What Would The Neighbors Think? How WWTNT Got Its Name

two girls making faces at restaurant

“What would the neighbors think?”

This is what my mother used to say whenever she scolded my sisters and I. We were doing something bound to embarrass ourselves. or more specifically, her (every mother has been there).  The correct answer may have been, “who cares?”.  But being the anxiety ridden oldest child, I felt a responsibility to take this one seriously.


two girls wearing flower crowns splashing in the river


It was certainly clear that something very bad would come out of dampening the neighbors’ opinion of us. My mother certainly didn’t intend it, but that question stuck with me and I wore it like a tiara for years.


picturesque family at beach next to garbage can and trash


And now, in this time of Facebook, Instagram, video calls and conferences, it’s even more about “what would the neighbors think?”. We can carefully craft what they think, can’t we? Who hasn’t cropped a photo to hide some unimpressive sight in the background before posting it?


woman standing in front of crowded closet wondering what to wear


The more evolved of us may say they don’t care what other people think. Ever. But the entire retail industry is getting rich off our insecurities, so there must be several more of us out there, standing in our closets, trying to figure out what to wear to the grocery store.


bulletin board with photos of University of Michigan, map of Michigan, Erin in UofM hat



But, “what would the neighbors think” doesn’t have to be anxiety inducing.  Instead, I made it self-motivating.  What would the neighbors think if I didn’t get into a good university? Well, after many years of studying, a big fear of failure, and a little luck, I was accepted to and graduated from the University of Michigan.


bulletin board with photos of Erin, Hollywood sign, Rodeo Drive sign, red carpet


What would the neighbors think if I failed after moving to California? Next stop, Giorgio Armani, Rodeo Drive and all the glamour that came with it! What would the neighbors think if my styling and personal shopping business tanked? See where I’m going?


women gossiping while holding cocktails


The fear of being cocktail party fodder actually propelled me forward! Not sure that’s healthy motivation, but for me, it worked.


blurred crowd of people


Fortunately, as I’ve grown older, my “neighbors” no longer encompass the grocery store produce guy or strangers at the mall. I don’t worry what acquaintances at a party, work associates, or the Mr. and Mrs. living next door are thinking. My “concern circle’s” diameter has diminished to include just myself and my family. And maybe someday, it will just be me I’m trying to please. 


Mom putting on lipstick using car sideview mirror


I imagine that’s the goal. But I’ll admit I’m not there yet.  I still put on lipstick to drive my kids to school; but that’s totally different, right?


woman holding garbage bag full of "shoulds"


Someone told me that you go through life with a garbage bag and other people are constantly filling it with whatever they want.


woman emptying garbage bag into trash bins


It’s up to you to go through that bag every once in awhile and get rid of what you don’t want or need.


woman gripping garbage bag closed while social media images move toward it


If the outside pressures or the “perfect” images you see as you peruse your Instagram feed don’t inspire you and instead make you feel somehow inadequate, don’t accept them into your bag. It’s your bag!

Two Hermes luxury handbags and What Would The Neighbors Think written in French

And since we’re being hypothetical, make that an Hermes bag! After all, a garbage bag? What would the neighbors think?

Until then,


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