‘unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. it’s not.’ – dr seuss
Hey pals! This is the first part of a blog series I plan on writing leading up to my 21st birthday in April. The topics will be on ‘shit I have learned through bumbling around.’
This week’s topic: ‘giving a fuck’ v. ‘not giving a fuck.’ And how, at nearly 21 years of age, I have discovered that you need to give and not give both simultaneously.
Forward, I’m not going to write deeply about politics this time, I’ve done that before and if you want to read that you can go back to the November 2016 or January 2017 section of this blog. It’s no secret that I, a twenty-year-old student who lives in Europe and studies history and archaeology, is left leaning. If that was a shocker to you it’s okay to sit down. It was a shock to me as well. That being said, politics shroud everything and to ignore them is naive and will be a point of discussion below.
First, as any academic analysis demands I will define my terms. ‘A Fuck’ will be treated as a noun. It is the feeling, idea, or concern given or not given by someone about a given topic, object, person, etc. To ‘give a fuck’ means that the individual expresses interest or care about a given, topic, object, person, etc. Reversely, to ‘not give a fuck’ means that the individual does not express interest or care about a given topic, object, person, etc.
Okay, definitions out of the way.
In the following essay I will explain why an individual should first, ‘not give a fuck.’ After, I will counter with why they should ‘give a fuck.’ Lastly, I will take this dichotomy and create a new thesis based on why ‘giving’ and ‘not giving’ fucks can and should coexist peacefully within an individual. The basis of my study will be from my own personal experiences. This is what I’ve experienced and should not be treated as the be all end all guide.
Part I: ‘Not Giving a Fuck.’
So long as an individual is happy no fucks should be gifted to the surrounding community. If the individual is acting independently and without harm to themselves or others, they should exist as a balanced atom: all valence fucks intact.
I was never a popular kid. For a long while, I cared a whole awful lot about what others thought of me. I used to tailor who I was to fit some sort of idea I thought others thought of me. It was wildly twisted and really confusing.
I did not fit in with the jocks because I was too much of a nerd. I did not fit in with the nerds because I was too much of a jock. I felt like I was constantly shifting how I presented myself because I wanted to fit in and did not want to be seen as weird.
It was a disaster that had me running between the locker room and the Latin room. Each time I left a part of what made me Kennedy behind and I really hated it. I knew that I couldn’t be one part without the other and that I needed to figure out how to be both.
It was not until I decided trying to tailor myself was just too much work. Instead of being a weakness, I turned it into a strength. I stopped caring about what others thought of me and just did what I wanted. I continued about my day filled with things that I enjoyed. I spent a lot of my time reading, going to museums, playing basketball, and running. While I do admit, that did make things lonely. I had rejected a large part of what made being a teenager such a ~dramatic~ time. But, it wasn’t for long. By continuing to do things that I enjoyed regardless of whether or not people thought it was cool, I soon found others like me. They did exist! It just took a while to find them, because like me, they thought they were alone. And so instead of going to museums alone, I went with friends.
Now, I still do things that I enjoy without really much worry. I like going to museums, so I go. I enjoy studying, so I do that. I enjoy mountaineering, so I do that. I also spend a lot of my time alone, but I enjoy that too. I’m here to learn so I’m not really concerned with asking questions that may make me look like fool. I’m not particularly afraid of making fun of myself or making a fool of myself. Within reason, of course.
Which, I think, is how I learned to ‘not to give a fuck.’ I finally reached the paradise of ‘No Fucks Given Nirvana’ when I realised it’s not about not caring about anything, it’s about caring about what makes you happy and not letting other people convince you that it isn’t worth your time. It’s about fully being yourself and accepting all aspects of yourself all the time versus certain aspects of yourself some of the time.
Part II. ‘Giving a Fuck.’
Once I learned how ‘not to give a fuck,’ the next lesson I learned was when and for what I should actually spend my precious amount of fucks. I care deeply about history and archaeology and my cat and my family and my friends. I would drop anything at any moment to help a friend in need, that’s true.
It’s about caring for things that are important to you. It’s about standing up for things that mean something and it’s about representing yourself the way you want to be respected. My dear friend Betsy always says that ‘you attract what you exude.’ She’s totally right, if you spend your fucks wisely on things important to you, you’ll live a pretty happy life.
And, here’s a truth. If you give a fuck about someone, chances are they’ll give a fuck about you too. But obviously, don’t spend time on people who don’t care about you. That’s fucked up and will just make you sad.
For myself, I’ve spend a lot of my fucks on caring about what’s going on in the world around me. Personally, I don’t like to live in a bubble. I like to understand what is going on in my community. I like to help. I don’t like just standing by and waiting to see what happens. I hate feeling like I can’t do anything. I need to be involved and a large part of what I care about it making sure that everyone gets a fair chance.
And just for me personally, I think it’s pretty damn selfish to not care about others. Just because it might not personally affect you doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t care. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the front for the issue, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a place in it. You can help by listening, clearing a path for others to speak, or sharing what they say.
But, I always ask myself if I’m giving a fuck for the right reasons. If it’s to pat my own personal pride, I need to sit the fuck down. I’ve learned quite a bit from growing up in a military family and one of those things is that the most important shit happens without anyone knowing. So, maybe no one will ever realise how many fucks you’ve spent… but to be honest, that’s not why you’re spending them.
So, yeah. Personally, I’ve spent a lot of my fucks on politics and current affairs. After all, actions speak louder than words. I’ve written my fair share of words about topics I care about both to this void of a blog and to the relevant government offices. I don’t know if anything ever gets read, but they might one day… but if I stop then they won’t ever.
Tldr; spend your fucks on things you care about, be active in you community, care about your fellow humans. But do it for your own reasons not just to look cool.
Part III. Living Harmoniously
I often point dramatically toward a window and and ask people if they see it too, my last fuck fluttering away into the open, summer breeze.
Of course, that’s not entirely true as I still harbour many a fuck within my heart. But, those are the good ones. The ones I spend caring about people and things important to me. The reasons I get up and bumble about. They are the desire to learn and not be afraid to ask questions in class. The ability to meet new people and not feel as if they judge me straight away.
The fucks flying away are the bad ones: the ones filled with insecurity and fear and anxiety. I wave to them as they drift away. But, in a way, I am thankful for their existence. They taught me how to react to change, how to stand up for myself, and how to be proud of myself. By leaving, they make room for more time for things I actually should be caring about.
So I’m going to close with the quote that I started this post with, scroll back up if you’ve forgotten (shame on you!). It’s not about not caring about anything, just caring about the right things and for the right reasons. You can’t control what others think of you, but you can control what you think about yourself. So it’s not that I don’t care. I do care, I care a whole awful lot because I know that it’s the only way things are going to change for the better whether that’s being more self confident or working to better my community.