What is the fear of man? It is when we care more about what people think of us than anything else. It is worrying about what people will say about what we wear, say, the way we act, the things we like. It is living your life in such a way to win the approval of people.
Let's face it, everyone wants to be liked by others. That's a natural desire. But it becomes an unhealthy obsession if you change your behavior or try to become someone you're not just to make a friend or be popular, if everything you do is aimed at gaining the accolades, the approval of others.
Jesus warned against trying to seek the approval of man:
When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full Matt 6:5
I have to admit I was very much like this in High School. I wanted to be in the popular crowd so badly, I would have done anything. This desire to be popular followed me around most of my life and caused me to do things I would have never done, just to fit in.
As God says: The fear of man brings a snare,But he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted. Prov 29:25
You know what I discovered? The crowd is fickle. One minute they'll like you and the next, they're onto someone else. You can never please all of them, you can never do enough, be nice enough, be pretty enough. It's an illusive dream. And even if you do make it to the top, even if you are the most popular kid at school or the most popular person at your work or you have a million friends, then what? What does it mean? Does it give you value as a person? If that's how you get your value, then what will happen when your friends abandon you? or when they speak bad things about you, as inevitably they will?
When I finally stopped trying to be popular and fit in, when I finally turned my life over to the Lord and received my value from Him, that's when I found true peace. I can't say that I don't care at all what people think of me any more, but I'm well on my way. And it is so freeing. Love people as God commands but don't try to impress them. Instead try to impress God. He's the only one that matters.
And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people. Romans 2:29