I was a mouthy, outspoken teenager at school, mostly to mask my insecurity. It was quite fun to get sent to time out from maths class for aiming a water pistol at Miss Hailstone, to almost get caught for smoking halfa ciggie in the flax bushes at Mona Vale, talking back to the relief teachers, etc.
But then someone commented that their father didn’t like me. I mean, really, who cares if someone’s folks didn’t like you? It probably made one more popular anyway. But the thought of someone not approving of me seemed awful, somehow. Why didn’t they like me? What did I say? What did I do?
Something I struggle with, and have since I can remember: I am terrified, terrified, of offending people. This was never more evident than when organising our wedding. I fretted about who we would manage to offend / annoy / inconvenience by not inviting them / having it in Melbourne / having it on a long weekend / having it in the city. Obviously, and rationally I knew this, this is a complete load of bollocks, and not only because most people we know are nice people and are honoured to come to our wedding, and those we have not invited have been fine about it (as far as I know). Still, I worried.
So, when I saw this article: I read it with interest and then took myself to amazon to read the theory in its entirety.
Essentially, the book The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck advances the theory that you only have a limited amount of fucks to give about stuff in your life at any one time, and you can’t be expected to give a fuck about everything. The basic idea is most people spend an inordinate amount of time on things that they don’t actually care about, and saying yes to things before they really think about it, so to be included in things and not to offend anyone, thus ensuring that people like them.
This is one of the best books I have read this year. Seriously. I’ll put my hand up now and say, in my 20s particularly, I had the motto of ‘say yes to everything’. This was meant to be a life affirming action, where I squeezed all the fun out of life I could. In reality, a good portion of it involved going to parties I didn’t want to go to, going to gigs on weeknights I was not interested in, leaving a hole in my bank balance and my sleep budget. So I ended up hungover and poor, all in the name of ‘fun’ and making sure I was included.
Why do we care so much what people think? Why does the approval of others matter so much? I have spent hours, no, DAYS out of my life, my TIME, giving a fuck about things i really shouldn’t give a fuck about, or that I cannot ever control. Especially what people think of me. I have always worried far too much about this, to my utter detriment.I have a friend who really DGAF what people think of her, and she is blessed with plenty of friends and is a happy well-adjusted person. Her motto? ‘I don’t really see why I have to explain myself.’ I offered, ‘um, well, because some people might be uncomfortable with xx decision’. ‘Well, the comfort levels of others isn’t really my problem’ Wow! So cool. See where I am going with this?
And thanks to this book, by writer Sarah Knight, I am working on it. For example:
1. Snide remark from friend? (Said friend infamous for snide passive remarks). Past approach: Stew on this for days, burning a hole in your stomach, before doing precisely nothing but being pissed off in next interaction.
Future: Either call her on it at the time ‘oi! not cool!’ or even better, say to yourself “who cares” and put it down to that person and their manner as utterly nothing to do with you.
2. Contributing $200 towards a non-close friend’s hens that included cocktail making and man-date?
Past: Immediately said yes, contributed money you did not have, then resented the whole thing.
Future: Refuse graciously and in a timely fashion, text hen and advise you can’t wait to catch up personally, just unable to attend this particular event.
3. Going along to rugby with the guys when you are tired and dying for couch on a Friday night.
Past: go along, drink too much, out of fear of being told you are ‘boring’ or ‘suburban’
Future: a firm but polite, ‘sorry can’t come, can we catch up another night?’
Aforementioned friend has this down pat, as a matter of course. ‘You don’t have to justify your decisions to anyone but yourself’, she says.
You don’t want to stay out for evening? go home.
You don’t want to put in for leaving present for annoying workmate who you don’t know very well? Politely decline.
The fact is no-one cares, and if anyone does, they are a dickhead.
There are limits to this, obviously. There ARE things you do give a fuck about, thus you can spend you limited fuck budget on. Example: close friend’s baby’s 1st birthday – absolutely important. This is someone you love’s child, and that child is important. You don’t have to buy them castle grey skull or whatever, just attend and give child a nice cuddle and have a nice drinky.
So, things I do actually give a fuck about!:
– My friend’s thesis
– Abortion reform
– US candidacy (WTF really)
– Water shortages
– My veggie garden
– My doggies
– My family
Then the things I am no longer giving a fuck about:
– People we can’t invite to wedding. Including BBF’s cousin’s new boyfriend Jake from Brunswick: sorry, no room.
– Bitch relations comments towards me – the old trout can keep being a bat, it’s nothing to do with me.
– Essendon drug scandal (honestly, who CARES)
– Peta Credlin and Tony Abbot bullshit – why is this still news?
– A friend’s constant drama with work / men / life when she has little intention of taking action.
See? It’s working. And today, BBF is off to work reunion at the pub, which I considered going to. Then I realised, he doesn’t give a fuck, nor do I. I could go, but really, I won’t be missed, and there’s a movie I want to see and it’s my Sunday.