CONTENT WARNING: A profuse use of the “F-word” is throughout this post. If that doesn’t jive, with you, please stop reading now. Much love to all. -Taylor
Even as a child, I gave a fuck. My parents still tell the story of how, before I even entered kindergarten, I was in their living room and saw the UNICEF commercial, the one showing the starving African children? I found the home phone and dialed the sponsorship number advertised on the screen, explaining very patiently that, while I did not have a credit card, I would happily send all of my piggy bank money to help the cause.
When my mother realized what I was doing, she got me off the phone and rocked me for the next few days in her lap while I bawled, as I could not understand how any child could be starving and how no one was doing any damn thing to help it.
Well, I didn’t say “damn.” But I’m pretty sure I was thinking it.
Although I do not remember it myself, my parents have always used that anecdote as a way to demonstrate my response to any problem I encounter. Any problem to myself or others becomes an alarming trial that must be dealt with immediately by any/all resources that I have.
The way I explain it is a little bit different.
Being prone to over dramatics has always been a spawn of my anxiety. As I grew up, it was a way to overcome. Aligned closely with the big drama, the massive anxiety, the whole hell of a lot of a person that I am, is a fierce passion. Every new thing that I see and like becomes a new obsession. And every new thing that I see and don’t like becomes a Problem that Must Be Fixed.
An additional trouble, then, came from being a part of a generation that prizes the underwhelm. In my early twenties, I felt like an outside party to an inside joke. My entire life had been spent caring. In college, though, something around me shifted. All around me I felt the attitude of my generation: “I don’t give a fuck.” And, it was really appealing.
It took a while for my conscience to come to terms with this. What about all the things that needed to be cared about? The starving kids in Africa, my tongue (as a child, I had an immense fear of swallowing my tongue for no explicable reason), my cats, my grades… all of it? And, it was hard to swallow the new mantra that, hey, maybe it just doesn’t matter.
But, after trying it on for a second… it did actually appear to feel really good.
Like a tattered band-aid placed over a broken arm, the anti-affirmation soon bubbled up inside me in response to anything that gave me distrewss.
Getting kicked out of a bar? I don’t give a fuck.
Love interest failed to send me a good morning text? I don’t give a fuck.
Missed too many days in a class required to graduate? I don’t give a fuck.
Instantly, that was my “out.” If I didn’t give a fuck, it was no longer my problem. The bar owners, the boyfriends, the professors: their problem now! Because how could you have a conflict when the second person in the equation wasn’t around? Or, hey, maybe I was but I was drinking mimosas watching the shitshow unfold. Wasn’t it fun? Just for a bit, to be only an outside spectator with no vested interest in whatever calamity was arising in my life.
It felt nice.
Until it didn’t.
Looking back now, I realize that the portion of my college years in which I was somewhat successfully exhibiting the millennial “I don’t give a fuck” attitude was really more so a big facade to myself than anything else.
The familiar feeling of caring would billow up from deep within and instead of giving it its moment, as I do now, a blanket of “it doesn’t matter” would simply stifle it. It would still be there, rest assured. But unresolved and ignored, with the strong black stamp of “fuck it” attempting to mask over the necessity I felt towards addressing it.
There are still remnants of that defense mechanism that still follow me to this day. Specifically related to relationships that I have with others. Caring so intensely for other people opens me up to a range of varying emotions when I feel slighted by them. Rather than feeling pain or discomfort, an “‘easy out” is often to turn my back to that person or cut the relationship completely. A former roommate and a close, close friend and I did not speak for over a year for that very reason. I am absolutely not proud of it; however, I am offering awareness for how oscillating between caring and not caring… giving all the fucks and none at all still burdens me to this day.
In a conversation I had with that same friend the other night, I reflected on how sometimes the world can screw us up when we’re young. How there are times when we have no control and can be a victim to society, our friends, our parents’ influences. But, our responsibility at some point in time, is to unlearn those behaviors.
It felt a little exhausting then, because, really, wasn’t that the worst? Growing up, learning how to act, speak, think, feel. Then, growing even more up and unlearning it all in order to reach… what? A higher state?
Well, maybe it’s tiring at times.
It’s also necessary. Walking you through my personal journey, you’ll see I was born caring. Then I learned otherwise. I learned the safety of not caring. The security blanket of a guarded heart and sharp tongue. A sharp tongue that sliced everything I took in so thin that I never really had to digest it.
Now, I’m unlearning. Friends, the armor that I learned how to suit up in has become so heavy after years of wearing it. The other day I received a massage and the number I had done on my neck from years of metaphorical metal surrounding my body could only be responded by a “Bless your heart” from the masseuse as she attempted to coax knots out of my cervical spine.
I can tell you so many reasons why I chose to not give a fuck the last decade of my life.
But, instead, let me tell you the number one reason why I choose to give all the fucks now: it is who I was born to be.
Sharing love has been the main purpose and mission that my life has taken over the last year. Without care, without nurture, without giving a fuck… there can be no love. And, trust me, I am so very aware of how scary that can be. Giving those fucks about yourself and others opens up the possibility that they can disappoint you… that, even more fearfully, you can disappoint yourself. It is easy to hold your breath and hope that the disappointment doesn’t come. Shut down your heart and build a brick wall around it: bracing for the hit that guilt and disappointment will bring.
And, gently, I challenge: so what if disappointment arrives at your doorstep?
So what, if your people, your tribe, disappoint you sometimes?
So what, if you disappoint yourself at some moment?
What if, what if you could love them/love yourself anyway? Keep on giving a fuck… anyway?
Friends, we are not some fragile glass ornaments that shatter when our hearts drop. We are resilient, strong, caring people placed on this earth to care for it and care for us and care for ourselves. My message for you, then, is simple: how can you give a fuck today? In the face of the world that tells you it is easier not to? What can you do to care even more deeply for yourself in others? How can you go forth in a spirit of love, tossing it like wildflowers at everyone you see?