You may have seen Chantielle MacFarlane’s post about all the fucks she refuses to give in 2014. Inspired by Ms. MacFarlane’s list of anti-resolutions, Miri Mogilevsky has made her own list of fucks she will try not to give in 2014. These are both excellent posts, and it sure would be fun if I could make my own list of Unimportant Shit I Am Ready to Stop Caring About, Starting Right Now. Unfortunately, I can’t think of any more fucks I’m ready to stop giving. The thing is, there are certain Fuck streams that ran dry months or years ago, so I’d like to talk about them.
These are the fucks I have already stopped giving and will not hand out again any time soon.
1. Looking stylish or pulled-together. Being well-dressed is a chore that benefits me only to the extent that it maintains necessary relationships by showing other people that their rules are being honored. Translation: I do just about the minimum to meet the office dress code, only because I like being able to pay my rent with a single job. I sometimes make an effort when I’m meeting friends, but then I don’t hang out with friends very often. If I could achieve a lifestyle that allowed me to work from home, I’d hang out in grungy leggings and sloppy t-shirts all day, every day. I would not be above wearing pajama bottoms and a hoodie to the grocery store. My clothes need to be big enough to go on my body and sturdy enough to keep up with my activity. They need to be clean enough not to offend innocent bystanders’ noses when I go out in public. That’s enough of a challenge. I make an effort to look nice and professional when I have a job interview. This is a substantial part of my hatred of the job-searching process. As far as appearance goes, I prefer not to attract attention if possible.
2. Pleasing everyone. If I spent time with everyone who wanted to spend more time with me, I would either have to quit my job, give up my creative pursuits, especially writing novels, or stop sleeping. While I often ask myself if there’s a way I could give up sleep and still lead a productive life, this is in the service of having more creative time, not more social time.
3. Hiding my light. Call me a Know-It-All, I’ll take that as a compliment. I was that kid in school whose hand was always in the air. I hang out with people who like my Flagrant Nerd-ness and who challenge me to learn more and get better at what I do. Anyone who wants me to conceal my intelligence to make them more comfortable has no place in my life.
4. Maintaining the appearance of cheerfulness. This is a subset of #2. When people (this seems to happen a lot more to women, though it’s offensive no matter the recipient) ask us to “cheer up” or “smile,” or otherwise display a good mood where none exists, we’re being asked to perform for someone else’s benefit. I smile when I feel good. I act friendly to those who are friends to me. To everyone else, I do my best to be courteous, considerate and self-aware, but they will not see happiness that I don’t feel. Conversation is fine when one has something to say, but small talk sucks.
5. Making things look easy. I give plenty of fucks about doing a good job at things that matter, but I am so OVER acting like it doesn’t take effort. I refuse to participate in the culture of effortless perfection. If I’m sleep-deprived, sweaty, dirty, or mentally exhausted, you’ll probably see it. Numbers 1, 2 and 4 on this list are all subsets of this item. Looking polished and pretty takes effort. Being friendly, at least for an introvert like me, takes energy. Giving all the people in my life what they want from me takes time and juice that I can’t spare. Given the choice between being awesome at something and acting like it’s NBD, I’ll choose the awesome, every time.
6. Being cool. This is a quality that is either in you or it isn’t. It means confidence without arrogance, cultural currency but not trendiness, appearing approachable but not eager to please, and it all appears effortless. Are you sensing a theme here?
7. Being in a relationship just for the sake of not being single. Like most people, I crave companionship and I don’t really fancy being all by myself until I die at an advanced age. However. I am OVER putting effort into a relationship that a) honestly doesn’t turn me on all that much, and b) ISN’T GOING ANYWHERE, simply because it isn’t horrible. If we’re not building a life together, or plausibly going in the direction of building a life together, then I am not going to devote the lion’s share of my spare time (do you sense another theme here?) to trying to bond with a guy who views my boundaries as an obstacle course and whose greatest relationship asset is his cat. It’s more fun, more fulfilling and more productive to be single.
8. Reading ALL THE BOOKS. I’d like to read more books, truly I would. However, I am not interested in reading all books TO COMPLETION. If a book does not engage my attention, or if its prose is not sufficiently professional to silence my Inner Editor (this is a problem that develops when you become a novelist), I won’t bother to read it to the end. Life is too short.
9. Trying to win people over. There are some people, who will remain nameless, who think I am whiny and lazy no matter how hard I bust my ass, and that I have the mental capacity of a stupid teenager no matter how diligently and meticulously I work. There are others, who will remain nameless, who will continue to view me, along with everyone else of my demographic description, as an ignorant, contemptible interloper no matter how much loyalty I show them, and no matter how much empathy I practice and insight I demonstrate. I am OVER buying into the power dynamic in which I keep working harder to show them they can trust me, without them having done anything to earn MY trust. I’ve been burned more than once, just within the past year, because of that. No more. I’ll do my best because it needs to be done, but I won’t bother trying to audition for anyone’s respect.