“Started not to give a f*** and stopped fearing the consequence.” Drake
Recently, an older acquaintance (50-something) shared with me that he finally doesn’t care what people think of him. This tiny statement started my mind running about how much I care what others think of me. After much introspection, reminders from song lyrics, and some discussions with friends, I arrived at a key understanding:
My dependence on what others think of me is holding me back: I have to stop caring.
Not in the ignorant, rude, ass-hole type of way. I obviously want to be likeable, to be a good person, and to contribute value to the world because that is who I am. Me “not caring” doesn’t mean I will change my personality, core values, or beliefs.
What It Means
Stopping caring means I will grow my internal outlook that I am truly confident with who I am (inside and outside). I want to be able to do, act, or say whatever I want without fearing self conscious responses to how others critique me.
My happiness does not revolve around what you think of me. If you don’t like me, my attire, or character, I’m completely fine with it. By dropping the shield of fearing how you observe / judge / perceive me, I am free to let loose and not have to care about impressing you with my actions, my new stuff, or any other means.
I don’t want to TRY to be liked. I want to be me: if you like me then you like me for me, not a persona, mask, or fake.
Does growing more comfortable with one’s self develop with age? As humans we naturally crave attention and affection, quickly realizing that the best way to receive these is to fit in with the majority, to try and please them, and to not disrupt the order. (Why else would people follow the crowd, buy beyond their means, and try to “keep up with the Joneses”?)
We start wanting to fit in around elementary school, to be part of the cool kids in middle school, and to be respected in high school. Then students leave for college, are hopefully exposed to an entire range of people, and grow more comfortable with themselves. They can explore who they really are, they can find peers with similar interests, and continue to grow into their true selves. That’s one of the reasons college is beneficial: it gives you time to find you (ideally).
This process of exploration and growth keeps happening until eventually (24, 32, 55?) the individual is content with who they are. They don’t care what others think of their car, clothes, or house. They have relationships that value them for WHO they are. I don’t think it “just happens” though: self confidence requires introspection and growth. (At all ages there are plenty of people who are totally unsatisfied with their lives.)
“We’re all self conscious, I’m just the first to admit it.” Kanye West
But I don’t want to wait until I am 40 or 50 to not care! Caring is holding me back from taking the essential risks NOW: I can’t afford to let time work this problem out. Therefore, I am speeding up the process.
I love shoes: sneakers, dress shoes, casual shoes, all shoes. I have been obsessed since 8th grade when a friend and I became interested, started learning, and started buying. I can identify and name every Jordan, I constantly browse NiceKicks and Hypebeast, and I will notice someone’s “Toro Bravo” Jordan V’s from underneath a table across a restaurant (true story, happened last week).
But at one point I realized that although I like shoes, I was using my flashy shoes as a way to stand out, to be different, to be noticed. My shoe-game became a vehicle to seek approval and admiration. One of the best compliments you can give me is, “Nice shoes”.
So, in order to get away from this, I decided to buy one pair of shoes for the summer and wear them everywhere. I wouldn’t clean them, watch out for them, or worry about how they looked. And I did.
And now I don’t really care about the shoes I have on. Sometimes I will dress up and wear my nicer shoes but most of the time I am entirely comfortable wearing old, beat up running shoes. (I am wearing Asics Gel Nimbus 9’s that are basically falling apart as I write this). Although I still love shoes, I don’t have to use them as a means for you to approve of me, to like me, or admire me.
I am now launching an initiative to start not giving a shit.
For the month of November I am making it a priority to start caring less about how others view me by observing times of self consciousness and developing the areas that need work.
- When do I care what others think?
- Which of my actions increase this feeling?
- How can I improve this weakness?
From the start, here are the focus areas:
- Having to look good and impress people with attire (Experiment 1)
- Letting go of how I am perceived in public and not having to be calm and collected (Experiment 2)
- Actively making a choice to overcome my fear of not being liked
- Seeking outside perspective of self consciousness from different ages (Ongoing, please contribute your thoughts)
I will be conducting specific experiments by putting myself in situations to test my need to be accepted. Stay tuned…
Please contribute with suggestions or thoughts about self consciousness and how to overcome it.
- Do you think that self consciousness decreases with age?
- What is the biggest thing that you fear others think of you?