Learning how to not give a f*ck
Admittedly, I am sitting here typing this article approximately 24 hours before I am supposed to send it in. Twenty minutes ago, I had no idea what to write about. So here we go, typing away about something that I, quite frankly, rarely do: reading. Prefacing an article by saying that the subsequent paragraphs will be about reading perhaps goes against everything my high school English teachers taught me about a hook, but I promise it will be a lot more interesting than just reading. Trust me, I generally find books about as enjoyable as a self-administered Covid test in the Bryan Center.
As I perused Barnes and Noble earlier this week during a quick trip to the Southpoint mall with my friend Grace, I was nearing the exit when the bright orange cover of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck stared me down. In that moment, I felt it calling out to me, shouting “Simi, you know you need to read me. You give too many f*cks.” So, I picked it up and ran. Well, no, I didn’t actually run. I of course stopped at the register on the way out.
I figured that perhaps I would learn something by reading this book, and that something is, well, something which is better than nothing. When I plopped down on my couch and started reading under the 900 colored LED lights that illuminate my living room, however, I was shocked by just how much author Mark Manson’s words resonated with me.
For those who haven’t read the book before, here is my super quick summary:
Despite the name of this nontraditional self-help book, it does not advise readers to simply go around life being emotionless beyotches who doesn’t give a f*ck about anything. Rather, it quite bluntly states that we are all going to die relatively soon in the grand scheme of time and that in our lives we have a finite number of f*cks to give, so make them worth it. Give f*cks about things that genuinely warrant your energy and time, because both are incredibly valuable.
One passage I found quite interesting talked about what we want out of life. Many of us are, quite bluntly, asked what we want out of life. Many of us will answer with something along the lines of “happiness.” Manson would consider this response so typical that it is meaningless; we ALL want happiness. He instead argues that the more important question we should ask ourselves is what pain we are willing to endure in life. Pain is where the real growth happens; by confronting that which makes us struggle, rather than hiding from it, we are able to grow and ultimately find joy. On a related note, we must not let stereotypical images of “perfection” allow us to think that we are not allowed to experience intense negative emotions. If we are groomed to think that it is wrong for us to feel, say, anxious, then we get anxious about being anxious. This, in Manson’s words, is the “Feedback Loop from Hell.” By not giving a f*ck, you “short-circuit” this loop.
Now onto why I think this is actually important and relevant.
These times we are living through are hard. And unusual, and scary, and many more negative adjectives. Whenever I go on Snapchat, I get a “One year ago today” image of me absolutely living. Now, one year later, I am a part-time student with weekly therapy appointments. Honestly, as I sat here typing that, I laughed. Because I’m learning that while this is not how I would have envisioned my life right now, I don’t really give a f*ck that I was seemingly much happier a year ago. I had a great day today, and that’s what matters. If I didn’t have a great day, that’s okay too.
These negative experiences that are seemingly more frequent these days are a part of life, and as cliché as it sounds, this is where and when we truly grow. Now some situations warrant tears, anger, despair, perhaps even action on your part. But most blips that happen during a given day are, well, blips on the radar. Some blips are bigger than others, but in the grand scheme of your day, week, month, life, they don’t matter. And blips don’t warrant a f*ck.
I am not going to lie and say I magically developed tunnel vision and will now be able to walk down Main St. not giving a f*ck. I will most definitely cry about things that don’t deserve my tears. I will definitely get angry about situations that don’t deserve my energy. But I can already sense myself consciously refusing to give a f*ck when something starts to occupy too much real estate in my mind.
So thank you, Mark Manson. It was certainly fate that I was blinded by the cover of your book on my way out. I will carry the lessons I have learned from this book with me in my day to day life. If you’ve made it this far, perhaps now is an appropriate time for me to share that I am actually only on page 97 of the book, which is 97 more pages of reading than I did my entire freshman year (blame Pratt).
And on that note, I will leave this article with a quote from the book that I highlighted:
“Who you are is defined by what you’re willing to struggle for.”