ignoring any “consequences” for the behavior, even if in fact those effects may be both negative and significant. For instance, it’s clear that those who are the happiest and most successful make a conscious effort to avoid negative, pessimistic, and toxic people, and the result is that some are themselves the cause of their own solitude (they drive others to distance themselves).
But, as always, it’s ultimately your choice – you can do what you want, because you are the leader of your life. You decide where it goes; you decide what you become. Own every decision you make. Own your every action and behavior. Own every word that comes out of your mouth. Own the results that you get. Own it all.
Theodore Roosevelt on the topic of friendship: “If a man has a very decided character, has a strongly accentuated career, it is normally the case that he makes ardent friends and bitter enemies.”