Last week, I was thinking about how much my words and actions are influenced by what I think that other people will think of me for saying/doing them.
This week, I realized that all that is bullshit.
Here are 5 reasons why we should all stop wasting our lives trying to win the approval of other people and just start doing whatever the fuck we want:
1. If you’re not you, then who the fuck are you?
Come on, seriously: you know who you are. You know where you want to be, what you want to do, and what you want to say. Sometimes, though, the fear of being judged by others can make you lose sight of all that; maybe you’ve become that shy guy/gal who dresses conservatively and doesn’t say much, lest you embarrass yourself with a conversation-ending remark. But why should you feel embarrassed if you’re just being yourself? I think it’s more embarrassing to not speak your mind than it is to say something that isn’t well-received. At least you fucking said it, you know?
It’s better to cross the line than to just stand there, staring at it. Have confidence in everything you do — “fake it til you make it”, if you must — and that will be more than enough to carry you through every day with an indestructible smile and swagger.
2. Everyone’s got their own shit to deal with.
There was a memorable phase of my life where I was just afraid to do anything, because I was afraid that people would think I was weird, or “awkward”. When it got really bad — like, suicide-level bad — I talked to my friend about it. He replied with one of the best tough-love pieces of advice I’ve ever heard:
Do you seriously think people give a fuck about every single thing you do? I mean, how fucking self-centered must you be to have that mindset? For being so shy and anxious, you sure seem to have an ego complex; you act like everyone gives a flying fuck about your every word and step.
He couldn’t have put a better perspective on it. People have their own lives. They have problems, just like you. It really is self-centered to think that people are always watching you, setting aside their own stresses so they can focus on yours. Fuck that.
3. Some people are just natural douchebags.
You know the type — everything is negative with them, and you can’t ever persuade them to think otherwise. They think every human being is a piece of shit, because they just focus on flaws rather than the positives. “That girl is such an attention whore.” “That dude talks so arrogantly.” “My friend is just a useless stoner.” Well, bullshit to all of that. That girl might have an amazing sense of humor. That guy might have some seriously awesome hobbies you might want to get into. That stoner friend might be a kick-ass musician. You just never know. If some negative fuck wants to write you off over a few minor flaws, then fuck them. Eliminate all the negativity in your life and you’ll be much better off for it.
4. Someday, you’re going to fucking die.
That’s pretty simple. One day, you’re going to fucking die. And if you don’t do all the shit that you want to do and say all the shit you want to say, you’re going to regret it. There’s no two ways about it. Just fucking do shit, and if it doesn’t pan out well, then that’s fine — you’ll learn from it.
5. The only real way to learn is to fuck up.
This is a lesson that has stuck with me for years. When I become a parent someday, I’m going to raise my kids by that philosophy. During my childhood, my parents told me countless times not to be wasteful with money, not to do drugs, not to stay out late, and to stay on track with my studies.
And what did I end up doing? Racking up almost five figures of credit card debt, going on drug binges, not coming home for days at a time, and skipping almost every class for a semester in college. Their words were useless.
And where am I at now? I have zero credit card debt, I have my drug use in check, I go home when I need to chill out, and I love learning about everything.
People need to fuck up to learn; it’s a fact. Someone can tell me a thousand times not to do something, but I will do it anyway; not out of spite, but out of curiosity or just not giving a fuck. And when I do it and it turns out horribly, then I learn. And that’s what matters. If you just do and say whatever you think is right, then you’re either going to 1) have a positive result and benefit from it, or 2) fuck up, and learn to do things differently. It’s a win-win.
I stopped giving a damn about what other people ‘expected’ and ‘thought’ of me a few weeks ago, and my life has been stellar ever since. I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way, and done things that I am not too proud of, but overall I’m still happy with every single thing I’ve done. There was no grand epiphany that made this happen; it just slowly dawned on me that if I’m not living my life, then I’m letting everyone else live it for me. And that is the biggest fuck-up a person can do to themselves.
Just start loving yourself. Easier said than done, to be sure, but it’s a worthwhile struggle.
What’s stopping you from living your life as you please? Seriously.
UPDATE (2/16/2014): I’m amazed at how much traffic this post has continued to get after two and a half years! If you’d like any additional advice on this subject tailored to your own personal situation (or just an ear willing to listen), feel free to contact me using the form below. I’ll do my best to get back to you as soon as possible! (All correspondence will be kept completely confidential.)