Whether it's Westlife, the Spice Girls or your choice of career, Colette Sexton on why no one else's opinions or tastes matter more than your own.
My pre-teen life revolved around one thing: Westlife. Yes, the floppy-haired boyband, three parts Sligo, two parts Dublin, won nine-year-old Colette’s heart over when they burst onto the scene in 1999.
Life was never the same afterwards.
I ran out of wall space in my bedroom as I stuck picture after picture of the band up. At one point my long-suffering dad decided that the life-sized poster of Kian I placed beside my bedroom window was an excellent burglar deterrent because it made it look like there was someone in the house at all times.
Cliffs of Moher
One of my sisters was a fellow Westlife megafan. We both insisted on getting our own individual copies of each album and single because we felt it was our personal mission to ensure Westlife always made it to number one.
"Admitting I liked a boyband seemed like self-sabotage."
My oldest sister, whose taste was more Smells Like Teen Spirit than Flying Without Wings, selflessly accompanied us to Westlife concerts. Our parents even brought us to meet the band when they filmed the My Love video at the Cliffs of Moher (the happiest day of my young life).
But after several years of open Westlife-worship in primary school, the teenage years of self-doubt set in. I blended in with the crowd and pretended other people’s opinions and tastes were mine too.
The cool kids
I was terrified of being ridiculed. In secondary school, the cool kids predetermined everything. There was a right way to wear your socks - slouched down, never pulled all the way up.
Schoolbags had to be carried on one strap, never both (the damage this did to my back, we will never know). Admitting I liked a boyband seemed like self-sabotage.
"The world would be an awfully boring place if there were no differences of opinion."
Unfortunately worries about what "the cool kids" think can follow you well past secondary school. It took a long time to shake off those worries about other people’s perceptions in many aspects of my life, and not just in relation to my taste in music. But here I am, two months shy of turning 30 and I feel like I have finally become comfortable with who I am.
My sister and I will be at Westlife in Croke Park (after a heart-attack inducing morning trying to get tickets). We’ll sing along to every word. We’ll reminisce about our childhoods. And we’ll have a brilliant time.
I don’t care if you don’t like Westlife music. I don’t care if you judge me because I do. That’s your problem, not mine.
A boring place
There is a reason that Westlife made it to all of those number ones, just like there is a reason why 20 years later, they have sold out Croke Park, as well as venues across the world. They make music that a lot of people enjoy.
If you don’t enjoy it, fine - you don’t have to listen to it. But that does not make your musical tastes more relevant than those who do love singing along to When You’re Looking Like That.
The world would be an awfully boring place if there were no differences of opinion.
Everyone wants to be liked, but it is also important to be true to yourself. If you spend your life pandering to the opinions of other people, you are never going to be happy.
As the old saying goes, be who you are and say how you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.
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