One of my many blog-post-emails today started with: On Not Caring What Others Think.
Oceans of ink and oceans of bits have been poured over that topic. People never seem to tire of it, though to guess from the profusion of articles they don’t get any better at it. From time to time I read them, these articles, I suppose just in case they include something I haven’t already encountered. That hasn’t happened yet; they’re pretty consistent.
The instructions seem to center around “just quit it!” And “Try not-caring once. Watch how the world rolls along exactly as if you had…yet you’re less burdened.”
I think the project is easier if the person trying to quit is already familiar with Others looking at her oddly. My dominant young-person experience was that Others did not like/approve of/understand what I did and said. Caring what they thought was, on the whole, painful and unproductive…I lacked the whatever-it-is to get myself in line with what they would approve/like/understand, so I lived, felt rejected, and woke the next day to do it all again.
The chief pre-Not Caring coping mechanism I managed was to be really, really quiet. Which I was not always successful at, either. But after Rocco called me out on that during one of our floor group therapy sessions, I gave that one up too. So I spoke my mind, and trusted that the fallout would be survivable. Come to think on it, perhaps I arrived at not-caring because at that point my definition of “survivable” had profoundly shifted. Social disapproval loses its sting after experiencing the full routine of ER care for poisonings. The freedom of dancing with abandon in the school gym feels glorious, and it turns out no one was paying enough attention to you to notice and stare.
I may have always had a watcher’s bias toward the world. But not caring what others think has really set me apart in all my adult playground dealings. Inhabiting as many women-primary volunteer spaces as I do, the social atmosphere is full of this preoccupation. Focused on self, on others, on kids…the speculation goes on and on and on. I have even less interest than I otherwise might because it is all speculative. Not only are people handing over the control of their lives to (frequently unnamed, vague) Others, but they’re mapping out plans of attack and action based on decisions about Others that have never been checked in fact.
No one understands that I don’t want to play, and won’t be pulled into playing. And no one asks what game I would rather play instead.
I suppose the odd-woman-out feeling my childhood was solid preparation for the adulthood I now live out. I think it’s a pity it’s not the main stream, but whether it is or not this is where you’ll find me wading. Come in! The water’s warm, and the stones in the streambed are beautiful.
PS: Checked the daily-posting-box WITH original content! May be late for my evening activity, though. Remind self: schedule readjustments always take longer than we want. Still, class is interesting!