I’m 21 as of 3 weeks ago.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’ve spent a huge chunk of my life (especially during my late teens) worrying about what others thought of me.
Also about the many problems this has caused in my life.
I’m sure others can relate, it seems to be a common phenomenon at this age. So common, that there is a pretty popular book about this exact thing, although it is still on my to-read list.
Anyways, here are a few ways that I’ve personally learned to care less - a list of ways you can become a bit more indifferent to the everyday “BS”. Mileage may vary of course.
1. You’re not special
It sounds bad, but deflating your ego is actually quite liberating.
To think that others are always critiquing you is to assume that you are important enough to be critiqued.
So a good way to stop worrying about others is to realize that people largely don’t worry about you either!
You ain’t got haters! You ain’t Waka Flocka, baby!
This has really helped me begin blogging, because I was worried that people would judge me for what I wrote. But I realized that this is a delusion! I don’t have a following, no one really cares about my thoughts, so what’s stopping me from just putting them out there?
Of course this technique fails if you really are special. Although then you probably wouldn’t be reading my blog in that case. I’d be pretty surprised if Flocka Flame was reading this. But to combat this, it might help to zoom out your field of vision. You might be truly special in our society, but across centuries, most will be forgotten, and at best become another line in a history book. Even if people care right now, they probably won’t x years from now.
Ryan Holiday’s got a great piece on ego which feels relevant.
2. Care more about other things
So this entire post is actually somewhat misleading.
If we give this a second thought, to not worry about anything seems bad also. Being hyper aware of our peers and their opinions of us is certainly bad, but extreme apathy also has its clear problems. So the real goal should be to worry about the right things. As for my misleading blog post title, it’s just that “how to not give a fck” sounds a bit sexier than “how to give a fck about the right things”.
The point is, it’s impossible to worry about everything. You don’t have the mental capacity to agonize over every decision or thought that crosses your mind.
If you’re busy trying to get back to your home on Mars, you don’t have time to worry about even owning a house here on Earth.
If you run a company that serves billions of users, you don’t have time to worry about something as petty as picking out your outfit.
After working at Facebook this summer, I vaguely remembering the term “ruthless prioritization” being thrown around a few times. Maybe it can be attributed mostly to Sheryl’s philosophy, but it seems like a far more polished and office-appropriate way of talking about “how to give a f*ck about the right things”. So in this frame, “the root of all evil” a.k.a. premature optimization, is just worrying about the wrong things.
There is this cheesy analogy about how your life is like a jar. You fill up with different sized rocks. If you fill it up with sand first, you won’t have space for the larger pebbles. But if you fill it up with the larger pebbles first, you can always fill in the gaps with the sand. Rocks first, pebbles next, sand last.
3. You’re going to die
The title of this blog is “memento mori”, a Latin phrase that roughly translates to “remember death”. My corny ass also got it engraved in my Airpods, but thats besides the point.
Remembering your mortality keeps you from sweating the small stuff.
Who cares if Suzy is spreading rumors about you if you might not make it to next week?
Steve Jobs spoke about death during his 2005 Stanford commencement address:
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
I’m no SJ fanboy, but I found this pretty inspirational. I even taped a paper to my wall that said “You’re going to die” for the majority of my last college semester (I swear I’m not suicidal, not all the time at least). It probably didn’t do much, but I hope that it made me do things that I otherwise wouldn’t have.
Paul Graham has his own twist to this, ”Life is short”. Sounds a bit more polished and elegant I guess.
After writing this, I’m thinking that it might not be best for me to use the f word so much. Especially for future employers or business partners… Eh, who gives a f*ck…
EDIT: 9/14/20 Orange Book on Twitter posted something that feels pretty relevant: