Caring Less, Caring Differently

The older you get, the less you should care about what other people think.

 I’ve been learning and absorbing this, both in my own experiences and in other reflections from various bloggers and thinkers. There comes a point in every adult life where you realize that you’re no longer living in a bubble; you’re in control of what you do with your time, your energy, and your heart. You’re not necessarily surrounded by all the same people who are always doing the same things, so therefore you’re not saturated in specific culture or way of living. And even if that’s the case, you have the choice of going with what’s easy or embracing the awkwardness.
I know this, but it still takes effort to believe, to practice, and genuinely act on it. For years I’ve lived as an impressionable person, believing that if a chorus of people told me something (especially if they were older and family), then they must be right. It never occurred to me that might be wrong, or they could be neither wrong nor right. It about perspective more than anything, and mine is one that I’m in the process of learning to trust and see as valid and worth talking about.

The less you care, the better you become at dealing with rejection, ignorance, hatred, pain, self-doubt, and so on.

I can agree with this to a point; it’s important to know how to be resilient, to stand up and keep going (even if it means hobbling for a little bit). But I’m not sure that giving the finger to those mentioned above is the answer; people love to rant and complain about how entitled, self-centered, greedy, and narcissistic this current generation is, but forget that we’ve grown up in an era where vulnerability and transparency equals weakness. Our primary education has been through technology and one-sided media outlets, rather than real-life conversation; when you’re exposed to all these different view-points and ideas and so on, of course it gets overwhelming. So you retreat, buying into the lie that if you don’t tell anyone how you really feel, it will all go away on its own.

But it never does; pretending that you’re immune to being real and complex only creates disconnection and resentment. I’ve done my damnedest to convince myself that I’m a lone wolf, but I’m a people person inside and out. And honestly, are any of us really all that better off alone?

Don’t stop caring, but rather, choose to care differently. I’m finding that this is two-fold:
One, you stop living in your head and actually let it out. Sometimes it’s in a journal or sometimes it’s in the presence of another person, but I have to be able to acknowledge the darkness, the not-so-pretty stuff in order to make room for what is good.

 Vulnerability is both terrifying and liberating, but I have to be able to talk about All The Things to at least one person. Silence gives the enemy golden opportunities to fill my mind with BS, leading me to believe that those I care about would be better off if I wasn’t around. But when I speak, scream, lament, however it comes out…God uses people to act as a tender voice, or maybe a bullhorn, to speak truth into my life when I need it most. Then once I’m done heaving word-vomit (or tears), I take a step back and am able to see the situation a bit more clearly, because my head isn’t going in a million different directions.

Two, acknowledge the truth and then do something about it…

We’re all human here, humans who long to be loved and taken care of. We’re all scared of rejection, of failure, and ultimately wasting our lives. It seems like in your twenties you have so much to prove, but what about what you have to offer? What about the gifts you have to share?

It really comes down to this:

People will judge you and criticize you, but the loudest voice is often the one in your head. I have no qualms admitting that I am often my own worst enemy.
The only way to get what you want is to ask for it. It might be through whispered prayers or blunt questions, but ask nonetheless. Looking back on my younger years, I wish I had done more of it.

What’s the point in going out of your way to get people to understand? I’m tired of over-explaining and having to justify my intentions, my desires, and what brings me joy. If I want to go on an adventure or try something new, I will.
In other words, if you’re by yourself and you want to have a drink, go out and do it. You’re not the first person to dine alone, and you’re not the only one who will feel weird about it at first. Friendships can happen in bars, on street corners, and the most unexpected places. Be open to the possibilities.
Worry less about having answers and focus more on being present. I believe in listening and being sensitive to others, but sometimes I get so sick of tap-dancing around certain subjects because they might be uncomfortable. Death, suffering, sickness, pain, and depression are all difficult to cope with, but avoiding them won’t erase the fact that they’re part of life.
Know when to apologize and when to own who you are. I’m sensitive. Quirky. Sensual and child-like. They’re all part of me, but they’re layers that aren’t exactly visible on a daily basis. You can be a social butterfly and still appreciate taking time for yourself. I call it being an antrovert.
They all have to be practiced and preached a thousand times over, always a work in progress.  But that’s the beauty in it, realizing that you don’t necessarily have to decide just once, and can change and evolve is time goes on. 

If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t be able to relate to anybody. But there’s a big difference between caring and putting my livelihood on the backs of someone else’s opinion.

And it’s not a bad thing, being able to show what’s important and what matters, versus what is a waste of time. If someone asked me what’s really attractive and appealing, especially in relationships…I’d say it’s actually giving a damn.

I’m not an acrobat, so I’m not going to act like one. But we’re all better together than we are apart.

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