Let Them Be Wrong about You.

By: Jen Shoop

This is an edited version of a musing I published in a “Weekend Vibes” post over a year ago. Last week, a fellow creative whom I admire reached out and said that she’d bookmarked that post, and has found herself thinking about it, and revisiting it, often. “Even outside of work, it’s so true, personally,” she said.

I was inspired to republish this little musing as a stand alone post because I, too, have needed to remind myself of it–and frequently. It’s an adjunct to the concept that not everything in life will resolve to a fine point. People will misunderstand you, dislike you, choose to see the wrong side of you — it is a fool’s errand to spend your life righting the ship. You will contort yourself, and get in your own way, and often, lose the battle. Sometimes people see what they want to see. Sometimes people project. Sometimes people have valid personal reasons that mean a relationship is ill-fated. The best I can do is keep my head down, work on myself, and know that I am seen, and fully, by the people who matter most to me.


Recently, I had an interesting exchange with a Magpie in response to my post on reducing the noise associated with petty frustrations. We were talking about the hurt and exasperation born of being underestimated, misunderstood, and dismissed in a professional setting. I have not been in a traditional workplace for years now, but I do have experience with this in a slightly different modality. I have now worked in four different start-up settings, and there is something about entrepreneurial endeavors that invites unsolicited — though often well-intended — advice from…everyone. We called it “mentor whiplash” back in my start-up incubator days, and the general wisdom from the trenches was to “listen to all, accept little.” Approach it like data: if patterns in feedback emerge, there might be something interesting to pursue. If not, move on. But it was difficult for me to sit still and quiet while accepting the Monday morning quarterbacking that I received from not only mentors but relatives, hair dressers, neighbors, customers, old friends. “Oh, you should have built on Ruby on Rails,” or “Why didn’t you start with a smartphone app?” or “You need to be partnering with x” or or or. I always bristled at the subtext; those comments implied that I had not known to contemplate such options. Truthfully, sometimes I had not. But often, I had. I would splutter in defense. “Oh, yeah, we tried that but –” and “Actually, Ruby doesn’t work well with –” Over time, I realized I was burning a lot of energy defending my chops as an entrepreneur to people who were more or less immaterial to the success of my work at the time. Opinions are free; everyone has them. You can spend your entire life battling them, swatting at them, disproving them. One day, I read the quote: “Let people be wrong about you. You have nothing to prove.” Something unlocked in me. I realized it was much better to keep my head down, put one foot in front of the other, conserve my energy for my actual work. I could either worry about what they thought of me, or I could worry about building something I believed in. I had to hope that the proof would be in the pudding.

It’s interesting, the way different aspects of my life have threaded together to yield analogous insights. As a writer, I have had to learn to be comfortable with being misread and misunderstood by my audience. I have to accept that once I publish something, it is no longer mine. It belongs to you, the reader, who will bring your own narrative and experience to whatever I’ve put on the page. I can only continuously aim for improvement such that my writing is clear enough to communicate some element of truth, or beauty, or longing, or what have you. In these pursuits, I am constantly reflecting on Rick Rubins’ quote: “Always aim for your highest meaning. And never underestimate the audience’s ability to get your highest meaning.” To me, this means: take the risk, write with as much specificity and weirdness as you can, create from the authentic core–not through the prism of some imagined third party reading it. Sometimes the narrowest detail proves to be the most resonant.

The commonality across these creative, professional, and relationship insights:

People will be wrong about you. Let them. Trust your intentions and hope that those will shine through.


+Related: trust yourself. (And a great writing prompt for my journaling Magpies.)

+Designing spaces for creativity.

+On getting started with writing.

Shopping Break.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through the links below, I may receive compensation.

+I own this dress in a different pattern from last summer (mine is striped) and it was one of my favorites — the neckline, the length, the longer bodice all feel fresh and sophisticated. Love the new pattern!

+This embroidered denim jacket is super cute. I think we’re all on a denim jacket kick, because this belted Barbour style ($200) has been selling like crazy among Magpies the past week. Look for less with this. Two denim jackets in my own closet and beloved: this La Ligne and this L’Agence.

+Denim everything!

+Wow – how chic is this cantilever outdoor dining umbrella? They have other styles that are less expensive, too — this one is their bestseller.

+Awhile ago, we got rid of our miscellaneous liquid measuring cups and upgraded to Anchor Hocking, widely considered the best — most accurate, heaviest-duty, longest-lasting. I just added this larger size one (which comes with a convenient lid!) to my cart.

+Two great Zara finds: this dress (already selling out in some sizes) and this shell clutch.

+Loving Addison Bay’s new striped pieces — like this tennis dress and this crewneck. (More spring fitness gear, including a few tennis dress options, here.)

+These leather sandals look so much more expensive than they are — all are under $200, but look like The Row / Khaite / etc.

+These earrings arrived and I feel like a different woman in them! I’ve never had anything like them — they feel chic, modern, sophisticated. I love the way they look with a simple white button-down.

+Shared this blouse a few weeks back, but I’ve worn it multiple times! 20% off with JEN20, meaning it’s under $70!

+Cute Mary Janes for a little love.

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6 thoughts on “Let Them Be Wrong about You.

  1. Skimmed this when you first posted it and thought, “mm-hmm, sure, yes…” and then today had a situation at work that was so frustrating and after venting about it to my husband, I remembered this post and came back to it! No more energy defending myself. I know what actually happened and what my intentions were. I’m not the one being rude, and I can decide to let them be wrong! Easier said than done for me, but I’m holding onto this. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. I’m so sorry you encountered this situation — I know the feeling. It is SO hard. Glad these words helped (a bit) but it’s sort of a muscle you’ll need to keep flexing! (Or, at least I do!)


  2. An exceptional reminder, graciously explained, to not let opinions have our power. Keeping a screenshot of this as a reminder. Thank you.

  3. Thank you for this – the timing is impeccable as relates to a work-adjacent situation that is very much on my mind. Your post has served as exactly what I need today!

    1. I’m so glad – it’s so reassuring when I hear that my words arrived at the right time!!

      And – you’re not alone!


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