I have reached the age where I no longer give a sh*t.
I say this with some trepidation as if people might use it as a reason for avoidance or distrust.
“Don’t work with her, she clearly doesn’t give a sh*t.”
So let me clarify… I absolutely give a sh*t about you – my readers, my clients, my family, and friends.
I do indeed give a sh*t about the work I’ve done over the years and will continue to do.
In fact, I gave so much of a sh*t about my work that I spent a year and a half in the debilitating daze of burnout until I realized I was Finally Sick of My Own Bullsh*t and it was time to do what I most wanted to do.
No, the stuff I don’t give a sh*t about is the stuff I should have never given a sh*t about to begin with.
But I did. And you likely did or do too. Because that’s just what you do until you reach that certain age or stage where Still Giving a Sh*t should top your To Don’t list.
Here are five “Things I No Longer Give a Sh*t About (And You Shouldn’t Either).”
Really, the list should be longer. It includes:
1. My Audible/Visible Quirky Behavior –
a) Laughing – “Why are you making such weird, loud noises?”
That’s what my teen son said to me the other day. What was I doing? I was laughing. So hard it sounded more of a cackle. When I cackle, you can be sure that something is REALLY funny.
b) Dancing – I did this at a family party recently. It was the kind of party with a DJ… you know, the kind where you DANCE. Upon seeing my Elaine-like moves on the dance floor, my tween daughter informed me, “MOM, you’re embarrassing yourself.”
No, no honey, I’m not. I’m embarrassing you. I’m not embarrassed at all! (insert CACKLE here).
c) Clapping – I get excited at sporting events. When there is a particularly great play from my team, my clap has extra emphasis. I am a LOUD clapper. It is a sign of fan support.
Let’s have a clap off! Accompany it with some cackling and you’ve got a party.
d) Typing – I am also a LOUD typer. I no longer bring my laptop to the library where I’m sure to disturb other quiet-seekers unless I can secure a private room. A coffee shop will do, where my typing just contributes to the din.
But I will not apologize for my LOUD typing. These words have power and I put them down with emphasis. You should hear how deliberately loud I type THIS like RIGHT NOW. It’s very satisfying.
What are the quirky habits that make you intrinsically you? Celebrate them! (LOUD clapping here!)
2. What Anyone Thinks of My Taste in Music –
I used to roll up the windows (I know no one “rolls” up the windows anymore, but the phrase rolls on…) when I realized people stopped at the red light next to me could hear me singing along to Men at Work. Now if I catch another driver staring at me strangely, I roll down that window (as far as it will roll) and ask if they “speak-a my language” (and might want a vegemite sandwich). And then I laugh like a crazy lady and dance in my seat as I drive off. I hope they are as amused as I am by the music of my childhood.
What is it you enjoy that you’ve stopped doing because you’re worried about what other people might think?
3. My Need for Honesty –
I’m direct. Forthcoming. Honest. You’ll always get a straight answer from me. Unless you indicate upfront that you don’t want it. Need me to find all the typos in your manuscript? You’ve got it. Inform me before I begin that it already went to press and no changes can be made and you just want applause? It’s a terrific manuscript, well done!
With people I don’t know, my honesty tends towards bluntness. If you are a telemarketer and you robo-call my house when we are just sitting down for dinner on the one night that week we’ve been able to align all sports and work schedules so that we can sit down to dinner together, I will tell you quite honestly – and bluntly – what I think of your intrusion. And then, yeah, you should probably take my number off your list.
Where and when are you not being honest with yourself?
4. My Protection of my Own Time –
If you’re going to waste it, I’m going to move on. Sorry, but I’m now halfway to 100. I am older now than I was when you just read the sentence before this. Time is a precious commodity and if you waste mine, I can’t get it back.
This includes how I spend my time. Please do not bother me with little requests like “Hey, did you do the laundry last night? I have no clean clothes” when I am trying to drink my cup of coffee while it’s hot / finish the chapter of my book / get my blog ideas down stat. I won’t answer. Please do not inform me after I’ve driven 30 minutes to meet you for lunch that you can’t get out of work to meet me / you forgot / you changed your mind and you’d prefer to go to that vegan gluten-free joint 30 min. in the opposite direction.
What are you waiting to do? What are you waiting for? If you wait for the time to be “right,” you may find yourself some day out of time…
5. How I Look When I Am Doing Whatever it is I Need to Do –
I no longer quickly turn down the next aisle when I see that neighbor at the supermarket and I’m in my sweats with unwashed hair and no makeup. I don’t primp to go to the gym – why? I’ve even gone to retrieve the mail in my pajamas. (I draw the line at leaving the property line). I used to love getting dressed up for work but am thrilled Covid work-from-home means I no longer have to contort my feet into heels. When I do dress up now, it’s for me, not for you.
It’s like letting go of all of that surface-level perfectionism that hides the more interesting and revealing layer underneath.
What are you doing to conform to other people’s expectations or to win their approval?
What’s the benefit of a “Things I No Longer Give a Sh*t About” list?
It’s freeing. It frees you up from lesser things to make room for more of what matters.
And we should all give a sh*t about having that.
So here’s to LOUD claps, to hot coffee, friends who are on time, comfy clothes, the GoGo’s, and laughing so hard you cackle.
Typed WITH EMPHASIS.
Valerie Gordon is a lifelong storyteller, a former 10x Emmy-winning television producer, and the founder of career and communications strategy firm Commander-in-She. She helps clients use the principles of storytelling to find power in their own stories for greater success and satisfaction at work. The author of “Fire Your Narrator: A Storyteller’s Guide to Getting Out of Your Head and Into Your Life,” she blogs about work and life with plenty of cackle-worthy humor.