i care too much about myself

originally written in may, 2015

Today I came to work in a sweater and black track pants in 26 °C weather because I washed my work clothes last night and they did not dry in time for my morning commute (I don’t have a dryer). The miracle is that this is borderline acceptable at my work place and no one ever really gives me a hard time on what I wear, so I was not worried (even though many of my coworkers show up to work in formal suits everyday). However, wearing this outfit did make me feel really self conscious because, first of all, it is not weather appropriate. It’s really warm. I am sweating. Secondly, this is not, in any way, a flattering outfit. As I walked out of work during my lunch break I felt really awkward, walking, fully covered, among teenagers in shorts and t-shirts. I walked as fast as I could to where there was food and ate. On some days, eating can be a somewhat transformative and cathartic activity. Today was such a day and as I was walking back to the office I thought to myself,

“Wow who cares if I’m wearing this terrible outfit, it’s like, totally fine. Like, it’s ok. I’m not trying to impress anyone. I’m just at work. I don’t care.”

But then I realized, I do care! I care a lot but I was trying to convince myself to not care. The truth hiding in these thoughts is that the me that I would like to be is someone who does not care about what other people think about me but my desire to be someone like this means that I, in fact, do care, but I don’t want to. I don’t want to because it’s really stressful to care.

But to care is perfectly normal. I want to say that everyone cares what other people think of them on some level. There are just so many reasons to care. Modern society forces people to judge others based on whatever standards that are appropriate within the construct of whatever function they wish to perform. We are all aware of this and this forces us to care!

This is so stressful! To lessen this stress I tell myself that I don’t care, over and over again, putting out the potential fires my self-consciousness is threatening to spark. I do this because I remember that on days when I feel particularly unattractive (read: hideous) or incompetent (read: useless) it is a bit (read: really really really) hard to function.

Are there people in the world who really don’t care? Maybe? But I want to say no??? Someone told me the other day that Lars Von Trier once said in an interview that he believed no one in the world is happy. I do believe there are people in the world who are happy because I know people who I believe are happy. But I don’t believe there are people in the world who don’t care what other people think about them.

But you probably know someone who says things like: “oh, I don’t care what other people think about me,” “idgaf.”

There’s also that quote that’s like →

Those who matter don’t mind, and those who matter don’t mind.

These words can be genuine and I do concur that there are opinions from other people on some aspects of my being that I really couldn't care less about. But I do have some soft, tender, sensitive spots in my psyche, easily penetrable by negative opinions from others. And I think this is the same for everyone.

Sometimes, when I hear people say that they don’t care it feels like they do care. Are they aware of the fact that they are giving off this impression? Logically speaking, they wouldn't care anyway, so this is not important. I feel like, on top of striving to not care about other people’s opinions, I also strive to be acutely self-aware. Sometimes I say something or write something on the internet and then I reflect on whatever it is that I have expressed and what kind of impression it would give and I may not edit myself, depending on how much I still stand by my statement now that I have reflected on it, but I just like being aware. I said this, and some people are probably going to think this or that and I am either ok or not ok with this or that. This is probably some kind of defense mechanism. For what? In case I get into an argument or have to defend myself? Those things rarely happen. And in the end it just shows how much I do care after all. I have a system of caring. I have a habit of awareness cultivated with care, or more like, by how much I care.

After writing that last sentence I realized something else. Although I do care what other people think of me (sometimes) I rarely let that affect how I see myself. Maybe that’s what people mean when they say that they don’t care. Or maybe they really don’t care. But I don’t think so. I feel like you have to care to have successful social interactions, navigating the complexities of society on a human level. That’s pretty basic right? I am caring to help myself. In the end what I care about is just me. I spend a ridiculous amount of time thinking about myself, to become self-aware. Is this bad? I care so much about myself I wrote this whole thing. Was this a waste of time? Why did I write this anyway? Should I even publish this? ???

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