Well, actually she asked, "Do you think you care a lot about what others think about you?" in that leading way that therapists do.
Well, shit, of course I do! Who doesn't? Don't you? I don't see you coming to sessions in your sweatpants or pajama bottoms.
Look, no matter how much I try to do things just for me, just do thinks I like, just "be me," it's my opinion that it's often difficult to draw the line between what I do because I like it and what i do because it gets me the desired results, whatever they may be.
My primary example in this is how one dresses and behaves in work and social settings. When I have a job, I try to obey the dress code. I don't usually wear any piercings, other than earrings, to job interviews and, unless the boss says otherwise, I don't wear them on the job. "Work me" is completely fine not being "all me" while at work. I try to dress according to the social situation and have the proper manners. I might not really want to put on some slacks to go to a cabaret show at a fancy (to me) bar. I might really want to stay in my pajama pants, but I don't. Now I might not get kicked out of a place for wearing them but I'd feel even more awkward than I already do in my skin, so I try to dress accordingly.
At the time, we were talking about how I had acted, as well as how I said I had not wanted to act at a get-together for to remember my uncle's passing, on the one year anniversary of it. Everyone else was acting happy, trying to enjoy the company of other people that they had only known because of my uncle. We told funny stories about him, but no one was crying. I find it very hard not to cry when I talk about him, even just when I think about him. I think my therapist was trying to get across to me, or remind me, that crying is a valid response to thinking and talking about a dead loved one and I shouldn't have felt prohibited from doing that. But I just didn't want to be that person. However valid an emotion might be, even however justified an emotion or the reaction to that emotion might be from a psychotherapy point of view, even from my point of view, it isn't necessarily seen that way culturally and I get tired of being seen as the crazy or overly-emotional or overly-sensitive one that everyone has to walk on eggshells around. I might know that experiencing that emotion that I'm feeling isn't the end of the world, that justifiably being angry or sad and reacting to it isn't going to make me hurt myself, but others don't. Or it just makes them feel uncomfortable in a way that can't be resolved then and I get tired of being the one that does that.
And I do care a lot about what the people I care about think of me and, unless I think it's just way out of bounds or outside my character, I do things that will please them. Take dating and romantic relationships. First date, I dress sexy in my opinion and place/activity appropriate. When I first start dating someone, I try to lay my cards out fairly quickly, so we can part if we aren't suited to one another. If someone doesn't want to be in a relationship with someone who's living with a mental illness, I get that and I'd rather tell hir now and have hir say that, than months in when I have an attachment to them. (Only one example of many.) But, after I'm with someone, especially on the things I could go either way about, I'm happy to oblige. I try to be GGG (good, giving, and game, from Dan Savage) not only in the bedroom, but everywhere in our relationship, within reason. I had one someone who, as the country song says, likes his women just a little on the trashy side, when they were their clothes too tight and their hair is dyed, with too much lipstick and too much rouge. When we went out together, like 'date night' out, I wore tight slacks, very low-cut tops, and full make-up. Now, another someone I was with for awhile, has completely different ideas of what makes a woman look sexy. When we went out on dates, I wore (almost) no makeup, and clothing that left something to the imagination. Now both of these men had seen me in the morning as well as sick as a dog. Ultimately, they'd go out with me no matter how I looked, within reason. They never asked me to look a certain way, but I didn't really care either way so I did what had the best results, which was looking in a way that they found sexy. But they also do things that they know I'll like. Neither took me to a football game, because I don't like football. Both try to pick out movies that I won't think are completely stupid when we go to movies. When I've asked them to wear certain things, they have. We both care about what the other thinks of us, which isn't always a bad thing.
I am also very aware that I do things specifically to get negative reactions from people. When I was younger, I used to think that I did these things just because I liked them. Now, I do like them, or at least most of them, but I know I'll get specific kinds of not-positive reactions and I'm either ok with that, or, usually, trying for that reaction. As I've said before, I share many things that others might save for a later date, or for never, specifically so people can decide to leave if that doesn't suit them. I really like weird shoes. When I was a freshman in high school and I felt invisible, I wore the weirdest, funkiest, chunkiest shoes I could find. I might not have had any romantic admirers, but I was no longer invisible in those black lace-up shoes with the two inch platform and the five inch heel. I still have, and wear, the black and white wingtip Doc Martin's I got my junior year. I just bought a pair of purple and lime tennis shoes. I have piercings and tattoos, which I flaunt proudly (as long as I'm not in a work environment.) If a person is on the more conservative side of public presentation, it might come off as mean or scary. Though this means less in some circles than in others, I still feel like it makes me seem tough. I still feel like I've earned my stripes, in a way. Moneypenny has suggested, in as nice a way as he could find, that it also makes me less approachable, which I'm ok with. I'm overweight and I don't really feel like I want to be what is considered a normal weight for me. When I was eighteen and still pretty close to that normal weight, I was robbed in my home. I've been overpowered and sexually assaulted. I have hopes that the piercings and tattoos which make me seem unapproachable and my weight itself make me a less desirable target all around. Last but not least, I have my hair cut short, not quirky manic pixie dreamgirl short, but short short. Though I'll date anyone on the gender spectrum, I hope that it is a bit of a dogwhistle to other queer women (hey, you can hit on me.) Also, until I really want to grow it out or I fall for someone who wants me to grow it out or Moneypenny finally gets me that neck tattoo, I'm going to wear it short because my ex-husband said he'd never fuck me again if I cut it short and I never want to fall back into that situation.
So, yeah, I care about what other people think. I think about, wonder about, what other people think. Maybe I do it too much. But, until the reality is such that not caring, or not caring as much, about what other people think is a problem, I don't see a need to make it a problem.