I'm trying to figure out when I started not caring about what other people think. Maybe it was when I stopped looking for my parent's approval. Maybe it was when I became comfortable with being alone and decided to stop online dating and let things happen organically (which they did by the way, but that's a story for another day). Maybe it was when I turned 40 or 45 or last year. I'm not sure exactly when it happened but one day I decided the only opinion that truly matters is mine. I stopped looking outside for answers. I realized all of the answers were inside me. I knew all along what I needed to do, I just needed to be quiet for long enough to listen. So, maybe I realized all of this when I started my coaching training. As part of the training we had to be coached as well as practice coaching. It was during these sessions, that I came up with the answers I needed. Someone else had to ask the right questions, but the answers were all mine.
There's a sort of freedom with not worrying about what other people think. Now that's not to say that I don't care what the people I love think. Of course, I want to make sure I'm not doing or saying anything that would hurt them or make them stop loving me. But worrying about how I look in public or filtering what I say so I don't offend some random person, that no longer concerns me.
Also, along these same lines is accepting my appearance, being comfortable in my own skin. Accepting the curves and bumps, the lines and wrinkles, the gray hair and random stray hairs. As I approach 50, I am becoming more accepting of all of these things. That's not to say, I don't worry about what I eat or slack off on working out but I realize I'm never going to be a size 4 again or weigh 125 pounds. I'm in pretty good shape and eat fairly healthy, but I still enjoy my red wine and the occasional dessert.
All of this is to say, self-acceptance is freeing. When you stop worrying about everyone else's opinion, you have way more time to ENJOY this life!