By: Sarah Normandin – Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know.
I’ve written about trying not to care before, and our propensity to want to escape our feelings. I’ve suggested that we might be better off feeling our emotions than trying to escape them. And yet, there are days when I care too much – due to my conditioning, due to my upbringing, due to my temperament and whatever else is going on inside my mind. So, in a way, I would never take a risk if I listened to what my mind had to say about it. I would stay safe and quiet and miserably boring. I would probably never push myself to go for what I want, probably settling for something much less than what I would really like to do with my life.
I hit my first round of grad school in my early 20’s. Much younger than most of the other students, I often felt desperately out of place – like totally lost. There was so much material and so much writing – it was utterly overwhelming. I remember sitting in our monthly group seminar, where all the students shared about how their work was going and declaring loudly during my turn that “It’s going great!” And I remember that the other students, most of them actual adults, thought it was adorable – my declaration – like wait until she figures out how great it isn’t. And honestly, it wasn’t great, but the saying that it was, usually made me feel a little bit better.
There have been times like that, several in my life, where I’ve just had to white-knuckle it – because if I thought too much about what I was doing, I would have run away screaming. In fact, I’d probably be stuck several jobs back, unhappily, waiting to finally figure out that I might survive doing something new.
Much of this I can chalk up to perfectionism, but a lot also has to do with not knowing where I stand, wondering who I might piss off at any moment. Who might just not like me, as me. Because I do have opinions – strong ones – that you only might find out about if you know me really well or if I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine. Because I hide them, much of the time to avoid conflict or discomfort or whatever I else I think might happen if I spoke up.
We can try to explore or excavate that – I’ve worked on it for years, and yet at some point the mental ruminations really don’t help. I kind of just have to do something, anything – and that’s where zero fucks comes in. It’s not, not caring about other people – it’s more like I really care about other people, I care what they think, if they like me, if I’ve upset them, if they think I’m good enough, and on and on and on. And yet I will shrivel up into nothing if I don’t allow myself to be some, at least, slightly more authentic version of me. So, I say to myself, you have to try not to care so much. I know I will still care – I can’t help myself, but I can try to find a place inside myself that knows I care, and yet I can step into my own most evolved version of myself – a version that can be somewhat ok when people don’t like what I’m offering.
This is much easier to write about than to practice – I fully admit that. I’ve lost whole days to being absorbed by whether or not I possibly offended someone. Yet, I am a very bland incarnation of myself when I care so much, so I will choose to push on and maybe I can drop a fuck or two every day until this whole thing becomes a little less painful, a little less excruciating, and maybe in the best way, a little less safe.
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Sarah is a therapist and coach who has been supporting women for over 12 years in creating lives that align with their own values. As a mother and a wife, she understands the complexity of modern life and how to manage stress while juggling many responsibilities. She believes in having fun, taking naps and saying no as often as possible. If you’re interested in exploring motherhood, imperfection and doing less to have more–or just want someone to tell you to take a break, you can find her at sarahnormandin.com.
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