Friendly warning: As this post deals with the concept of not giving a fuck, you can expect to find a goodly handful of f-bombs in it. Not your thing? No worries, check out some other posts with less colourful language. Happy to say “fuck it” and read anyway? See you after the jump.
They called to me. I couldn’t help it. I knew I was probably committing a crime against fashion and let’s not even get started on whether a plus size woman in her thirties is technically allowed to wear something so risque. And no, I don’t mean something better reserved for a hen party. My friends, I am talking about the baggy tie-dye pink harem pants. They looked like the love child of MC Hammer’s pants and a throwback to Woodstock. There was only one way I was going to be taking those babies home and then leaving the house in them: I had to stop giving a fuck.
Not giving a fuck is pretty much a meme these days. Julie Andrews is apparently in on it. We’re the first to admit we jumped on that bandwagon. Hell, you can even go on Fuck It retreats. It’s a great phrase to say when you’ve just tripped over the cat, missed a deadline, and spilled red wine on the carpet in the span of ten minutes. But what does it actually mean?
If you want to put it in less profane language (though it’s very therapeutic to say fuck it from time to time!), not giving a fuck is basically cutting down on how much you care about what other people think or say about you. You don’t have to be reckless, and you definitely don’t have to be rude to people. This isn’t about flipping the bird and running your mouth so you can seem like you don’t care. It’s about cultivating the ability to care less what other people think of you. I promise, it will be one of the most freeing things you’ll ever do.
Why Do We Give A Fuck?
There are a billion reasons we care so much what other people think of us, but they all boil down to one thing: we want their approval and it feels uncomfortable when we don’t get it. It only makes sense – from a young age we’re taught that if we do good, we’re good, and if we do bad, we’re bad. We get rewarded not for who we are but for our behaviour. It’s black and white thinking that sets us up to rely on other people’s opinion for our self esteem and self acceptance. But learning to let go of what others think of you is one of the most freeing things you’ll ever do.
What Other People Think Of You Is None Of Your Business
Having people in your life who you trust and whose opinion you value is a good thing for sure. We all need counsel sometimes. But there’s a world of difference between taking good advice from your bestie or partner, and making your life decisions based on whether people approve of you.
Here’s the hard truth: You can’t change what people think of you. You can only change how you respond to that. There will always be someone who doesn’t approve. Maybe your partner doesn’t like your hairstyle or your friend thinks your passion for musical theatre is lame. Maybe you’re getting flak for choosing a vegan diet, or deciding to run your own business, or your colleague laughed at you when you mentioned that you meditate. It could be as simple as that disapproving look you caught a stranger throwing at your tattoo. Whatever you do in life, there will always be someone who doesn’t approve. Your job isn’t to worry about them. Your job isn’t to try and change their minds. Your job is to figure out what is right for you, and to go with that regardless of what anyone else says.
The Art Of Not Giving A Fuck
Some people think not giving a fuck means becoming an irresponsible so and so who drops their mates at a moment’s notice and leaves people to die because they skipped their job in Intensive Care to go snowboarding. No, no, no. If you’re the kind of person who cares too much about what people think of you, you’re unlikely to rush off and be reckless and cruel. What it means is trusting yourself above others and not putting their opinions above yours. You’ll still be your sweet caring self. You just won’t torture yourself with other people’s opinions of you any more.
So how do you get started? Make no mistake, not giving a fuck is an act of courage. But the first step, though not easy, is very simple:
Do something you’re afraid to do.
That’s it. I warned you it wouldn’t be easy. Those harem pants? I put them on and spent a good half hour looking at myself from every angle in front of the mirror, judging my ample curves and finding them to be decidedly lacking for such youthful fashion. Then I went out in them anyway and saw that the world didn’t end, no one fainted from shock, and the next day’s newspaper headline was not “fat woman spotted on footpath in harem pants shocker!”. So if you want to dye your hair pink, start cookery lessons, sing in front of someone or take up a new career, the only way to get past the fear of what people will think is to do it anyway.
If someone does criticise your choices, ask yourself this: Does that person have a real, legitimate reason to get an opinion on your life? Do you genuinely value their opinion? Having a close circle you trust to be real with you is a wonderful thing, but that doesn’t mean everyone in your life gets to have sway over you – trust is earned. You can’t change what people will think, but you can change how much you care about it. It takes time, and it takes courage, but trust me it can be done, and the more you do it, the easier it will get until you are able to say “fuck it!” with gay abandon. Unless you’re more polite than me, in which case “fiddlesticks to it” will do nicely.
Are you ready to worry less and say “fuck it” more? What would you do today if you cared less about what people thought of you? Let me know in the comments.