I think all that jive about “not caring what other people think” is mostly bullshit.
When I puff out my chest and chant the “I don’t care what they think“ mantra, it feels like I’m just giving myself a free pass to act like an asshole. And really I’m probably doing something I shouldn’t be doing or just did something I shouldn’t have done.
Like that time you all know and love when I went into Jewel at quarter to eight in the morning with bloodshot eyes, looking like I’d only slept for a few hours. Because I had. And then walked up to the checkout lady with 2 pints of beer in my basket, all standoffish. Temperamental and dramatic and inwardly screaming, “Judge me all you want. I don’t give a fuck!”
Yeah, that was just a cover up for the shame I felt for buying beer before the day had even started. It had nothing to do with legitimately not caring about what the lady in Jewel thought.
When the “I don’t give a fuck what they think” comes out of my mouth or I’m all emotionally rambunctious up in my head most likely I’m up to no good. In one way or another. Maybe I haven’t actually done anything yet. Maybe my motives aren’t in the right place or my emotions aren’t pure. Whatever it is something is off.
I’m not trying to sound preachy but whatever. I probably am.
I don’t care what the neighbors think about the pink Christmas lights hanging in my kitchen window year round. However, this example of “not caring” never crossed my mind until I started exploring this apathetic path. If you will. I never thought about what they think let alone bothered to care what they think. I honestly didn’t think about the pink lights because I honestly don’t care.
That’s when “not caring” is not bullshit: when I have zero thought and zero emotional investment.
Truly not worrying about what people think of me and the things I like, that all comes from a place of calm and confidence and not one of bolstered and shouting egos. Not one of loud arrogance.
I do what I want and so long as I’m not stepping on someone else’s toes then I don’t give a fuck. Don’t give a fuck enough to not even think about giving a fuck. If that makes sense.
I do care what people think about me. I care about my family and friends’ opinions because what they think is important. It counts. It matters.
If my friends think I’m being an asshole or if a stranger looks at me like I’m being a jerk, there’s something wrong with what I’m doing. Like if I say something in front of a server at a restaurant and an honest-to-god worried look comes across their face then I have wonder to myself, “Oh. I shouldn’t have said that. Maybe I shouldn’t say that again.”
Being a jerk is something I’m never trying to do these days but I’m only human and sometimes I don’t realize I’m being an ass. This is why what other people think is important. I look for guidance from the people that I trust in my life when I’m uncertain.
I look to and count on my peers calling me out because I’m so wrapped up in me most of the time that I have a hard time seeing what’s going on. More importantly what’s going wrong.
If I have something in my teeth I know that somebody will tell me. Man, is hearing that rough, too. Saying it isn’t any fun either. Being either person in that situation can be uncomfortable. And then of course Maggie showed me how to handle all of that. A few weeks ago I told her that something was in her teeth after dinner. She said “thank you” and then went and got a toothpick. That’s the end of the story. And also an excellent example of what “not caring” is really all about.
This might sound self-deprecating but I fucked up a good chunk of my life because I didn’t care what people close to me thought and I just did whatever I wanted. That didn’t work out so well. Hence two divorces.
In the here and now I pay close attention to what people near and dear to me say. When people give me their feedback I do my best to listen and take it seriously. If they say that I’m fucking up then I probably am. And then I do my best to course correct. Because I don’t want to fuck up my life anymore.
Also, and this is important: I look for the good in people and automatically assume that when they give me feedback it’s coming from a good place. I don’t take what my friends say as an attack. Why the hell would my friends attack me? Friends don’t attack.
Opening myself up to criticism, taking that with as much grace and humility as I can muster, and then appreciating the growing bond with that other person is a big part of the meaning of life to me. Friendships will absolutely flourish when I allow myself to be a whole human being in front of my friends. And even more, when my friends see that I took their suggestions, they’ll know that they count to me. They’ll get to be somebody, too. Our friendship will be balanced. Equal parts them and equal parts me.
I don’t know about you guys but I admire and respect the hell out of my friends and family. I care deeply about them and their opinions. I legitimately do care what they think about me.
And the last thing I want to say about this whole “not caring what people think” bullshit is that most people don’t think about me. At all. Because I’m not that important. If I’m out in public chances are other people don’t even see me. And that’s not because I’m a ninja.
One more thing. I’ve never written an “abstract” before.