Before you begin: Not caring has nothing to do with yelling at waiters, getting blind-drunk in public or leaving trash in a cab. That's just being a disgrace.
“What will people think? What will they say when they find out that you…”
“Find out?” Very funny.
It makes it seem like I’m afraid of being discovered, like I’m hiding something about myself, like I have the energy for masking and subterfuge.
Well, I don’t have the energy, I’m not a masquerade, and most important, I don’t see the point of fear. Not anymore.
Indulge me, let’s quickly talk about how I got here.
1. It began with a heavy load of self-consciousness.
As in, I paid way too much attention to anyone who had an opinion about me or even just glanced my way.
“Here’s some attention for you, sir. You too, ma. Yes, and you, rude stranger who I probably won’t see again, have a little.”
I was running an attention giveaway, if there was ever one.
Side note: Because I was an outspoken child who was given a lot of freedom, I suspect this self-consciousness evolved later in life as a consequence of the culture of ‘respect at all costs’ I assimilated along the way.
2. I got sick of caring so much.
(Surprise, surprise,) paying attention to people indiscriminately doesn’t help anything.
I was miserable, oversensitive to criticism, easily embarrassed, afraid to trust my instincts and deeply invested in pleasing people who I strongly disliked at the same time. A stress cocktail with ice and lemon.
3. I confronted myself and did a bit of math.
Looking back, I can’t remember when things began to shift for me but I remember that the change was preceded by lengthy internal conversations and some kind of cost-benefit analysis.
I had to tell myself the truth: If I carried on being so easily bothered, I would be royally screwed.
Already, people were taking advantage of my non-confrontational nature to ride me hard and it was only a matter of time before I went from pushover to full-time doormat.
Something had to give, and it wasn’t going to be my self-respect.
4. I stopped (then started, then stopped, then…).
Not caring was a work in progress for a long time. It still kind of is. Maybe you never really stop entirely.
Oh, you thought this was a story of a miraculous turnaround? Haha. Try testimony service on Sundays and Thursdays for that one.
I didn’t just change overnight, guys, please. That’s a nonsensical myth (made up by motivational speakers desperate to sell useless books).
Getting here has been war. It has taken me consciously refusing to care, even taking it back: “No, you don’t deserve my attention.”
I’ve had to fight myself over things I think I should have said in conversations I had hours, maybe even days, before.
Sometimes, I even relapse. *gasps*
Every now and again, I catch myself holding back, biting my tongue, letting bullshit treatment slide or being subservient. That damned fear.
But it’s normal. Undoing years of caring and fearing takes serious effort, so I don’t beat myself up about slipups.
Instead, I remind myself how long it took me to take back my life, how much things have improved because of the changes, and what it takes to keep enjoying the benefits. Then I don’t care.
Or I do.
Either way, it’s always going to be my choice.
Don’t let anyone make you think you can’t choose what to care about.
Maybe that’s the lesson.