I recently came across this article by Ann Friedman, ‘The Power of 29: An Ode to Being Almost 30’.
In this piece she writes, “It was around age 29 that the number of fucks I gave about other people’s opinions dipped to critically low levels. Which freed up all kinds of mental and emotional space for the stuff I was really passionate about.”
And there it was. My New Year’s Resolution for 2015.
In the year I will turn 30, I aspire to give fewer and fewer f***s about other people’s opinions. I have already noticed a change in my giving of f***s about what others think of me, and I actually love this growing part of me and I am actively encouraging it to KEEP GROWING.
In 2014, my New Year’s resolution was to start my blog, and to write once each week. It is the first resolution I have ever really made, and I actually stuck with it, which has to be some sort of resolution record, right?? When I started it, I was scared. If you can picture me biting my nails, hunched over a computer screen, or pacing back and forth frantically, that was what was going on inside of my brain every time I pushed “publish”.
If you read the advice of authors and gurus and other “wise” folk around the world, they will tell you NOT TO CARE ABOUT EXTERNAL VALIDATION. How many articles for bloggers have I read begging us to STOP CARING ABOUT THE ‘LIKES’ ALREADY? (answer: close to a million. Or maybe like five. Regardless, point has been made). As in, don’t care about how many likes a blog post gets, how many likes your blog page has, etc, etc, etc. Because they don’t matter. Don’t garner your worth based on what people are willing to click a little thumbs up icon for.
As a recovering perfectionist who has lived nearly 30 years of life basing her worth on what others think or evaluate me as (case in point: grades, performance reviews, test scores, money, Facebook ‘likes’, basically anything I can measure to prove that I am “doing ok”), you can imagine how well that worked for me.
So I said I didn’t care and then checked my phone every 30 seconds after a post to see if anyone liked it.
And sometimes they really, really did, and sometimes they really, really didn’t.
And I gave lots of f****s.
Essentially, I am the least cool person you know. Think of that person who gives ZERO F***S about what anyone thinks. I was the opposite. I was the person who gave INFINITY F***S about what people thought. So uncool, right?
I would monitor my Facebook page ‘unlikes’ religiously – having a mini-breakdown anytime someone “un-liked” my page and trying to figure out if I knew the person who ‘unliked’ me. I tried to pinpoint what I did wrong. Was I too feminist-y? Not feminist-y enough? Too many F bombs? Too lovey-dovey? My energy went 100% to these negative events, worrying about what I did wrong.
A sort of fatal flaw of mine (and I am assuming many other women), if the tendency to focus on the negative. When I look in the mirror, I zero in on my flaws. I don’t often stop to appreciate the parts of me I like. A negative comment on my blog, about my appearance, about my work echoes in my mind for days on end, if not longer.
In patrolling my “likes” obsessively, I was not unlike a teenage girl in an emotionally unhealthy relationship. But why doesn’t he like me?? What is wrong with me?? How can I win him back??
When I would write, I would write carefully, trying to have a rebuttal for every argument that could potentially come up. Trying to smooth over potentially ruffled feathers. Trying to say, maybe you don’t agree with what I am saying, but PLEASE STILL LIKE ME.
But I had a sort of revelation recently. All my years of snarkiness came back to haunt me.
I am snarky. I have some super snarky friends, male and female. I have a lot of friends who are very, shall we say, ‘judge-y’ about other people’s social media habits. Because, aren’t we all?? How many articles have you read about “How not to be annoying on Facebook” or about the “Ten worst friends on Facebook.” And I was right along with them, critical all the time. Critical of the over-indulgent Facebook rants, the mushy, over-the-top declarations of love, the endless pictures of babies from new moms, and the ever-dreaded selfie. I judged away, right along with my friends. It felt pretty good. WE were better than THEM because we kept our thoughts and feelings private. We never gushed about love or our children and we NEVER felt the need to EVER take a narcissistic selfie.
And then I became all those things.
Because deep down, I longed to air my over-indulgent Facebook rants in blog form. I can’t pretend that I’m not freaking crazy about my husband and sometimes I really do want to shout it from the rooftop. I love taking pictures of my daughter and I want everyone else to like seeing them. And it is so rare that I feel attractive anymore that if I do, damnit, its worth a f***ing selfie to commemorate.
So I did it. I blogged about all my deep dark secrets. I blogged about things I hate. I wrote multiple long, mushy blogs about how obsessed I am with my husband. And then I joined Instagram and took my first selfie since college.
I’m on a roll, people.
And some people unfriended me, some people “un-liked” me, and I gave fewer and fewer f***s. Because I was doing what I wanted to do. Not holding back in fear that my friends were making fun of me behind my back. Not holding back so I would still seem “cool” and “un-involved.” I’m f***ing involved, ok?
And DAMN IT FEELS GOOD. The fewer f***s I give, the lighter I become. The less f***s I give about what other people think, the happier I become. The less I listen to fear, the less I listen to shame, the more space is freed up to do what makes me come alive. I am learning what truly makes me happy. I am learning the intrinsic rewards of doing things that I love without relying solely on the approval of others.
The f***s I give about if other people approve of what I feel like doing are dipping to critically low levels, just like they did for Ann Friedman in her last year of her twenties.
I’m not interested in writing carefully anymore, in trying to be likeable to all of the potential people who will read my work. I’m not interested in trying to be cool. I want to write messily, boldly, even more honestly than I have thus far. I want to focus on YOU GUYS, the readers who are here NOW. Not the ones who leave.
It’s going to be quite the ride, 2015. I can already feel it.
And damnit, I will take a selfie if I want to.