I can’t answer this question for anyone. Just being honest. I cannot tell anyone how to live their lives. That’s not what this blog is about. What I can do is share my experience and opinion what I learned about caring about things.
There are different levels to caring. We care about ourselves and things immediately affect us. We care about the lives of immediate family and friends and just the general public that we interact with. We care about social, environmental and global issues that both directly affect us or indirectly affect us. There is also different kinds of caring. We can care through sympathy or empathy or we can care meaning we are affected enough by something to have it affect us. Caring creates a response in us. And what I’ve learned is that we can either care too little or too much and we require finding a balance for a healthy life.
I am a millennial.
I am sure everyone has seen or heard at least one of these stereotypes associated with millennials. I grew up in Jamaica and probably knew woke or outrage culture long before it was a thing. The internet was just immerging as a popular thing when I was in grade school and high school and I am a child of the internet. But even before caring about things like climate change or politics, I was caught up in caring about the social issues in my immediate environment. It bothered me that people lived their lives expecting hand-outs. I cared that I was treated differently for being lighter skinned. I cared that I was told I was going to hell because I simply was not Christian and I questioned EVERYTHING I was told. I cared about my grades. I cared about what I was doing with my life and how I could make a lasting impact on the world. With internet exposure all of that caring went on steroids and I cared about climate change, health care, LGBTQ+ rights and the list just keeps going.
I would go on long rants about these things and my parents would say things like “it’s not affecting you” and “why do you care”. My dad told me that growing up with less hardships provided me with the luxury and privilege of having the time to care about all these abstract things. And he’s right. But that’s the world we live in. To counteract the fact that I felt like a social outlier and not having anyone understand me I developed the habit of saying things like “whatever” and “I don’t know” and “I don’t care”. I needed to create a barrier around myself because I didn’t want to be vulnerable. Feelings and emotions were taught to me as a vulnerable thing, something weak and undesirable. I didn’t want to be hurt or vulnerable or weak. So I had a weird complex of caring too much and caring not at all and for a long time I thought I was some kind of a sociopath because I could turn off my feelings like a light switch. I could make myself not care about anything. And I mean anything.
So how much should you give a f*ck in life?
The truth is that that depends on how you process your caring. Caring about things breeds good traits in a person; it makes them a good person to be around and makes them a productive member of society. If you care about things, by extension, you put effort into the things you care about; from your relationships with those around you, to yourself, to how you live your life. But if you care so much that it cripples your ability to thrive, it’s just as destructive. How you care about things and how you prioritize you level of caring is important.
Caring about another person is a good example. You can are about a person more than yourself in certain instances, like sacrifices made for a young child, but how you care about that child affects how that child is raised. If your method of caring is giving in constantly with no discipline then that will probably result in the child not being a good person in life. If you have a friend who is having a bad time with depression and is just constantly complaining. As a caring person you can try to help and uplift them, listen to their problems etc. but there comes a time where maybe that person is dragging you down and you may have to choose to walk away.
Maybe you care about a cause and want to have a charity and give money, time, resources etc. to it but would you give at the expense of being able to provide for your family? Or maybe you’re like me where you get so consumed with all the negativity and you become crippled because you don’t know what you can do.
On a less abstract note, what about caring about a negative interaction with someone in line to get lunch. The person behind you says something racist. You can care but how you process that and what you choose to do with that makes a difference. If you dwell on that experience to the point where it ruins your day or clouds your opinion of all, let’s say, white males, then you probably are giving too many f*cks to that one individual experience.
What I’ve learned is you need to find a healthy way to care. Figure out what is worth your caring. It’s important to treat each situation slightly different and really figure out if you can afford to invest your caring and how can you care in a healthy, productive way.
I don’t want it to sound like I’m being clinical about human relationships but the truth is a lot of the time we throw away a lot of ourselves into caring for someone in a way that isn’t constructive or helpful to either party. Sometimes you can care about the wellbeing of a person but it’s best to do it from a distance and to let the person out of your regular life. Sometimes it’s best to cut them out completely. You cannot save another person who does not want to be helped or just is not in the right place in life to accept help.
The same goes for random people. People who say ignorant, hurtful things just to ruin your day. I grew up a gamer on the internet as a FEMALE. I’ve been told I’m trash just for being a girl. Or I’ve been threatened with rape, abuse, death and had my family damned just for being a girl. And it’s something that has gotten more prevalent in the last few years. What I’ve learned is I can’t internalize that because those people are dealing with their own stuff and at the end of the day, what they said shouldn’t ruin your day or your outlook on men. Those people should not have that kind of power over you because you’ve given them too much f*cks.
I have something else to say about my theory of why we’re seeing a resurgence in sexism, racism etc. especially online but that is for another article. For now I only ask that the take away is to be more mindful of your caring. Somethings in life deserve all the care in the world. Other things are a waste and will drain your resources and dampen your outlook.