My Take on the Overt Art of Not Giving a F*ck
Updated: Jan 13
My New Year’s Eve Resolution was to give way less f*cks (if any at all) about unimportant things, while also somehow pushing myself to achieve the impossible dream of getting my book published. I’m ten days in and this is my take on the overt art of not giving a f*ck.
1. Pretending to lose weight can feel as good as actually losing weight. After not dieting or exercising at all in the New Year, my husband came out of the bathroom pleasantly surprised that he had lost ten pounds. He danced around the living room, and I patted him on the back, acknowledging his victory. I told him I had also “lost” ten pounds while shoveling handfuls of Twizzlers in my mouth. What I failed to mention is I had moved the marker on the scale to the left, and bought him new shorts a size larger in the waist. We both feel accomplished and thin without any sacrifice at all. Why hold yourself to impossible standards if you don’t have to?
2. Pajamas are effective clothing for Publix and even Target shopping. For the last three years, I had pledged to be composed and put together before leaving my house, including blow drying my hair. For the last ten days, I’ve left my house without even brushing my hair. No one cares. The only person who ever cared was me, and that sweet old man from Costco who told me I had a face that lit up the world and I’d be famous one day. (Although, in retrospect, I realize that “old” man was fifty and married, and it was probably inappropriate for him to tell me I was stunning.) Being undone in public is a win all around because I’ve noticed people are less apt to stop and say hello in the grocery store if you haven’t washed your face. Winner, winner, chicken dinner for smelling like a dirty Dorito, and not having to interact with anyone. And also, not giving a shit some days, doesn’t mean I don’t also look smoking hot on other days.
3. I’ve realized sometimes the best attention to give my children is no attention at all. When my children want things and call my name, I'm ignoring them like they ignore me when I want things from them. They scream out “Mom” and I continue reading my book or loading the dishwasher, oblivious to their calls. Sometimes, I even look around, wondering where this “Mom” is and if she will come assist them. It’s surprising how many small things they can resolve on their own if you just let them. “Mom, I can’t tie my shoe.” “Mom, can you fill my water bottle?” “Mom, can you tell my brother to stop kicking me?” But with me not capitulating to all their demands, they are sorting their own shit out! Like last night when my son's low blood sugar alarm went off, I rolled over and went back to bed. He's 10. He can get his own juice and save his own life. (Okay, that's not true. I actually jumped up, ran across the house, slide into the cabinet in the kitchen, cursed, grabbed juice and sat next to him while he drank. I'll always give a f*ck about keeping my children alive.)
4. By not jumping through hoops to placate others, I’m learning to feel accomplished without external validation. Every day I look in the mirror at my acne laden face, and I say, “girl, it doesn’t matter what people think, you are beautiful.” I’m hoping my children learn this lesson as well. For instance, I’m allowing my daughter to use homemade invitations at school to invite her friends to her birthday party. Normally, I’d be self-conscious that other classmates might tease her sweet gesture, especially since some are barely legible with her tiny print, or more so that their parents might judge me. (Parenthood is a competition after all.) But I’ve decided it’s more important to embrace her gesture and goodwill than appease a bunch of strangers. If they don’t like her invitations, no birthday cake for them. Another win. Seriously, why did I ever care at all what other people thought? Being indifferent is so liberating.
5. Lowering expectations of others has allowed my feelings to be less hurt. Normally when Sally Chizcak says she hasn’t read my latest article because she’s been watching TikTok videos all afternoon, I want to throw my phone across the room. Thanks, Sally Chizcak, for not giving a f*ck about helping me grow as a writer. But I realized Sally Chizcak is on to something. Why should she go out of her way for me? She doesn’t owe me anything just because we are both women trying to make it in the world. Sure, I donated that kidney to her when she needed it, but beyond that we are even. Sally Chizcak shouldn’t have to spend one second of her precious time appeasing me, just like I shouldn’t have to spend my time appeasing her. Don’t read my articles. I won’t feel compelled to buy your kid’s Girl Scout cookies. And life continues on in a beautiful state of homeostasis.
6. Being pissed off all the time doesn’t help anyone. Yes, I was disappointed on Christmas morning to not have one gift under the tree from anyone other than my daughter, who used her own money at her school’s holiday shop to buy me a ring and a turquoise gem. That’s a justifiable reason to be upset. I did all the shopping, buying, wrapping, cooking, and the rest of my family did not even think to do one small gesture for me. That burns. But I also know that allowing anger to fester and consume me just makes me more toxic. I have to view the situation with a grain of salt. Sure he's a thoughtless moron, stupid enough to believe me when I said “let’s not exchange gifts this year because we’re spending my future book advance to take the kids to Europe,” but I can’t let that overshadow all the other things he does. Clearly his love language isn’t giving. It must be acts of service. My husband has read and edited all my books multiple times. So not giving a f*ck has also allowed me to let go of hostility and grudges.
7. I’m trying to stop losing my shit over everything my kids do. Before my dad died, anytime I yelled at my kids, he would say “hija, calmate. Calmate. Don’t get stressed out. Relax.” Relax? “How exactly should I do that, Dad?” I’d say, as my kids flung mash potatoes across the table, hitting me in the face. My whole childhood that man never “calmated.” He did the opposite—He screamed. He yelled. He punished. He even made us kneel on rice. When confronted with his hypocrisy, he would say, “I don’t want you to live like me. I want you to be better than me. I want you to learn from my mistakes.” And now, I can appreciate his sentiment. Relax. Calm down. My kids are watching what I do. They are watching how I respond. If I lose my shit because they are wearing two different socks, I’m teaching them to fixate on small things. In the grand scheme of life, who gives a f*ck what color socks they wore one day in third grade? I’m not caring about those small details, and it’s liberating.
8. Although listening to people vent about their problems can be all consuming, and a buzz kill when you are riding high on indifference and apathy, not giving a f*ck about small things doesn't mean I shouldn't give a f*ck about big things. The shoe will be on the other foot in due course, and I will want to vent. So many people are doing Dry January, the least I can do is listen to their worries, as they sift through the reality of their lives with sober goggles, even if I’m doing so while pouring myself multiple cocktails. Cheers!
9. It is okay to have a measure of self-preservation, to not allow myself to be a doormat or to be taken advantage of, to not be scared to not do for others. People will still like me even if I don’t plow them with pumpkin muffins and compliments. Being kind and doing nice gestures for people is amazing, but I shouldn’t do it to be liked or to be part of the in crowd. I should do it to be kind, and to teach my children to be kind. And not giving a f*ck doesn’t mean I'm never doing anything nice again, it just means doing nice things for the right reasons and for the right people. But sometimes if I have to tell someone I can't help them, that is okay too. Despite all the people I love and care for, I have to give a f*ck about me too!
10. Last, although I’m not giving a f*ck, I’ve realized there’s distinction about not caring about people who don’t care about you, and caring about people who do care about you. None of us achieve success in a vacuum, and even though Sally Chizcak is a complete a@@hole and never getting pumpkin muffins again, I have so many friends and family who have been so supportive of me. So those are the people I will give my energy too. Believing in yourself is most important, but it's easier to achieve when others believe in you. So, in my ten days of not giving a f*ck, I’ve learned that caring about others isn’t the problem, as long as you are caring about the right people.
Also, I've been advised I should read Mark Manson’s book, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.” Apparently, he also has insight on the topic, although I'm confused why it has to be subtle.